By Alan Caruba
If you think about it, the U.S. is decades behind other nations that have been led by women. The United Kingdom’s former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, comes rapidly to mind, along with her extraordinary partnership with Ronald Reagan. Then there’s Indira Gandhi who led India for while and, of course, Israel’s Golda Meir.
Today, Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany. In truth, the list of nations in which women who have been or are currently in leadership positions is an amazingly long one. It includes Canada, Argentina, the Philippines, Pakistan, Portugal, Iceland, Norway, the Central African Republic, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Poland to name just a few.
So the notion that Gov. Sarah Palin is “one heartbeat away from the presidency” does not bother me one bit. Meanwhile, in Arizona, Janet Napolitano is Governor. M. Jodi Rell runs Connecticut, Linda Lingle runs Hawaii, Kathleen Sebelius is in charge in Kansas, Jennifer M. Granholm directs Michigan’s affairs, and Christine Gregoire is Governor of Washington.
I am pretty sure the Democrat Party, which always makes a big show of opening doors for women and various minorities, is in a panic over the Republican candidate with the guts to put a woman at the top of the ticket with him.
Men of my generation aren’t particularly “threatened” by women in leadership positions. Most of us recall that Eleanor Roosevelt was as popular and influential as FDR. In those days, mothers were powerful figures, too. Roosevelt’s mother held the family purse strings and actually lived in the White House with him. Ironically, Harry Truman’s wife, Bess, hated being First Lady and retreated to their home in Independence, Missouri for most of his tenure in office.
The mother of General McArthur of World War II and Korean War fame actually moved to a residence near West Point while he attended in order to keep an eye on him. I have always found it a curiosity of history that so many men who emerged as strong leaders also had equally strong mothers in the background.
None of this is to deny that there was and probably still is “a glass ceiling” for woman in America. I am not convinced that those who chose to make career and marriage work were or are that happy with the arrangement. I attribute it to the natural nurturing gene that women have and I still regard the role of mother as one of the most important in the world.
It is inevitable that the United States will have a woman President. One is reminded of the heroic and long struggle to achieve suffrage for women; the simple right to vote. That said, America is still a very young nation and subject to such errors and failures. What counts for me is the way we ultimately embrace change.
It strikes me that the choice of Gov. Palin is nothing short of brilliant. Thank you, John McCain. Thank you, America.