Saturday, August 30, 2008

Election vs. Selection

Something's been bothering me about the Palin selection, beyond out great policy disagreements or my dismay at her stepping on Obama's speech story.

Where could I find a bright, clean, articulate person to help me express this?
I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.
Pedigree... pedigree... When I think about Pedigree, I don't just think about the races of your parents, I think of how you got a seat at the table - your professional pedigree. That was part of my trouble with Hillary Clinton. She got to be a figure of national prominence not as her own person, but as a piece in the make-up of her husband. People might disapprove of her, but still vote for Bill, just as they might disapprove of his tax policy and still vote for him. Thus, if she were to become the first woman president there would always be an asterisk by her name. She would always be a Christina Fernandez, not a Margaret Thatcher.

Unlike Fernandez, who immediately succeeded her husband, Nestor, when he was termed out, Hillary actually started to make a place for herself as a separate force. To a significant extent, this campaign has done that, as has her time in the senate. And time in the senate will slowly convert that asterisk to a plus, then a dash, then a dot...*

Of course, just because a Gore, or a Bush, or a Clinton, or a Kennedy is thrust at as a figure of automatic prominence, it doesn't mean they automatically get a position of power. We can elect them. Or not. Our hands are tied in only two situations - who the president chooses to marry, and who the president selects as their running mate. It's one thing for Hillary Clinton to put 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, it's quite another thing for Sarah Palin to slipstream into the 'white males only' door behind John McCain.+

*: And, no, 68 is not too old to run for President, especially as women tend to live longer than men

+: Second thoughts - what if McCain selected someone like Colin Powell - a significant person in his own right, a real asset (at least before W. ruined him), etc. etc.? I still don't think it means much. It's not nothing, but it's small ball, like the first black governor of New York.

The vice president, like the first lady, has as much governing power as the president lends them. If you select a Ferraro / Quayle / Palin chew toy, then they won't have much impact on the governing philosophy.

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