Republican presidential contenders need to brush up on their American history and the many heroic women who have helped make this country great. At Wednesday’s debate, CNN’s Jake Tapper went down the line, asking the candidates what woman should be depicted on the $10 bill. At that point, most of the candidates looked like deer caught in the headlights. American women of achievement? They couldn’t think of any.
Rand Paul said, “Ooh, that’s a tough one,” but managed to come up with Susan B. Anthony. A good choice. She was a tireless campaigner for women’s equal rights, especially the right to vote. Next Marco Rubio said Rosa Parks, the civil rights icon, and Ted Cruz quickly latched on to that answer.
It was all down hill after that. Ben Carson nominated his mother, a sweet gesture and a chance for him to reiterate his humble upbringing, but it also showed a lack of appreciation or knowledge of what women have done as leaders in this country. Same goes for Mike Huckabee, who proposed his wife.
Then came the worst. Jeb Bush proposed Margaret Thatcher. What? Imagine the Brits printing an American — Dolley Madison or Eleanor Roosevelt — on their pound notes. He couldn’t think of one American woman?
How about Molly Pitcher, the Revolutionary War heroine who brought water to the parched American soldiers at the Battle of Monmouth and then replaced her fallen husband on the battlefield.
If Bush wanted to prove his conservative bona fides at the debate, he could have proposed Ayn Rand, libertarian author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
Or why not Sandra Day O’Connor, first woman justice on the U.S. Supreme Court and a spokesperson for judicial restraint.
Or Amelia Earhart, aviation pioneer who crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific.
Or to appeal to the NRA crowd, why not Annie Oakley, the gifted sharpshooter and star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
Bush wasn’t the only debater to flunk the “great American woman” question. John Kasich said he’d pick Mother Teresa for the $10 bill. Sorry, governor. But if you’re looking for great religious leaders, try Elizabeth Seton, the first American saint of the Roman Catholic Church. Or Jane Addams, whose work on behalf of the needy earned her a Nobel Prize in 1931. Donald Trump came up short on the question too, lamely proposing his daughter Ivanka, for sitting through the three-hour debate. You’d think that Trump, beauty pageant magnate, would have named a beautiful screen legend like Audrey Hepburn, or Marilyn Monroe.
Chris Christie didn’t do much better. He said “Our country wouldn’t be here without John Adams, and he would not have been able to do it without Abigail Adams.” You could say that about almost any First Lady, including Hillary Clinton. News alert, being First Lady doesn’t prove greatness. Clinton wants to be considered a feminist trail blazer, but she’s gotten where she is on her husband’s coattails.
Leave it to the only woman on the stage to point out the shallowness of Tapper’s question. Putting a woman on the $10 bill is “a gesture,” said Carly Fiorina. “Women are not a special interest group. Women are the majority of this nation. We are half the potential of this nation.”
Based on her performance Wednesday night, Fiorina’s face may some day make it onto our paper money as the first woman president of the United States.
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