Barbie: The perfect woman president

Posted: Tuesday, May 02, 2000

Like all good political consultants, we begin today by looking at the candidate's background. Our Favorite Daughter may not look 35, old enough to fulfill the constitutional requirement for president of the United States, but she was born in 1959.

She's been with the same guy for as long as anyone can remember. He seems like a decent chap who could check his ego at the White House gate and never, ever, do Viagra ads.

She has no teen-age children to get into trouble. A definite plus.

Now let's look at the candidate's resume. It's nothing if not versatile. Yes, her first job was as a model, but it was the early '60s and women's opportunities were limited. Call it a youthful indiscretion. Since then she's been an astronaut, an airline pilot, a surgeon, a professional basketball player.

She managed to do it all without alienating the more traditional constituents. In fact she is their darling. She spans the world of manicures and wardrobes to bumper stickers and political platforms.

She is also, it should be mentioned, a helluva fund-raiser. It's money that greases the skids of politics and this little gal brings in $1.3 billion a year. That buys a whole lot of media time.

If that doesn't get the political juices running, try this: Here's a candidate who is truly a household name. I mean, the woman has name recognition that other politicians would kill for!

Now add it all together and it appears that we have at long last, come up with a viable female candidate for president of the United States. In a year that seems so devoid of excitement, a year in which the last woman folded in New Hampshire, we have a chance to invest in the next best hope of the new millennium. May I introduce - ta da:

Barbie For President!!!!

This brand-new doll of a candidate has just hit the toy stores equipped with a blue suit, pearl earrings and a fairly heavy agenda. Her mission is to get little girls to start playing politics.

One of her promoters was Marie Wilson, the very same woman who founded Take Our Daughters to Work Day and is the guiding force behind The White House Project, which is trying to get a slightly taller woman into the Oval Office.

Some time ago, Wilson was in Los Angeles, home of the pink Mattel kingdom that has made a mint off this little doll. While she was trying to raise money for The White House Project, ``I said you really ought to make a President Barbie and turn that dream house into a White House so they'll have something to dream about.''

Of course, Mattel had floated a Barbie earlier in the presidential sweepstakes. But back in the 1980s, she was outfitted with a very short red, white and blue tulle skirt. Is it any wonder that nobody took her seriously?

Today's candidate arrives with a red dress for the inaugural ball and color-coordinated posters. Her packaging includes a campaign speech that could frankly use a little work - too bad Peggy Noonan is preoccupied with trashing Hillary. She also has an agenda from The White House Project and a copy of the Girls' Bill of Rights from Girls Inc.

Of course, Barbie does come with some, uh, negatives. She has been criticized over the years for being anatomically incorrect (see Millennium Princess Barbie) and a role model of consumerism (see Happenin' Hair Barbie). She's been the gal who taught girls you can do it all as long as you dress for it.

Even our candidate is expected to run in those high heels. ``We asked to get her flats so she could run on her own two feet,'' sighs Wilson, ``But they didn't go for that.''

Nevertheless, Barbie's new job is to get girls thinking about political leadership. The energetic Wilson, a mother of five, worries about the ``pipeline'' problem. Women are going into other professions far faster than politics. Only 20 percent of elected offices are held by women.

``You have to start where people are,'' she says, ``You have to go to pop culture, TV toys, computer games. This is the toy girls touch the most.'' If you go back to basics, nothing gets more basic than Barbie.

Let us recall the name recognition. The average American girl has eight Barbies. In the toy game, everyone knows that Barbie rules.

Barbie rules? Now there's a Presidential Platform to stand on. Though preferably not in high heels.

Ellen Goodman is a columnist for the Boston Globe.



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