Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

All Barack Obama should worry about is picking the best vice president

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Originally published on on Thu, 05/22/2008 – 10:20am

For the first time in our nation’s history, a woman is being seriously considered as a vice presidential selection. Geraldine Ferraro, the only woman so far to be on a major party national ticket, wasn’t a subject of speculation by the pundits, amateur and professional, in 1984.

What if a woman runs for vice president of the United States in 2008?

And it’s not just a question for Barack Obama to decide. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), Condoleezza Rice, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina have been mentioned as possible selections for John McCain.

In the original dynamic, the thought of Obama selecting a woman was considered to be bold and dynamic, showing a new face of American leadership.

Given the recent charges of sexism by Hillary Clinton supporters, and if Obama does select a woman who is not Hillary Clinton, how would a selection of a woman who is not Hillary Clinton be seen by Clinton supporters?

Hillary Clinton is the first woman to be a serious contender for a major party’s presidential nod. Yet if Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, or Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) gets picked as the running mate for Obama, that person could be the first woman to serve as vice president and possibly, the first woman president.

One name I would love to put on this list is Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), who is highly qualified but unfortunately is ineligible since she was born in Canada.

So the delicate question that Clinton supporters may have to consider is whether having a woman in the number 2 slot is a good thing, even if it isn’t Hillary Clinton.

Clinton supporters have a legitimate beef when it comes to sexism and Obama supporters have a legitimate beef when it comes to racism. And the Republicans and the MSM will subject the Democratic Party nominee to those attacks in the fall. Quite frankly, the “first” to break the mold is going to deal with these issues. And Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have tough enough skins to be able to cope with the backlash.

The good news in 2008 is that in the Democratic Party primary season, the Clinton/Obama battle has been decided by the quality of the candidates and their campaigns, and not because of gender or race. And that is what equality should be about.

But Obama supporters should understand that there are Clinton supporters who think Clinton should be the first woman president, not Napolitano, Sebelius, McCaskill, Kennedy Schlossberg, or Boxer. They look at her 35 years of public service and consider her to be the best qualified candidate, regardless of gender. And they may be less than thrilled with a woman that they don’t know, especially if she is an Obama supporter. Whether or not there will be fallout from this in November is a question that needs serious consideration.

Hillary Clinton has spoken in her speeches about the young daughters being brought by their parents, and the underlying symbolism that if you are female, you really do have a shot of being president of the United States. Barack Obama, who has two young daughters, has brought similar language into his speeches lately.

We are ready to have a woman be in top leadership in this country. In 2008, there are dozens and dozens of well-qualified women in both parties who could lead this country. But we also don’t want to be put in a situation where a woman is placed onto the ticket to satisfy a “quota.” Obama is starting the process of picking a running mate. If Obama picks Napolitano, Sebelius, McCaskill, Kennedy Schlossberg, Boxer, or yes, even Hillary Clinton, it should be because Obama thinks that person will be the best vice president.


Written by democracysoup

May 22, 2008 at 10:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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