Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may trade places with Vice-President Joe Biden on the 2012 election ticket, veteran journalist Bob Woodward said yesterday. “President Obama needs some of the women, Latinos, retirees that she did so well with during the 2008 primaries,” Woodward told CNN yesterday, adding that the switcheroo is “on the table.” Did Woodward pull this speculation out of his ass? Who knows. But if Hillary Clinton did run as Obama’s #2 and he was re-elected, she would become the first-ever female VP in history.
You know what? As cool as it would be to have a woman as VP, I don’t want Hillary Clinton to run. To be honest, I don’t know what substantive things a vice president does. I mean, Dick Cheney seemed like he had his hands in the cookie jar, but what does Joe Biden do? What did Al Gore do? Give rah-rah-rah speeches to undecided voters in Bumblef**k, Ohio? Who knows/cares?
As Madam Secretary, Hillary Clinton is our ambassador to the world. In that role, she sets a tone and it’s absolutely clear to me that she’s 100 percent committed to empowering girls and women around the world and promoting gender equality. Her commitment goes above and beyond what an SOS is reasonably expected to do — ribbon cuttings at girls’ schools and whatnot. Last January, Clinton spoke at the International Conference on Population and Development about the commitment made 15 years ago by 179 governments to make reproductive health care and access to family planning services (which includes education) a basic human right. This summer, Hillary pushed for the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where raping women is used as a weapon of war, to help its rape victims. She speaks up every time girls’ access to education is attacked, like when a girls’ school in Kabul, Afghanistan, was hit with poison gas this summer. In fact, Hillary has actually been criticized for perhaps focusing too much on women and girls in developing countries instead of other, quote-on-quote “more important” issues, like the War on Terror.
Personally, I’m heartened by her tactics, because empowering women really does get at the root causes of issues like war and terrorism. The way a culture treats its women and its girls is a barometer for how healthy it is as a society. If a culture doesn’t value girls enough to educate them right alongside the boys, or ensure that mothers can give birth in the best possible conditions, or control their own fertility, it is not only stifling half of its resources but creating more problems in the process. “We cannot accept the ongoing marginalization of half the world’s population … suffering that can and should be avoided … potential that goes unfulfilled,” Hillary told the International Conference on Population and Development last year. “Investing in the health of women and girls is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.” I remember watching that speech on C-SPAN to liveblog it for The Frisky and tearing up because I was so proud that this was my country’s Secretary of State talking.
I don’t have a side-by-side-by-side comparison in front of me of what Hillary is accomplishing for women in the developing world as SOS versus what Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright accomplished. But Hillary has always been a closet feminist and as Secretary of State, she actually has the opportunity to make those beliefs a priority for our country and the world.
So please, Hillary, don’t even think about running for vice president.