Is America ready for a female president? Is America ready for a black president? These questions are at the fore on cable news.

Here’s the deal. I’m ready for a female, a black female, white female, red, yellow, blue, green, or aubergine female, and I’m ready for a black male, a red, yellow, blue, green, or aubergine male. I’m also ready for a gay or lesbian president and I care not a whit about his or her color or hue. In other words, I am not merely eager; I’m enthusiastically fervent, even rabid, for change. I want leadership. And representation.

What I refuse to sanction is business as usual. I do not want a war president, regardless of his or her color or sexual preference. Nor do I want a closeted gay or lesbian president who, like the Reverend Ted Haggard, bashes gays and lesbians but engages in gay sex. I want someone with integrity and compassion. If our president has these qualities, we will have peace.

Also, I’d like a president who listens to the advice of others and values negotiation. Therefore, a George Bush, pig-headed clone is unacceptable. The combination of tough and obtuse is a recipe that’s stayed the course far too long.

I don’t want a president who can’t group together nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections in an intelligent arrangement to form a sentence or paragraph unless he or she is scripted. But if the choice is between two candidates and one is honorable, thoughtful, and concerned with our children’s future and is less than articulate, I’ll choose him or her over the opponent who lacks empathy for others even if that opponent’s mastery of the English language is above the level of expert. Surely, though, there must be competent, well-spoken presidential wannabes who are compassionate. And not compassionate conservatives. That little tease turns out to contain two mutually exclusive words when ultra is inserted in front of the one meaning uptight traditionalists.

Now, let’s address “the presidential look.” That this is a factor is beyond absurd. Give me a bald and overweight, yet, inquisitive, intelligent, and decent president any day over a bike-riding, physically-fit, word-mangling, language-challenged, incurious moron.

So, all this settled, who is out there to toss his or her life into the fray of “swiftboating” and scrutiny? Who wants to put his or her wife, husband, significant other, or life partner through the minefield of campaign detonations?

Please, step forward if you know you meet the standards of true leadership.

There are plenty of us who will buttress you and your loved ones by putting ourselves between you and the mudslingers. Please.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com



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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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