Friday, December 08, 2006

A President's Race and Gender: But What Really Counts?

This weekend, the New York Times is asking a question that has been asked, in various forms, for decades: 'Is American ready for a president who is not a white man?'

Well, first I'd have to ask: What does the NYT mean by "ready"?

By "ready", does that mean that, say, a white woman or a black man could or would receive the most votes, both popular and electoral?

Or that, if a non-white male were elected, would the nation accept the winner as legitimate and, moreover, be or become accepting of and thus comfortable with such a winner?

Well, for starters, let's just remind ourselves that winning the most votes doesn't make the candidate or the office holder a winner. Mr. Gore got the most votes, and Mr. Bush became president. And very few people would say that Mr. Bush was ever much of a winner and that now he seems very much a loser.

Yet until recently, Mr. Bush had the approval of more than half of the nation. So, obviously at least half of America is "ready for" a monomaniacal, mealy-mouthed dunderhead, a silver-spoon fed C-student privateering pirate, primarily ignorant of and irritated by the so-called "power of the people" and by what peace and personal freedom really mean.

And heavens, this is not the first time America has been "ready" to be shortchanged by losers appearing to be winners, presidents who showed outright either executive incompetence or a flagrant disregard for the law or both. Read: Hoover. Read: Nixon. Read: Reagan.

In 2004, America was ready to re-elect a president who’d obviously violated the United States Constitution and already exhibited an offensive disdain for public service and the virtues of openly democratic government. Many presidential scholars and historians are saying that the current president is the worst in American history.

Not that we are handling this president very well, as it seems the expectations of many have been lowered to the level of accepting a rotten and spoiled frat boy as president. We could do worse, but why go there. I'd say all of the potential candidates for president this next round seem far more capable and palatable.

So why NOT be "ready" for a much smarter candidate, a much more capable administrator, a more dedicated leader? Neither gender nor race matter at all compared to what Martin Luther King, Jr. called 'the content of one's character'. What really counts? I'd say a candidate's intelligence and dynamism, a command of broad perspectives and legal options, the ability to communicate openly and honestly, and his or her passions for the planet all people, especially high stakes diplomacy and the inner AND outer workings of government.

Any of the potential candidates mentioned thus far would be a VAST improvement.

And at least several have already verged on the masterful and perhaps even the heroic.


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