The Right Politics

As much as former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said she doesn’t want to be a politician, her name continues to be thrown about in the days preceding the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s announcement of a vice presidential running mate.

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In spite of the constant pressure to get Rice on the ticket with Romney, it is something that would be unwise for Romney to do. First and foremost, Rice has repeatedly made it clear that she’s not a born-politician and is not interested in running for any elective office. If Romney were to choose her and somehow force her into the position, his ticket will be off and crawling on a negative note.

How easy it would be for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to continue reminding voters that – should the GOP ticket win – the second person in command would be someone who never really wanted the job. That reason in itself, one could speculate, is the reason Obama is keeping Joe Biden over the currently popular Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as his 2012 running mate.

Do any of us want a vice president who doesn’t really want the job? Logically, if Condi Rice should become president due to a presidential mishap or misstep, America will have someone in the Oval Office that never wanted to be in line for the job – let alone in the job. Then what?

Besides not wanting the job, Rice doesn’t match Romney on a couple of strong issues. An issue that surfaces to the top – or very near the top – of each presidential campaign’s list of debated topics in recent elections has been a woman’s right to choose. As one may recall, Rice is a firm believer in abortion rights. Romney, on the other end of the spectrum, is pro-life. If Romney were to select Rice as a running mate, Romney’s stance on such an important issue would look wavering and much less staunch than he has professed on the topic in the past.

Naturally, such critical terms as etch-a-sketch and flip-flop would quickly be coming from Obama, Biden, and the Democratic Party at-large.

Beyond the contradictory beliefs on major issues, there’s the problem of Romney selecting any woman – regardless of how popular the female appears to be in the pre-election timeframe.

Yes, I meant what I said – as unpopular as the thought may be at this stage of the 2012 election process, having a female on the ticket may still be something America is not ready for. While Americans like to think that they have finally progressed far enough to accept a female presidential or vice presidential candidate, let’s take a look at the treatment such goal-oriented females have received in the past.

Consider the late-Geraldine Ferraro who was Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale’s running mate in 1984. In spite of her clean and impressive past, she was nearly eaten alive on the campaign trail. Though Americans, the media, and U.S. politicians thought it was time for a female to run for the next-to-the-highest office in the land, Mondale’s vice presidential choice was disastrous for his ticket. The finances of Ferraro as well as her husband were dug up, reported upon extremely negatively, and Mondale lost in a landslide.

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In the last election, regardless of what one thinks of Sarah Palin, she was treated horrendously for being on John McCain’s ticket as his vice presidential choice. To disapprove of a candidate on the issues and on their lack of experience is one thing. The personal insults and degradation of Palin, however, was inexcusable. The slaughter of Palin was one of our nation’s saddest moments in disrespect for a public figure who scarcely had time to do anything wrong to deserve the slaughtering. Out of the gate, like Ferraro, there was a brief time of celebration that a female was finally getting her due on the national ticket when Palin was announced as a running mate. However, the disrespectful degradation of a female candidate soon kicked in much like had happened 20 years earlier to Ferraro.

Most notably of the female candidates being denounced was Hillary Clinton in 2008. What finer candidate could the Democratic Party have come up with? It truly looked like a major political party was going to do it right. They chose a candidate that was difficult to dislike. Republicans – near and far – were having a tough time deciding whether they’d jump ship to vote for this Democrat instead of the Republican John McCain. Beyond likable, Clinton was considered smart and well-respected. Her controversial views were strong but not overbearing. There was no way that Hillary Clinton couldn’t become her party’s nominee for president and very likely the winner of the White House.

Again, a female was basically put in her place – this time by Barack Obama as he whisked away with the nomination.

Yes, we all say that we’re ready for a female on the national ticket – and we are. But are we willing to elect a female on that ticket? Up to now, the answer has been no. As for 2012, that question is yet to be answered if Romney puts a female on the ticket.

I don’t believe Romney is in a position to try having a female on the national ticket. And I don’t think he’s willing to take the chance either. He’ll most certainly attempt to make himself look good by having females on his short list of VP possibilities, but I seriously doubt he’s going to take the risk of believing that America, its media, and its politicians are finally ready to treat female candidates with the respect they so richly deserve. America and its unfortunate prejudice against females have a way to go before that will happen as they proved four years ago – and things do not appear to have changed.

Hopefully, by 2016, both political parties and the nation will finally be ready.

About Scott Paulson

Scott Paulson writes political commentary for and teaches English at a community college in the Chicago area. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.


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