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The idea of a woman as President of the U.S. is appalling to many. I suspect that, often as not, those who say, “I am not opposed to a woman President. Just not this one” are really ignoring—or unwilling to acknowledge—their antipathy to the very idea of a woman in the highest office of the land. This attitude is usually held by men “of a certain age,” but, sadly, some women (brainwashed by such men?) also hold the view that a woman is incapable of performing the tasks of the highest office of our land.

They fail to recognize that women have, in fact, already performed some of those tasks—and in America yet! Edith Wilson was probably much more than merely her husband’s mouthpiece after he suffered a debilitating stroke. Nancy Reagan, who was invariably at her husband’s side during public appearances in the last years of his Presidency, showed a remarkable understanding of issues that must have been discussed previously in the oval office or the White House situation room. Eleanor Roosevelt was so outspoken about public affairs after her husband’s death that it is hard to see her as merely a “stand-in” for her crippled spouse at public events during his Presidency.

In recent decades, we have seen women perform ably as the chief executives of other countries: Golda Meier in Israel, Indira Gandhi in India, Benazir Bhutto next door in Pakistan, Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain, Angela Merkel in Germany. But not in the United States, though women in Congress have shown remarkable understanding and insights to issues affecting the body politic, not to mention those who have served as governors.

Moreover, earlier history also gives us examples of women leaders who commanded tremendous power. Think Cleopatra of Egypt, Elizabeth I of England, Christina of Sweden, Catherine the Great of Russia, for starters.

If you oppose a particular individual because of his or her policies and/or previous performance, fine. But gender should not be a factor in choosing public servants.