So, will Obama shatter the glass ceiling? That is the question

So, will Obama shatter the glass ceiling? That is the question
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First Published: Thu, Jun 05 2008. 04 06 PM IST
Updated: Thu, Jun 05 2008. 04 06 PM IST
New York: Sitting on the leather couch in the living room sofa is not something that I am inclined to do very frequently, thanks to being cursed by what experts on human nature will tell you is the classic A type personality which makes me too restless to stay rooted anywhere.
But from 6pm on Tuesday evening , I have more or less been the sole occupant of the the sofa , eyes rivetted on news telecasts that continously built up the excitement as the American people inch slowly and torturously towards possibly electing the country’s first ever African-American President .
As the democratic party in the United States makes its most audacious attempt to get the white house back into its fold, it is also set to shatter what has been a kind of the political version of the famed glass ceiling. Americans never dreamt that someday they would have a black man as its leader And Americans certainly have come nowhere close to having a power woman in the hot seat either.Women in the white house have been by and large been playing the perfect companion to the perfect first man of this country- the gorgeous, incredibly glamorous Jacquiline Kennedy to Hillary who played the articulate, tremendously attractive and intelligent mate to her husband Bill Clinton, two times president of the United States.
By 8pm Tuesday it was all over for Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first woman in this country’s history who even came within dreaming distance of making it to the white house as the first woman President of this country. By that time Obama had already got much more super delegates on his side than he needed and all he needed to do was to go out there on stage at Minnesotta where he was to address a gathering , to mark the formal end of the democratic primary season. Media pundits had already spent the day predicting that Clinton would finally hang up her boots and concede the race to her much younger and lesser experienced democratic co-contestant.
But that was before Clinton arrived , flanked by her husband Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea and took center stage at South Dakota, in her home state. So much has been said about women and their ability to keep the flock together and their sensitivity to everybody around them and the kindness and their graciousness. All these were completely, glaringly , tragically absent from Senator Clinton’s speech Tuesday evening.
The speech began on a positive enough note with Clinton thanking Obama for his acheivments and the fine way in which he ran his campaign. But that was the sum total of all the graciousness the lady showed during her last address to her voters at the end of what was possibly the longest ever primary season this country has seen.
Clinton’s speech, expected by almost all political experts and the media as her big opportunity to unite the party and build bridges with Obama, by now the official democratic nominee for the Presidential elections, ended up being nothing more than a defiant announcement that she remained the stronger candidate in the race with the most votes garnered in the primary .But did it give her the right to use the public platform to talk at length about her own acheivements and completely fail to even acknowledge that in some way, Obama himself had created history, by becoming the country’s first ever african –American nominee for president of the country? Clinton made no mention of the fact that Obama had clinched the nomination and that itself is likely to cost her heavily in terms of brownie points.
Grace and humility and generosity of heart is not something that is rehearsed,these are inherent traits and possibly traits that come from values taught as children. Clinton showed a terrible paucity of these with her failure to acknowledge the victory of her co-contestant with humility. The lady had it all wrong from word go, causing a media representative in one of the countless televised debates to call the Clintons narcissistic losers.
As for the man who created history by becoming the first ever African-American nominee for President of America, the man who showed the world that anything is possible on the wings of hope and a little faith in oneself and in the wisdom of the public, his speech was everything that his opponents should have had.
The man walked into a stadium in Minnesotta where over 10,000 people waited for hours to listen to him and began his speech by first acknowldging the accomplishment of his democratic rival. “This is not my day but hers”, he said to a crowd that went hysterical over the comment. “She has accomplished what no woman in this country has dreamt of and that is because of her commitment , her conviction and belief in the causes she has worked for”, he said. There is no greater weapon than humility.
The man who came out of the blue an year and a half back to stake his claim to a position that has till now been only the domain of this country’s rich and the connected, succeeded in just a few sentences, to convert what could have been a victory speech to one which showed his leadership abilities.Not many who witnessed the speech, telecast live on national television, could have missed the fact that the first time senator did not mention the fact even once that he was in someway setting out to rewrite the history of this country by attempting to be its first black President. But then, throughout his campaign he has never once used his race to get himself votes or sympathy or funds.
The Obama campaign has been based on his promise to bring about change and he has succeeded even before he has become the President. His speech changed the perception, no, the fact that selfishness and greed is what rules political life. In reaching out to Clinton, acknowledging her accomplishments and by expressing his hope that the party could benefit from their working together for the good of the nation, he has already changed the face of this election.
As for Clinton, one can see that as a woman, it is easy to see why it is so hard to let go, especially since it has been such a close race. Over the last few years one has seen her work tirelessly to get recognized as a person, indepdentent of Bill Clinton. For several years now she has worked on the issues closest to her heart, namely primary education and health insurance for every American who needs it and is currently unable to afford it. As President of America, and she was sure it would be a cake walk for her, before an almost unknown man from Chicago arrived on the scene with nothing but his conviction carrying him, she was all set to action the many schemes she had in mind to bring about sweeping reforms in health care and education.
For millions of American women, struggling with a life walking the tight rope between bringing up children, working double shifts to be able to afford health care and schooling for their children, she was a beacon of hope. One 90 year-old actually made it to a meeting the senator was addressing just so she could see how it was for a woman to even dare to dream of becoming President. That woman was born in an era when American women did not even have the right to vote. As the primaries made it very evident, bulk of her supporters were women. When news of Obama’s clinching the nomination came in, television channels showed images of women, young and old, angry, outraged and shocked.
The media is right now conjecturing what her next move would be.Will she use her supporters to pressurize Obama to choose her as his running mate? Should she do that or settle for a place in his cabinet? Or should she just continue to pursue her passions outside of the office? As one senior media person said, she has to now sit down and figure out what she should do for the rest of her life. It is a tough call for anyone to take, but possibly the toughest for Clinton.
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First Published: Thu, Jun 05 2008. 04 06 PM IST