Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Madeline Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton: American Secretaries of State

Astonishing: three presidents, three women named to manage our relationships to the nations of the world. One had experienced the family life of a refugee, one had grown up in one of the most repressive racially controlled southern cities in our nation, one had managed one of the most disruptive marital episode of any presidency in our history.

I had been thinking about this the evening before our Friday Morning Book Study Group at the church. That morning I had brought the Harvard philosopher’s book on Justice – I referred to Dr. Sandel in a previous blog, you may remember. There were four women in our group, including my wife. The discussion was involved, brisk. As I read selected passages the focus quickly became on the two classical philosophical positions represented by the Democratic and Republican conventions. I thought to myself that I would not have heard a more insightful and penetrating discussion in any of the graduate seminars I ever attended. There were, however, missing participants that day. One had been more or less on leave for a couple of years.

She is a woman with a consuming passion. She owns property north of here and her focus is on that. Our part of Indiana is largely deforested farmland. Her goal is to plant 10,000 native hardwood trees. 

In a similar vein, on Sunday I was reading an interview with retired Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Lisa Rice. She was the first woman graduating from her law school. After passing her state licensing examination, she discovered she would not get a job as a lawyer with any law firm. Now, much later, she retired early from the Supreme Court in order to give full time care to an elderly progressively ill husband with Alzheimer’s. 

The United States is an interesting place; it has great gifts to give to the world – as well as its “oh, my gosh(es)!” and “ugh…good grief.” As I think of all that I have seen and heard and wondered about, however, I think its most remarkable gift is The American Woman.

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