Maybe we’ll have a female president after all
In 2013, the first musings began about who might become the next president. At that time, U.S. News & World Report wrote a column entitled “For 2016, remember the women” It foretold the future with respect to the possibility of a female president, but was entirely wrong about who that person might be.
First off, the conventional wisdom was that the Democratic nomination was Hillary Clinton’s for the asking. Plus, the piece completely missed the mark when it speculated about eight women the magazine thought had the bona fides to take on the job.
On the Democratic side (other than Clinton), U.S. News & World Report’s short list included Secretary of Health and Human ServicesKathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand. Well, Sebelius went down in flames over the botched implementation of Obamacare and Solis also resigned under a cloud of controversy. Warren is still on the sidelines and Gillibrand doesn’t seem to be interested.
For the Republicans, the article suggested U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and three governors, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Nikki Haley from South Carolina and Susana Martinez of New Mexico. Aside from the forgone conclusion that Clinton would be the first woman president, Republicans were thought to have something of an edge among potential female candidates because governors were considered to be outsiders and that was an important qualification for voters who had soured on what the executive and congressional branches of government had or had not accomplished over the past several years. As it turns out, the idea of an “outsider” didn’t mean outside theCapital Beltway; it meant someone who was outside politics altogether.
In 2013, the thought of Donald Trump running for president was relegated to nothing more than a side show, something that would be orchestrated by Trump to gin up self-promotion he craves. Trump was the guy who clearly knows how to play the public relations game and loves the limelight. But beyond that, no one expected Trump to amount to much more than a few sound bites Democrats would use to try and denigrate the Republican Party as a whole. As for Carly Fiorina, even political junkies didn’t have her on their radar screens, and no one knew her name.
Even a few months ago, Fiorina remained an afterthought. In a July 26 speech, Clinton was attacking the Republicans about what she fictitiously characterizes as a war on women by saying, “Those guys on the other side, and by the way they are all guys last time I checked – Oh no. There is one woman. Sorry, I forgot.”
Well, at the Republican debate Wednesday night, the woman Clinton forgot about spoke up, and the idea that the former secretary of state had some sort of lock on the female vote got blown all to smithereens. Fiorina finally broke through with a debate performance that was nothing less than spectacular. Even Democrats had to concede that she proved herself to be presidential timber. In the post-debate punditry, MSNBC, a reliably left-leaning cable network, compared Fiorina to Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, and perhaps the most respected female political leader of all time. Such a comparison must have sent shivers through the Clinton campaign, dealing what will probably be the death blow to a candidate already fatally wounded by her self-inflicted email scandal.
There are many who have the qualifications to be president. But to actually reach that office, it must also be the right time for the right person, and with the way the winds are blowing this political season, it appears this could be Carly Fiorina’s time.
Reach Bob McWilliams by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.