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10 “Must Haves” for the Woman Who Would Be President

10 “Must Haves” for the Woman Who Would Be President
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Written by Diana Bartelli Carlin, Nichola D. Gutgold and Theodore F. Sheckels, Women’s Media Center

As the list of presidential contenders thins, it is likely that the 2012 U.S. presidential final will be an all-male affair. Our forthcoming book invites the audience to consider women with qualifications to serve as president and explores reasons, few of them reasonable, why they have been dismissed as presidential contenders.

We identify the Top Ten “Must Haves” for women who want to be president—qualities that draw voters to women candidates, even those who might not be demanding in the same way of men seeking the highest office.

1. Credentials
Women not only have to have government experience but successful campaigning experience. And, as the case of Elizabeth Dole suggests, that campaigning experience must be on your own behalf, not for your spouse. A future female president should have foreign policy experience. Despite the presence of numerous women leaders internationally, such as Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s or Angela Merkel today, the U.S. electorate still tends to see the conduct of foreign affairs as male-defined.

2. Fundraising
Women who are being considered for the presidency must have the ability to raise the money necessary for a long, expensive campaign. Historically women have found it difficult to garner the financial support men have. Hillary Clinton in 2008 certainly raised a significant sum as has Michelle Bachmann for the 2012 campaign. No one doubts Sarah Palin’s ability to garner financial support. So, perhaps, this “barrier” is coming down.

3. Charisma
Women who are being considered for the presidency must be charismatic or, at least, dynamic. Lack of charisma is more of a disqualifying trait for women, such as Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, than it has been for men, such as Michael Dukakis and George H.W. Bush. A restrained style may well be highly effective if one is trying to either court business or work with the opposition, but that style does not attract media beyond state lines. Women without the requisite panache fall below the radar.

4. Assertiveness
A woman, however, cannot push that dynamism too far, for, fourth, women who are being considered for the presidency must not be overly assertive or aggressive. Should they do so, they run the risk of being dismissed with the b____ word. That has been a fate suffered by Barbara Mikulski and Nancy Pelosi. That was the fate that Hillary Clinton constantly back-pedaled from in her 2008 campaign. There’s a marked difference in perspective between how male and female aspirants are viewed: aggressive males are said to be in need of reining in their style when it truly becomes uncivil; aggressive females are said to be inherently nasty should they state their views strongly too often.

5. An Attractive Appearance
Women who are being considered for the presidency must be attractive and, furthermore, must expect their appearance to be front-and-center in the media coverage of a campaign. Dianne Feinstein’s expensive attire and “Snow White” hairstyle; Barbara Mikulski’s short stature and “roly-poly” physique; Kathleen’s Sebelius’ dress color and toenail polish; Nancy Pelosi’s mauve designer suits and cosmetic surgery—commentators will focus on all such attributes. Men running for the presidency will not draw comparable attention; furthermore, physical traits will rarely disqualify them. Some might note their height (Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis), their weight (Chris Christie), and their suit color (Al Gore), but these traits will not be what media coverage notes first and, then, dwells upon.

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76 comments

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10:02AM PST on Dec 6, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

6:49PM PST on Dec 18, 2011

Wow..

10:30AM PST on Dec 16, 2011

And this article summons up quite well what is wrong with America...

10:27AM PST on Dec 16, 2011

@leslie P. CLINTON in 2012 and 2016 - o stold the nomination from her in 2008 and has made a MESS of things.

4:31AM PST on Dec 12, 2011

Thanks for the article.

6:55PM PST on Dec 11, 2011

I think that the best man for the job is a WOMAN. I would vote for Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren before any of the men running.

10:42AM PST on Dec 8, 2011

Interesting...

10:20AM PST on Dec 8, 2011

It would be nice to see her as our president.

9:32AM PST on Dec 8, 2011

Cont'd. Sorry for the double posting, but once again they are not showing up on Care2 until I have exited all of the newsletter and returned.

Maybe it is time that we started over, don't you think? Maybe it is time to judge a candidate by how well they understand what needs to be done for the American people in total, not just 1%; for the planet both environmentally and financially; and who has the guts to speak the truth to the American people, even when it is painful, so that the people can make decisions for themselves and demand that the government act to protect this nation. Maybe, just maybe, it is time to stop electing professional politicians and well handled fools, and start electing people with real solutions to very real problems that affect us all.

VOTE FOR AMERICA IN 2012!

http://www.weeeevoteamerica2012.org
http://www.devonnollforpresident2012.org
Follow me on YouTube under "Devon Noll" and on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

9:31AM PST on Dec 8, 2011

Okay, I have read these criteria and I am not exactly sure how to respond to this article. By all reason, the article clearly would make my unqualified for the job of President on several grounds: looks, credentials, fundraising, and on and on. In other words, I would have to look like a Barbie doll of female attractiveness, have a superior bank account, tons of experience in government, be able to speak in public like an accomplished orator, and never stress the fact that I am a heterosexual female whose husband is no saint. What a wonderful collection of criteria for a president, and one that not even one candidate running can aspire to - male or female!

We have used these criteria for generations to vote in men who have trashed our economy, abandoned our people in favor of corporate money and post-office jobs, who looked good and could not think their ways out of a paper bag, who are great talkers, but really poor doers. Maybe it is time that we started over, don't you think? Maybe it is time to judge a candidate by how well they understand what needs to be done for the American people in total, not just 1%; for the planet both environmentally and financially; and who has the guts to speak the truth to the American people, even when it is painful, so that the people can make decisions for themselves and demand that the government act to protect this nation. Maybe, just maybe, it is time to stop electing professional politicians and well handled fools, and start

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