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I've often wondered why there are only two qualifications mentioned in the Constitution which determine eligibility to serve as President of the United States. First, the candidate must be a natural born citizen. This eliminates any foreign Commie whackos, of course, who might sway our foreign policy in favor of borscht instead of turkey for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, it also eliminates people like Henry Kissinger. Secondly, a candidate must have attained the auspicious age of 35 years. I wonder who helped ascertain the validity of that lifestage. Since most developmentalists agree that adolescence in America can extend even beyond age 25, we could conceivably elect a president who barely understands the difference between Clearasil and codicil.

Ever since Elizabeth Dole acknowledged the reluctance of her supporters to put their money where her mouth is, I have been appalled at the lackluster spectrum of would-be candidates. True, all are natural born citizens, and most appear to have reached the age of 35, as long as we calculate by strictly chronological criteria. I worry, however, about men like George W., who seem to think that it's okay to be inappropriate as long as you don't answer questions about it. And what kind of leader will he be if he couldn't convince his wife to say, "Sorry, that night isn't good for me because my husband is running for President?" It seems like a fairly credible excuse, even to Republicans.

As baby boomers, we have an obligation to represent the positive qualities of our generation in public service. Whatever we inhaled thirty-odd years ago is no longer relevant to our ability to lead. And those who've taken the long-acting version are probably closer to Pluto than politics. We've had enough public servants who wear jeans, eat fast food, and acknowledge that women are people too. We know how to grandstand for the icons of our age group. Now, we need a baby boomer who can restore the intensity, the morality, and the ingenuousness of our generation.

If only I wore a hat, I'd consider throwing into the ring. After all, I seem to have many of the requisite qualities for political office.

Like most in our cohort, I believe in the integrity of Social Security, the necessity of comprehensive health care, and the eradication of racism and ethnic or lifestyle prejudice. I adamantly endorse the importance of universally affordable and accessible education. And, just like many other qualified candidates who address these critical issues, I have absolutely no clue about viable solutions.

When I compare my fiscal acumen to the abilities of those who have guarded our coffers in the past, I sparkle by comparison. For the past three decades, I have managed to live unscathed by a painfully inadequate budget, spending money with abandon while indignantly defying those who occasionally inform me that I have ventured beyond my means. Although other candidates insist on naming ideals and values as the foundations of their political platforms, I know that pecuniary perspicacity is, after all, the most important quality of leadership. From an early age, I was tutored by my mother who relentlessly intoned, "It's just as easy to fall in love with a rich man..." Dismissing her advice as material and callous, I adopted the proactive and life-affirming philosophy that supports my fiscal policy. "How can I be broke?," I wonder. "There are still some checks left."

Recent events have taught us that 26 years of marriage cannot guarantee propriety, so I'll have to assert my virtue in more pragmatic terms. I have no desire to appear in public or in private attired in silk thong underwear, and I feel certain that my proctologist would counterindicate such fashion. As for quickies under the desk, any such escapade would require the jaws of life to extricate me and an orthopedic surgeon to rejuvenate my spine. Most important, the last interns who inspected private parts of my body were medical students in the teaching hospital where my oldest son was born.

I have enough integrity to qualify me for the job, and just a touch of ignominy to make me real. When I was in seventh grade, certainly old enough to know better, I was part of the Great Orthography Scandal at Kingsbury Elementary School. I have always been hard-wired for perfect spelling, a trait not shared by my dear friend Delle. When she asked me how to spell a word in the middle of a test, I responded. Mrs. Kipp landed her evil eye on our furtive conversation, and we were publicly humiliated. Today, parents would probably file a lawsuit for child abuse, but we were simply banished to opposite sides of the classroom and never trusted until selective colleges acknowledged our talents.

And who among us could forget the Eagleton debacle, when a perfectly viable candidate was deposed for having seen a therapist? Things have changed. I hope people realize that today it is the stronger people who dare to confront themselves in therapy. As for medication, I would definitely support a bill to add Prozac to our water supply. It is terrifically sad that we have poisoned the environment, but we don't have to remain depressed about it!

It certainly is time for a woman to assume our highest office. I deplore the chador, champion equality at home and in the workplace, and know exactly where to put a drop of perfume so that its fragrance will pulsate for hours. Although I might actively sabotage the manufacture of spike heels and underwire bras, I can attest to gender purity, having given birth to four children with no hormonal assistance or transgender surgery. When John Kennedy was running for office, people worried that a Catholic president would kowtow to the papacy. Why not a woman, then? Those of us who have endorsed the battle for equal rights bow to no one. Not enough testosterone, you wonder, to confront the critical issues? Rest easy. Only the services of a trained hypertrichologist have saved most midlife women from looking like Yasser Arafat.

With qualifications like these, surely few would deny that I would be an incredible chief executive. I'm afraid, then, that I'll have to disqualify myself. Life is far too interesting to live under the scrutiny of pundits and propagandists. X and Y interest me even less as generations than they did as graphic coordinates, and the only thing I'd like to command in chief is the interest of my friends and family. I hope that some energetic candidates enter the race soon, but for now, I must demur. In the famous last words of many a great pair of pantyhose, I guarantee not to run.

Written by Marcia Brown Rubinstien
December 6, 1999

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