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Peggy Noonan on "Women and the Political Process"
The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist offers her perspective on women, politics and the future of a female president.
Women are more influential in American politics than ever before, and one will soon become the first female president. It's just a matter of time.
That was one of the conclusions Peggy Noonan, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Wall Street Journal, offered in her address, "An Evening of Perspective with Peggy Noonan: Women and the Political Process," at Southern Methodist University on March 27.
Noonan thinks the first female president will either be a conservative or a Republican, more centrist than progressive. Although she admitted that might not be the case, she's sure there will be a female president, and it won't be too far in the future.
"It looks to me to be inevitable," she said.
She maintained that the focus on gender in American politics, particularly the way it was emphasized during Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, will make it difficult for other women to succeed as presidential candidates. Noonan contrasted that focus with three successful female leaders: Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi.
"They didn't make gender an issue," she said. They succeeded by exhibiting strong leadership while directly addressing the political challenges of their times.
Noonan noted Susan Collins (Maine), Shelley Capito (West Virginia) and Joni Ernst (Iowa) as exceptional examples of potential Republican presidential candidates.
She said the Democrats have several possible candidates who are tough, serious and not radical. She pointed to several current Senators who are, in her opinion, more than worthy of the presidency, especially Diane Feinstein (California) and Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota).
Regardless of party, the next woman to vie for the presidency will have to follow in the wake of the Clinton candidacy.
"Hillary was a flawed candidate. Period," she said, emphasizing the aura of destiny the party created around her campaign. Clinton was unable to understand the public outside of a narrow progressive circle. In effect, the candidate failed to connect with the same working-class voters in the way her husband did with such success. Noonan also believes Clinton was stalked by a reputation riddled with scandal dating back to her days as First Lady of Arkansas. She said similar baggage does not follow the Senators she believes could all make viable candidates.
Clinton's continued claims that her election loss was the result of sexism is puzzling to Noonan.
"I just think it's not true."
Noonan challenged the whole idea that modern American politics was divided by the notion of "women's issues." The old notion that women's issues equal only social issues is misplaced, and once the electorate can fully come to grips with this, an American woman will serve as head of state with same capacities for leadership as Thatcher, Meir and Gandhi.
"Everything is a woman's issue," Noonan said. "They are looking out for the country as much as any man."
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