Is America Now South Asia?

No developed country in the world actually bestows political office on women because they were once the wives of presidents. It has tended to happen in South Asia - Sri Lanka, India, the Philippines - but certainly not in modern, developed, Western societies. Argentina is busy electing a sitting First Lady, but it doesn't exactly inspire confidence that a mature democracy like the US would be following South America. Geoffrey Wheatcroft compares the nepotistic path used by Hillary Rodham Clinton to achieve power with the meritocratic efforts of a Thatcher or a Meir or a Merkel, actual rather than phony feminists, who never tried to wield power by marrying it. He also points out the lack of experience that Clinton has in governing anything:

Seven years ago, she turned up in New York, a state with which she had a somewhat tenuous connection, expecting to be made senator by acclamation (particularly once Rudy Giuliani decided not to run against her). Until that point, she had never won or even sought any elective office, not in the House or in a state legislature. Nor had she held any executive-branch position. The only political task with which she had ever been entrusted was her husband's health-care reforms, and she made a complete hash of that.

She got that job through pure nepotism and cronyism. And her use of a man's power to fuel her own was a major setback for American feminism. But she continues, deploying her husband's presidency as a reason to vote for her. Maybe it takes a foreigner to see what is in front of our nose:

Hillary Rodham Clinton has become a potential president because she is famous for being a wife (and a wronged wife at that). Europe has long since accepted the great 19th-century liberal principle of "the career open to the talents." In the 21st century, isn't it time that the republic founded on the proposition that all men are created equal -- and women, too, one hopes -- also caught up with it?

Not if the Clinton machine can help it.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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