Hillary Clinton Should be Vice President Because Empathy

Ladies, Bill Keller wants you to know that he was really thinking outside the box yesterday. He has this crazy idea. Wait for it: Hillary Clinton for VP.

I know, I know, it’s pretty out there. You’re probably thinking the idea of a woman a heartbeat away from the presidency is preposterous. Don’t worry! Hillary was “perfectly plausible” last time around, much to our surprise that the country could ever take a woman seriously. But does she have the qualifications? Rest assured, unlike most mediocre ladies, she could be “the first woman at the top [with] qualifications so manifest that her first-ness was a secondary consideration.” Who else could pull that off?

And it’s because she’s a woman that we really need her. Her “warmth” is missing from the campaign. Her “empathetic ability” could guide a new approach. Like a good wife, “She listens, she learns from her mistakes.” Oh yeah, and she’s a “dutiful Methodist schoolgirl” who won’t turn down the president for anything he asks. (After all, “She has, to put it mildly, an ability to navigate the world of powerful, problematic men.” Yuk yuk.) No man has these qualities. All ladies do. Done and done. Oh yeah, and one other thing – every female voter will totally go in for Obama with Hillary on the ticket (because we vote with our vaginas).

***

Can I be serious for a moment? It’s fine with me that Bill Keller has some obsessive fantasy about Hillary as vice president, even in the face of the real likelihood that it’s not going to happen. If he’s right about anything, it’s that Hillary has done an exceptional job in her post and she “embodies the aspirations of many women.”

But he falls into a trap that catches people over and over again: arguing that we need more women in higher office by claiming that women have more empathy, more “warmth,” a higher inclination to be conciliatory, [add other stereotypical female traits here], when in reality women are a diverse bunch of people. (Remember when the media had decided Hillary was a nagging shrew?) Yes we need more women in office. Yes a female vice president (or president) would set a great example for young women – and all people – in this country. But we can make that argument minus the stereotyping (and icky condescension).

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