Say it Ain’t So, Joe; or Where’s Hillary ClintonWhen We Need Her?

You and Me Both with Hillary Clinton

You and Me Both with Hillary Clinton

Let’s face it, being Veep* is a subservient position. But if you’re a historic first — a black woman and an Asian woman or a woman of color — it could well NOT be a stepping stone. Trump gets it.

To be clear, it being — Biden doesn’t get to call who gets the Democratic nomination, and both he and Hillary Clinton know that Harris has to begin running for president before the midterm elections of 2022, when the Democrats can expect losses in both houses of Congress. I mean, they already did poorly in this year’s congressional elections, and now you will have 66 million Trump Republicans waiting to cast their votes. While 65 percent is a GOOD thing, turnout goes both ways.

By contrast, being a historic first as a woman — as Hillary Clinton well knows — isn’t a great leadership role or thing. And by that I mean being seen as a leader (read male) who can afford to alienate any constituency.

Being a former First Lady, former junior senator from an important state, and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton knows that being historic only gets you so far.* But as President-Elect Joe Biden knows too well, being second in command, doing nothing other than waiting for bad news, is tricky when it comes to national and international leadership. Think 2010 from my epilogue in Out of Many, One or, better yet, Jill Lepore’s The Whites of Their Eyes, which she wrote in the Princeton University Press’s Public Square book series, which I, in full disclosure, edit.

Selena Meyer’s experience in Veep showed us how perilous it is to be in Kamala Harris’s historical position. Sure, it’s fictional, and only HBO, but her years as Veep showed us not only that the officeholder is in a subservient service role but that you don’t want to be anywhere near your president for the midterm, or don’t necessarily get to be seen anywhere near by your president.

Kamala Harris is shoring up President-Elect Biden. It is way better to be one of two senators of an important state, or one of one as a governor who gets to call his own show or press conferences, the way New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo does. I mean, Biden already called it — he’s a lame-duck president who won’t tempt fate and seek a second term as an octogenarian. Kamala, like him, could be next. Or will she be? Is she just the token historic?

*Hillary Clinton is now doing something else historic — running a cool podcast talking to a lot of women like the recent show on Gloria Steinem. The Kamala Harris interview was even more revealing given the tough choices she had to make as first San Francisco’s District Attorney, then California’s Attorney General. Check out

You and Me Both with Hillary Clinton

We have to look at the gendered notion of roles of presidential and vice presidential leadership. If Kamala Harris does not get enough significant stuff to do (as Biden demanded from Obama in 2008) then where will she be as she runs for president beginning in 2022? So say it ain’t so, Joe, that you’re going to give the masculine leadership positions — Secretary of State and the Attorney General — all to men.

Why would Senator Kamala Harris give up being one of two senators from the most important state besides New York — California — to be historic, sure, but to get nowhere when it comes to the Democratic nomination in 2024? Worse, if Joe appoints Andrew Cuomo to be the next Attorney General, and we already have a male Secretary of State, he’s just gendered national leadership once again. AG and Secretary of State are the only bad-ass leadership roles.

FYI, most cabinet members only serve 18 months (Trump ruined these stats. by firing everyone so these are pre-Trump stats.) Cuomo has plenty of time, then, to be the bad-ass AG male leader and still jump out to prepare for 2024 well ahead of 2022. Plus he can and will blame Biden and, by association, his competition, Vice President Kamala Harris.

So is why is Biden giving it to Cuomo, other than the very shameless self-interested politics of getting him off the COVID stage? Governor Cuomo handles the COVID crisis correctly by speaking about it to his constituents almost every day. He bested Trump, no doubt. Leadership as crisis as political management is the way to go — for a man, not a woman. Not quite the same for a woman governor, like the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, who literally got chased away into hiding by Trump’s people or Trump’s yelling fire in a theater — or what the FBI uncovered in terms of the plot to kill her and her family.

Being Secretary of State used to be the best route to the presidency. Being governor, particularly of a large state like New York is now. Making Governor Andrew Cuomo, the only strong leader against COVID, Attorney General is a mistake or is it? I’m too sleep deprived to tell. All I know is that for Biden to restore my faith that Democrats aren’t going to appoint women in all the service roles — he better not have a clean sweep of men in all the stepping-stone cabinet positions.

*Veep, the show, is closest to actual Washington, D.C. politics, or at least the politics that I saw as a Capitol Page, which is to say a fly on the wall, though a fly who had all her idealism about how the politics are made (i.e. how the sausage is made). I was an impressionable 16 to 18 years old, not even a college or university aged intern. Capitol Pages for the House of Representatives don’t exist anymore. since the Republicans (i.e. Speaker of the House John Boehner) realized they were jail bait. It was one thing when they were sexually harassing the girls and women (like my member of Congress who yelled “Ruthie” out to the whole of the Republican side of the floor — he was drunk — during one of Democratic President Jimmy Carter’s State of the Union addresses). I knew enough to run. My mom taught me well enough to avoid conflict, so I headed for the Republican cloak room. I knew Congressman William Ketchum was too drunk to chase me in there, and besides there was a wonderful woman who would protect me if it came to that. Veep, an inside-the-Beltway show, faithfully depicts how little politicians care about actual people, though they all care about the (or I should say now “their”) public (read their base, a base that only a Trumpster can afford to alienate). Women leaders have to practice an all inclusive ethic of care type of national leadership.

New York Running Insult Tally

Click on URL below since the New York Times keeps adding to who President Donald J. Trump, our 45th, insults. Plenty of stories to tell with this material, hence Jim Phelan’s reference to Narratives as well as the ole’ machine folk is like me started using when we were in.

Stories We Told mode. (Check out https://ruthobrien.org/2020/10/05/stories-we-tell-part-2/ ). I’ve been insulted for writing since I was 12 years old. The first insulter-in-power was my Principal Morrisey who ran Thompson Junior High School in Bakersfield CA. He told me to knock off writing letters that the Bakersfield Californian published. I ignored him and wrote at least one more to show him I would not be cowed.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/28/upshot/donald-trump-twitter-insults.html

black vintage typewriter
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Kamala as “Mama-ela”

Nothing better than that. Do I have to say Harris? We can certainly applaud Maya Rudolph, though.

FYI, Mama-ela or WOP (read Woman as President, okay, the O is off) but good enough for me and Fred, since we like our acronyms. (SLAMs, SCAMs, SLIMs – Fred coins them just as he coined PRISM when I taught it the second time around — it is Power, Resistance, Identities, and Social Movements, or my take on social movements in the United States and abroad.)

American social movements used to have an impact. Our social-movement leaders from the 18th and 19th and 20th and 21st centuries influence those in Europe and other continents as well.

Take a look at my favorite crossover — crossing the Atlantic backwards, in other words — and that is Gluing in Paris. Check it out. #BLM influenced them. I wrote about Bodies in Revolt a lot earlier in 2005 and never came up with a name as clever as Kamala asa Mammala — we can argue about the spelling. Certain people can complain about pronouncing WOP, though it is spelled WAP.

I am certainly teaching the American Presidency* from this perspective, not that I knew that Kamala would even become Mammala, let alone that WAP is pronounced WAP!!!!!!!!

Having waited 20 years and having been appointed EO three times, DEO two times, I never got picked to teach this. Of course I was required to teach it when in my tenure-track and tenured positions (I went straight from Ph.D. almost done to tenure-track positions.)

Oh yeah, and I wrote, what, 4 books that depend on the American presidency and involved me using documents from presidents (T. Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, not Eisenhower, but then JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and of course Obama). but I couldn’t convince the man who taught me about the American presidency to read my book on Obama (oh well) and abandon my original field of capitalism and political theory. He was a great inspiration, Sterling Professor at Yale University Stephen Skowronek, that is.

I’m now sufficiently presidential or senior to get this assignment. I’m thrilled. So, now I realize I gotta fill in and gain more presidents’ documents — so, having interviewed only Ronald Reagan, I am now looking at documents from George to William (that is, Washington to McKinley) in my 385-year history of heretical women who are my direct descendants. While only one of us got to vote (in New Jersey, where women could vote between 1792 and 1801) before suffrage, we found workarounds — means to participate in politics when men told us to shhhh or even shut the *&^%? up, like CMC’s club the GCO, led by faculty and students. I think all the faculty were men, but . . . . .