Yade, appointed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy as Secretary of State for Human Rights in 2007, blew off Sarkozy’s request to run as a candidate for his party in June’s European Union election and disappear to Strasbourg. Yade has ruffled a few feathers within the government majority party by not doing what she’s told, yet remains the most popular politician in France, and survived a recent Cabinet reshuffling as a result.
Longevity in a notoriously nasty game also earns respect. Nancy Pelosi, giving these healthcare press conferences, looks more in control than Obama. And looks don’t deceive. With a 30 year political career, Pelosi has been sitting in Congress since the days when Obama was gunning for that affirmative action opening at Harvard. Regardless of her ideology, she has managed to survive – and I’m sure the Blue Dog Democrats currently making healthcare bill demands would rather be dealing with Obama than President Pelosivich. The problem in dealing with people who so many have tried to break is that they have a track record of survival. That can be a scary thing for opponents.
It’s possible to command respect and still be feminine. You don’t have to go rampaging through the corridors of power tossing whatever testosterone you can muster up into your male colleagues’ faces. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seemed to know this. She was a classy, classical pianist who looked amazing in an evening gown, but could take on the Russians at the bargaining table. It’s not necessary, as a woman, to smoke cigars and backslap your male colleagues before heading off with them on a fishing trip. That just makes you look as ridiculous as the politician who changes ethnic headgear depending on which vote-pandering gathering he’s attending. Margaret Thatcher was reportedly a huge flirt. She said of her Deputy Prime Minister, Willie Whitelaw: “I don’t know what I would do without Whitelaw. Everyone should have a Willie.” But she didn’t go power-suit shopping with him.
We don’t need more affirmative action political appointments for women – the ones who have managed to get there on merit are there for good reason. Natural selection among females in the political jungle is alive and well.