Anne Kornblut of the Washington Post suggests that Caroline Kennedy’s failed attempt to be appointed Senator may demonstrate that “a glass ceiling persists in politics.” Kornblut cites Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton as other female candidates who may have encountered that ceiling.
However, an analysis of these three cases pretty much demolishes the glass ceiling thesis. In Kennedy’s case, the Senate seat went to another women, Kirstin Gillibrand. Moreover, Gillibrand rise illustrates how low the barriers to political entry can be for women. She had never run for office until 2006.
Palin illustrates the same thing. She was nominated for Vice President of the United States despite having held major office for less than two years. It’s pretty clear that McCain selected Palin in part because of her gender in the hope of doing well among female voters in the aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Gender, then, was a plus, not a minus.
Furthermore, although Kornblut is correct that the MSM treated Palin unfairly (nice of the Washington Post finally to have noticed) that treatment is not what prevented her from becoming the VP. If this had been a Republican year, Palin would, thanks to her gender, be a heartbeat away from the presidency, a position for which (in my view) she is not qualified.
And speaking of “what ifs,” it’s quite clear that Hillary Clinton would be president today if she had voted against going to war with Iraq. Even having voted in favor of the war, a virtual sin as far as most Democrats are concerned, she narrowly missed out on the Democratic nomination which, this year, was a ticket to the White House.
There is, then, no glass ceiling for women in politics. But it is in the interest of feminists to claim that such a celing exists.
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