Archive for Monday, February 13, 2006

From Kansas Statehouse to White House?

Political journalist suggests Kathleen Sebelius has right qualifications for president

February 13, 2006


For years, politicos and rights advocates have debated about who may have the right combination of political tools and savvy to become the first woman president.

Sunday night at the Dole Institute of Politics, pundit, author and journalist Eleanor Clift said eventually, the search may end right here in Kansas - with Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

"She comes from a political family, and she's done a good job," Clift told the packed house at the institute. "She is the kind of woman who you could imagine having prospects."

For the second installment of the institute lecture series "The First Woman President," Clift said that her experience, both as a professional woman and a political journalist, has left her feeling like the world is ready for a Ms. President, but the lack of suitable candidates waiting to run could slow an already crawling push toward a woman in the Oval Office.

"They have to be the female George Washington," Clift said.

The Sunday night event was held at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics.

The Sunday night event was held at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics.

Clift is a contributing editor to Newsweek magazine. Among her books is "Madam President: Shattering the Last Glass Ceiling," published in 2000 and updated for paperback in 2003.

Although Sebelius' long-term political aspirations are a mystery, Clift said that candidates in her position are often ripe for a presidential push.

For several election cycles, governors have been elected to the White House while U.S. senators have typically been vice presidents.

Which, she said, doesn't bode well for Hillary Clinton, the New York senator with suspected presidential aspirations. She's a strong woman, Clift said, but being a senator isn't her only drawback.

Although she pulled through with grace, she will forever be tied to the scandals of her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Plus, she said, Democrats likely feel that they can win back the White House, but a woman candidate right now may jeopardize their chances.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - who has denied interest in running for president - knows foreign policy and is a commanding presence. But she's an academic, Clift said, more suited for the vice presidency than commander-in-chief.

After them, she said, the pipeline isn't exactly brimming with good candidates.

Newsweek Contributing Editor and McLaughlin Group Panelist, Eleanor Clift speaks during The Presidential Lecture Series entitled The First Woman President.

Newsweek Contributing Editor and McLaughlin Group Panelist, Eleanor Clift speaks during The Presidential Lecture Series entitled The First Woman President.

Clift worried that many women fall prey to the same concerns when contemplating a presidential push: They'll appear weak, the self-confidence won't be there, that politics are too dirty.

"It's never going to be cleaned up," she said. "You've got to get in it, and you've got to get in it now."

But there's hope yet, Clift said. A decade ago, Bill Clinton and Bob Dole ran a heated race for the White House. Now, their wives hold Senate offices while the men are in the spouse's club.

A lot has changed already, Clift said. She thinks that there is much more - the shattering of the final glass ceiling - just over the horizon.

"We are taking our place just about everywhere," she said. "Progress is definitely being made."


rtwngr 11 years, 10 months ago

What Anne Coulter is for the right, Eleanor Clift is for the left.

mcoan 11 years, 10 months ago

Great, more milquetoast for the Democrats. Sebelius won't even stand up to and criticize the Extreme Right in Kansas, so it's hard to believe she would do so as Prez. As far as I can tell, she avoids controversy like The Plague.

Face it: The Dems have no guts, and no leader.

staff04 11 years, 10 months ago

Didn't Coulter physically threaten the "looney" leftists when she spoke at KU? Something about inviting the "biggest college Republicans" to remove those whose views were not aligned with hers?

I guess that should be defined as tolerance...

ben_ness 11 years, 10 months ago

Ann Coulter is a nut and Kathleen Sebelius doesn't have a chance in Hell of winning the White House as very few people outside of KS know who she is.

To mcoan: Remember this name: Mark Warner.

bankboy119 11 years, 10 months ago

By the way, Coulter is a nut for the most part and there's no way Sebelius would win. She hasn't even been able to run Kansas efficiently.

bankboy119 11 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

ben_ness 11 years, 10 months ago

Bankboy - Your mentality is precisely what is wrong with average neo-con voter - if you know what neo-con means. Considering you are so knowledgeable about the Nazi "regimen" my guess would be that you don't. Also, If you look at current demographics you will find most Jews are democrats. Interesting that you compare them to Hitler and his Nazi REGIME.

robinrander 11 years, 10 months ago

I think she'll run, or at least be encouraged to or picked as a VP. And I think she'd win. The only Democrat to find success in the last 25 years? A Democratic governor of a small conservative state.

staff04 11 years, 10 months ago

ben_ness has it right on. Mark Warner will be the next Democratic nominee for president, and if Bush and the party in general's approval ratings stay where they are, likely the next POTUS.

ben_ness 11 years, 10 months ago

Besides their political agenda being different. The extreme right and the extreme left actually seem to be very similar in their actions. Their adherence to their party line has created an unprecedented diviciveness in the constituency of politicians on both sides of the house. People no longer educate themselves on the agenda of politicians and vote only for a name associated with a party. This ignorance and apathy has created a puppet/puppetteer relationship between the voter and the politician. The "People" no longer run this country.

ben_ness 11 years, 10 months ago

I would have to admit, though, that Holygrailale's statements make a whole hell of a lot more sense than pilgrim's and bankboy's.

ben_ness 11 years, 10 months ago

Staff04: Thank you for the kudos. BTW - I live in Northern VA, right outside Washington DC. Warner is a superb leader, as his management of VA reflects. His moderate values, and business savvy will be a boon to the Fed's when/if he is elected POTUS.

Jamesaust 11 years, 10 months ago

Eleanor Clift, whose opinions I probably disagree with on every point, is a pundit and author who stands well within the mainstream of political thought, even if to the far left. She usually accepts the barbs of others with a genuine goodnature. She's well-regarded enough to be an occasional contributor to Fox News.

Coulter, whom I am more likely to agree with than Clift, has the great gift of being able to spew outrageous soundbites in great quantity, and is generally a nut listened to by only the most partisan and fascist of rightwingers. I find no difference between Muslims threatening "cartoon" violence and the regular calls to violence that Coulter espouses towards her political opponents, which range from terrorism, to poisoning, to bashing in their skulls with baseball bats.

To compare these two is absurd.

badger 11 years, 10 months ago

You say no one outside of Kansas knows who she is.

However, in 2004, just before Edwards was announced, I was asked point-blank by a political theorist from the West Coast how I felt about her, because some people in his circle got all het up about the fact that she took a surprise jaunt to DC in the week before the VP spot was announced. They wanted the opinion of a bona fide Kansan because her name had surfaced a couple-three times since she took office and, "She looks pretty good on paper. How is it having her as Governor?"

I said I thought well of her because she's done well as a moderate Democrat in a very conservative state. After Edwards was announced, he said that with a well-run campaign, she could be a serious contender in 2008.

As for her 'not standing up to the Extreme Right'? She's done it within her purview. She's opposed Phil Kline's fishing expedition. She couldn't stop the ID debacle because she doesn't have any power over the Board of Education. What do you want her to do, go all John Brown on the Phelps compound?

Besides, silencing the right's lunatic fringe is the job of moderate Republicans. It's not the Democrats' job to fix the fact that a bunch of lunatic whackjobs have hijacked the party of fiscal stability and economic responsibility into the party of enforced pseudomorality and histrionic evangelism.

ben_ness 11 years, 10 months ago

Badger - Perhaps some people outside KS know who she is. However, considering the abysmal condition of KS, her nomination by the democratic party would ensure a republican victory in '08.

staff04 11 years, 10 months ago

ben_ness: We're neighbors. Virginia Square Metro for me...

Hawkarma 11 years, 10 months ago

Sebelius would make an outstanding President, Vice-President or Cabinent Secretary. She's demonstrated sound leadership for a solid three years, as evidenced by Time Magazine's recent distinction naming her one of the "Five Best Governors."

Let those on the far right tinker with needless social issues. Most moderate Kansans know the three most important things a Governor should concern him or herself with are (1) Education, (2) the Economy, and (3) Health Care. In that regard, Sebelius fits the bill to a tee.

Speaking as a moderate from a historically-Republican Kansas family... Sebelius is far better than I ever imagined.

ben_ness 11 years, 10 months ago

Staff04 - No kidding! I live in Windsor Plaza off N. Utah. About two blocks down the road from you. I stop at your Starbucks all the time if I am heading towards Clarendon. Are you from Lawrence Originally?

ben_ness 11 years, 10 months ago

Hawkarma - That is a compelling argument; however, considering the tarnished reputation Kansas currently has, I would surmise she would have a tough time countering the spin of the robust conservative media.

badger 11 years, 10 months ago

I think she'd be a far better fit for the VP slot than the Presidential one on a ticket.

As to the 'abysmal condition of Kansas', she inherited most of it, and she's taken some steps to try and turn things around.

What I'm saying, I guess, is that as the moderate Democratic governor of a fairly poor, generally conservative, little-known state, she has as good a chance today of being inaugurated in 2009 as Bill Clinton did in 1990 of being inaugurated in 1993. Perhaps better, because she doesn't seem to have the taint of scandal he had even then.

Warner would be an excellent choice, I agree. No matter how it plays out, I would prefer for the President and the Houses of Congress not to all be of the same party. I truly feel it is better for the country if the left and the right have to compromise and work together. It creates slower change, but more lasting, and tends to mean that instead of dividing strictly on party lines, you have a lot more occasions when the moderates of both parties fall in with something because it's palatable to all but the extremists of one style or another.

ben_ness 11 years, 10 months ago

Holygrailale - My pleasure. Your points were right on.

Badger - It is a very tough job Sebelius has taken on; it will definitely take her more than one term to right all of the wrongs. My concern is the average voter may not be fully prepared to face the idea of a woman holding such a high office, and I am not speaking for myself.

staff04 11 years, 10 months ago

holygrailale: good question. I doubt Clinton would take the VP nomination. I'm really not even that sure that she will actually end up declaring candidacy for POTUS this term. I really think her political days are limited.

Maybe a dual governor ticket? Warner/Sebelius?

I know it sounds kind of far-fetched, but I recall she was mentioned as a possible VP nominee last time around.

staff04 11 years, 10 months ago

Oh wow. I swear badger, I started that post a long time ago and yours posted somewhere inbetween. I didn't try to snag your idea...

dviper 11 years, 10 months ago

Sebelius, will never be the US president, let alone even nominated by the Democratic party. She is not far enough to the Liberal left to be considered a real candidate. However, the VP spot could be a possibility, but would be a long shot.

If she did run as a candidate for president, she would probably be shreaded by the far Liberal left that controls the Democratic party (Ie... Dean, Kerry, Kennedy).

badger 11 years, 10 months ago

It's OK, staff04. I know you're one of those Washington types and you probably have a warrantless wiretap on my keyboard or something...don't they give you one of those for free with your monthly Metro pass these days?


holygrailale, I get in more trouble for that story. It was my much more famous cousin Logan. He's from a much angrier branch of the mustelid family.

staff04 11 years, 10 months ago

Just saw that Taff got 15 months for his fraud case. That sucks...

ben_ness 11 years, 10 months ago

Staff04 - Sucks that he didn't get more time or vice versa?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 10 months ago

Nothing wrong with draft dodging in my book, just don't be a disingenuous chickenhawk about it. Clinton is guilty of that, but he's a rank amateur compared Bush/Cheney et al.

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