Bob Franken


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It may seem a bit ludicrous that members of Congress will be the ones to decide whether to fund President Barack Obama’s new initiative to map the brain. These, after all, are the people whose thought process is so often severely limited. Think gun control or immigration as examples of issues that are critically important but completely entrapped in a single-minded focus on politics. The primal survival instinct in the 2014 election preoccupies everyone’s synapses, but 2014 is just the preliminary event. The next presidential race is well underway. And it’s high time we state the obvious: We should declare 2016 the Year of the Woman. Talk about a no-brainier.
It’s as apparent as can be. Hillary Clinton is already out there teasing us with her noncandidacy. Her speech before an event honoring female leaders around the world was breathlessly reported. So was her Web statement in which she supported same-sex marriage. She has a transition office — transition to what is a fair question. A Ready for Hillary super PAC already has been formed.
She is the most prominent figure in the latest “first ever” competition, as in the first-ever woman to become U.S. president. But she is definitely not the only one. While she is far and away the leading Democrat, there are other intriguing possibilities in the party and some that are probably not possibilities. There are those of us who think that Michelle Obama is eminently qualified, although who ever heard of someone who had been first lady running for President? Jill Biden is no slouch either, and wouldn’t it be fun if she ran in the primaries against her husband, what’s-his-name?
The Republicans have a binderful, too. Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire is a freshman senator (freshwoman? freshperson?), but already a leading light. Condoleezza Rice gets quite a bit of mention, and appropriately so. Among governors, Nikki Haley of South Carolina comes to mind. She’s controversial and far to the right, but she is unquestionably smart. For those who don’t consider intellect a prerequisite, there are Michele Bachmann and, yes, Sarah Palin, who has her own PAC up and running. Think of Palin as one of those Shmoo figures. You know the ones; they get knocked down, and they pop right back. That’s Sarah Palin.

Someone is bound to bring up the “Is the country ready for a woman commander in chief” question. It has an easy, “sure, why not” answer. The glass ceiling has been propped up by foolish men for a long time. Look at the mess we’ve caused. For sure, this is not about some affirmative-action campaign where males are shut out. Any guy can run if he wants. If any guy out there is all that appealing.
It’s feasible one of the men or two of them could be vice-presidential running mates. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch the male egos struggling to accept the No. 2 role? Obviously, the nominees should not be selected because of their gender, but what’s heartening is that we’ve finally come a long way baby, to where no one should be excluded either.
That may be premature. After all, that would be progress, and there are huge chunks of people in this country who consider progress to be poison. Look at the uproar over gay marriage. The unfortunate fact is we are a nation that is skittish about sexual issues, about any departure from tradition, no matter how oppressive. Still, we’ve also had a sad history of struggle over race, and look what happened in 2008. Sooner or later, we also will need to cross the gender line. If not next time around, at some point we will address our chief executive as “Madame President,” and her husband will be called the “First Gentleman.” That assumes she will be married and her spouse will be a guy. Whoa! Let’s not get too mind-blowing.

© 2013 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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