By Agnes Krup

“Mami, are you crying?” my 8-year-old daughter inquired last night.

I was in our kitchen, preparing chicken noodle soup for dinner. It was 6:40 pm or so, and I had tuned in to one of my favorite radio programs, "Marketplace" on NPR, Which had just been interrupted for a live report featuring John Edwards‘ speech at Barack Obama’s appearance in Grand Rapids, Mich.

There was no doubt as to what this meant. This was the night the Democratic race was decided. I put down my cutting knife and I wept into the shallots.

I am a green card holder. I can’t even vote. Yet I have feverishly followed the Democratic race, unable to make up my mind. What do you do with so much talent, so much integrity, so much charisma and experience (and, yes, I mean Obama’s experience, too)?

But while my European friends had declared themselves in “Obama fever” months ago, I couldn’t go there. And last night, as it was all over, I realized that I had been a Clinton supporter all along. I realized I really wanted a woman to run this country.

I am German. I have come, slowly, to appreciate Germany’s Angela Merkel for her integrity and her talent of engaging, of working things out; a truly female quality, I think. I realized I wanted something similar to happen here.

But this is an old democracy, minted by conservative Christian beliefs. As Gloria Steinem pointed out so eloquently in her op-ed in The New York Times earlier this year, it is much harder in the United States to be elected president if you are a woman than if you are an African-American male (which Obama, as we all know, is no more than Derek Jeter, the integrative short stop of the New York Yankees).

At around 6:40 last night, I remembered Steinem’s column and I also remembered a recent comment I had heard on the radio, by a woman supporting Clinton: If not she, then who? Which other woman is out there who has the prominence, the experience, the charisma, the political hunger to become president of the United States in the next decade or two? And I wept over that lost chance.

By 6:50 p. m., I put dinner on the table. I had discarded the Kleenex my daughter had handed me. I felt a lot more chipper. As Gloria Steinem had also pointed out months ago, if Obama ended up being the formidable candidate, she’d throw her whole weight behind him. With whatever little weight I had in this, I would support him, too, especially with Edwards sort of back in, and with his speech basically offering a good job to Clinton.

We can’t do any better than with these three politicians teaming up. No matter who runs in which capacity, this is an amazing possibility for America. I will not have to defend my living in the United States anymore when I go to visit friends in Europe, all of whom have been nothing but disgusted with the last seven years (and that goes for conservative friends, too). I can hold my head up high again and point to the future.

And by 6:55 p. m., as my daughter carefully lined up tiny pieces of broccoli stems outside the soup bowl, something else was clear to me: That female voter who was so fearful of no other woman fit to run for First Office need not fear.

Hillary Clinton is a trailblazer. So is Nancy Pelosi, so are several female governors, senior senators and House members. And there is a whole generation of political talent just one step behind them, some of them well-profiled on WVFC, who are very qualified and ready to step up to the plate -– not in two decades, not in one, but perhaps four years down the road.

Let’s cheer them on, let’s support them, let’s keep up the good fight. And, for all her other stellar accomplishments, past, present and future, let us always be grateful to Hillary Rodham Clinton for what is — perhaps the greatest one among them — and for so severely cracking the glass ceiling that it will have to come tumbling down, sooner rather than later.

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  • Caroline May 18, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Voters–whether male or female–should make the choice based on who is the best candidate, not based on gender or race. I’ve kept this in mind throughout the race, in which I have supported Obama from the beginning. I’m not supporting him b/c he’s black, but because I feel he is the best person for the job.
    I prefer a candidate that didn’t have the attitude of doing whatever it takes or being whoever the voters want them to be to win. I feel this is what Clinton has done as a candidate. In many ways she is not that much different from “mere mortal” women like th rest of us, who sometimes subvert their true natures in order to succeed. This is a pity (for her and all women).
    To be more specific: in her drive to win over male voters who would not ordinarily vote for a woman, Clinton has discarded many traits associated with an effective female management style–such as the willingness to listen, be open, solve problems, and negotiate–to appear more masculine. Ironically, I perceive Obama as having and embracing these traits, which is one of the reasons I support him. For example, Obama says he would meet with the new Castro regime in Cuba without pre-conditions, where Clinton says she won’t until there is evidence that change is happening. Obama has the preferential policy here, to me. How is Clinton’s stance different from Bush’s? Clinton’s stand, like so many of hers, seems to be “my way or the highway.” (Think of how she bungled the health care initiative in the 90s–a prime example of her “my way or the highway” attitude, if you’ve ever read anything about how that happened, or perhaps I should say, didn’t happen because of Clinton’s intractability.)
    Sorry, but after 8 years of Bush the Cowboy, I don’t want someone else who’s stubborn and intractable. Our country (and the world) needs a negotiator, someone who’s willing to listen, not just “totally obliterate” another country as Clinton has said she would do to Iran.
    I’ll give another way to think of it. Think about how Obama has been painted as an elitist and Hillary as a “woman of the people.” Now reverse the roles and imagine a black male candidate who bowls well and drinks beer with the fellas who promised to “totally obliterate” Iran if they bomb Israel, running against a white female who eats arugula salads and drinks merlot, who suggests that perhaps such language is a little strong and unhelpful to dialogue. There would be no painting of elitist vs. joe(jane) sixpack. It would be quite simply a race of macho man vs. prissy female and the male would win overwhelmingly. Obama can’t be painted as too “female” so instead they’re trying to get him for being “elitist.” Instead, I feel Obama exhibits characteristics usually associated with smart level-headed female politicians, while Clinton on the other hand is parading about like a testosterone-charged macho man. For me, I’m supporting the candidate who’s least like George Bush. I wish it had been Clinton but she has left too many of her female traits by the wayside in her eagerness to win.

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  • Laura Sillerman May 15, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Agnes Krup has it right once again.
    The seesaw of emotions has rocked from the beginning of this campaign as we have hoped for a leadership we could understand as well as respect. Hillary Clinton would have made a Great President, flawed as all humans are, but leading with a vision born of understanding more Americans than any president yet.
    It is a lost opportunity for this nation, but women are used to making due with the opportunities that present themselves– more than making due, in fact– making history.
    It is time to participate in a historical change for this country: one that changes the course of blinder-eyed elitism to full vision democracy, perhaps for the first time in our nation’s biography.

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  • Nan May 15, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    It has been a bumpy road for Senator Clinton and myself. I too have shed tears during the past week and my grown children have watched my emotional ups and downs; each emotion depending on what the media has to say about Hillary Clinton and how many delegates she has racked up.
    My anger has risen over Gov Napolitano of Arizona backing Obama. She is a female and her constituents voted hands down for Clinton in the primaries.
    I am sad knowing that America may not change. Yesterday Obama called a reporter “sweety”. He also called a textile factory worker sweety last month, but it didn’t reach the news until he again used the word on the reporter.
    Mostly I am sad for my daughers. In Sen Clinton I see myself and she represents me.

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