Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Peter Principle and Equal Rights

Condoleeza Rice, like Janet Reno has entered the President's inner circle of advisors. Those of my generation, who watched the civil rights movement reshape our society, are happy to see race and gender drop away as disqualifiers from high office. My grandmother was thirty two years old during the first American election in which women could vote. I can imagine her sense of wonder if she could see a woman making a credible bid for our nation's highest office.
Without fanfare, another threshold in America's political evolution has been reached. Jean Kirkpatrick, Shirely Chisolm and Bella Abzug were all in top form representing their political convictions, and left office in highest esteem, at least of their political base. The men of their generation by contrast faded from public view in nondescript clouds of mediocrity.
The Peter Principle states that everyone rises in a corporate hierarchy to their level of incompetence and then remains there. Members of struggling minorities had to be better than their white colleagues to remain employed.
Condoleeza Rice, in her laughably incoherent attempts at diplomacy and Janet Reno, during Waco as well as after the Crown Heights pogroms display an ineptitude that exemplifies the Peter Principle.
Now all can see that any citizen, regardless of race, creed or national origin can on the grandest scale rise to their level of incompetence.I'm sure our nation's founding fathers are smiling as they see Rice, Reno and the current batch of presidential contenders.
What would our forefathers say about such a sorry spectacle? The spirits of Millard Fillmore,or Warren Harding might even be guiding some of our current leaders.Isn't Millard Fillmore a forefather too? Hillary herself once claimed to be guided by the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt, and other latter day chief executives have reported feeling the spiritual presence of their predecessors.
I can just imagine our great ex-president James Earl Carter sitting alone in the Oval Office with hands clasped in prayerful contemplation asking himself the burning question. "What would Franklin Pierce do"?

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