Friday, August 16, 2013

Stop the constant campaign

It’s silly that we no longer have any breaks in between the quadrennial horse races that are now American presidential campaigns.
    With three years until the first Tuesday in November 2016, speculations about front-runners and also-rans are full throated, and the name most often bandied about by pundits and Washington insiders is Hillary Rodham Clinton.
    The notion of the first woman president may be as compelling as was that of the first African-American.  Last Sunday, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd charged that Hillary has never really stopped her pursuit of being that woman, although Dowd then predicted that hers would not be a historic first administration but rather an extension of President Bill Clinton’s days in the Oval Office.
    This image has some historic parallels with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. She was a powerful, often independent voice throughout her husband’s presidency. Dowd’s comment that a Hillary presidency would be Bill Clinton’s third term reflects the strength of the Clintons’ shared skills as politicians. But it ignores how much gender assumptions have changed.
    Hillary Clinton has more chops than most in her public service track record. She was elected and served as both a U.S. senator from New York and U.S. secretary of state. In neither office was there any implication that she was simply a surrogate for Bill Clinton.
    A legitimate female candidate would, however, provide endless opportunity for time-filling, mindlessly stereotypical analysis. Instead of talking about new policies and new directions, pundits like anchor Steve Doocy on “Fox and Friends” already spend time speculating about whether Hillary Clinton has recently had a face lift. If that’s the best television media can do in the process of identifying a potential leader of the free world, there’s no need to rush campaign coverage.
    Before worrying about a third Clinton administration or plastic surgery, the media might do better to consider the positive and negative rhetoric that might result from electing the first woman president. Or to focus on the work of the Obama administration, which still has 1,256 days to run.
    The 24-hour news cycle guarantees that we know a great deal about stuff that doesn’t matter at all. The country is not well served by the nonsense of a constant campaign ginning up drama about who’s up and who’s down, who will run and who will be tossed.
    It’s time to take a break and let Americans finish out the summer with some peace in the arena of presidential politics.

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