By Brent Budowsky - 06/28/10 11:51 PM EDT
Recently I wrote a column titled “The Female Century” modeled after the notion of Walter Lippman and the American Century. After primaries in various states, the idea is gathering steam that something profound is happening with the achievement of women across the landscape of modern life.
Nothing better dramatizes this than comparing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Babe Ruth of achievement, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who deserves credit for her success but is nowhere near Clinton’s league as a potential president for the future.
Whether she is elected governor of California or not (I hope not), Meg Whitman has certainly shown brilliance at running a business. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) is a force to be reckoned with in the Congress. If Nikki Haley is elected governor of South Carolina, she will have her chance and might pull it off, though she will never quit her term halfway through it.
The rise of women is not proven by California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina making fun of the hair of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Fiorina embodies a gender-neutral arrogance of power. She was fired as CEO by the board of Hewlett-Packard after laying off thousands of workers and managing the company poorly.
California was an early adapter in the rise of women by electing Boxer, who has served in the House and Senate and now chairs a committee. Boxer has amassed a major body of achievement.
Nor is the rise of women demonstrated by Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who now insults jobless workers. When Angle suggests those receiving jobless benefits are lazy, she insults women and men. No achievement here. What matters in the rise of women is the work, not the words, and the achievement, not the gender.
Hillary Clinton is a Babe Ruth of achievement, based on any standard. The secretary of State is the most popular political leader in either party, respected and admired by men and women around the world. She earned it.
Clinton has accomplished an impressive number of achievements as lawyer, advocate for children, highly influential first lady with a two-term president, United States senator, presidential candidate who competed virtually equally with President Obama in a historic campaign and now as secretary of State.
Palin is one of the great media personalities of our age, brilliant at merchandising herself, unparalleled as a communicator to the most conservative 30 percent of the nation and a big-league Republican kingmaker.
But Palin quit her only high-level job — governor — a move that would be unthinkable for Clinton. Can you imagine Palin as commander in chief of American troops in war, negotiating Middle East peace or discussing world finance with the Group of 20?
If the grand battle ever comes between Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin for the presidency, I will bet my life savings on Clinton, though I tip my hat to all women who are leaving glass ceilings behind, where they belong.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.