Sunday, June 03, 2007

UI Held Hostage Day 498 - Barbara Richardson & Friend

June 3, 2007, 8:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m.

Governor Bill Richardson and the Natural Superiority of Women

It's not the data, it's just my sense, that men have a greater propensity to arrogance than women. At least I've not often seen a lot of women getting drunk and staggering down the street shouting, "We're Number One! We're Number One!" Not only do we behave as if we are superior to all the other animals, men have for centuries deluded themselves into believing they are superior to women as well.

Both arrogant assumptions are wrong.

The natural superiority of squirrels.I purchased another bird feeder the day before yesterday. One of my favorites has once again come under squirrel attack. It sits on a pole, cannot be assaulted from below, and is located sufficiently far from any tree limbs that for a year or so it was free from attack. We've yet to figure out how a squirrel can get into it, but a new squirrel in our neighborhood has now been spotted in it a couple of times.

[Cartoon credit ("Outwit squirrels getting to bird feeders"): Wiley Miller, "Non Sequitur," May 20, 2015.]

The conclusions one must draw from the decades-long conflict between squirrels on the one hand, and those of us who like to feed wild birds on the other, are not flattering to our species. With our self-proclaimed intellectual superiority, all the resources of our scientific and engineering geniuses, our industrial and military power and might, "Yankee ingenuity," and a range of materials and tools unknown to prior generations, the results of our war on squirrels really does make our prospects for victory in Iraq look like a "slam dunk" by comparison.

Much as we may squirm to avoid admitting it, an honest evaluation of the data compels the conclusion that squirrels do, in fact, have a superior intelligence to humans. They also have more patience and determination. More willingness to work at, and stick with, problem solving. More commitment to scientific experimentation. And, not incidentally, an athletic prowess -- not to mention courage -- that puts our Olympic athletes to shame by comparison.

As the clerk put it to me with commendable candor when I asked about a squirrel-proof bird feeder, "Look, mister, there ain't no squirrel-proof bird feeders. There are just squirrel-resistant bird feeders."

So I now have a squirrel-resistant bird feeder. And at least for the first 24 hours I haven't seen any evidence that squirrels have already figured it out. But I see them looking at it, and drawing diagrams in the dirt underneath it, and I while I don't know what they're thinking I do know what they're thinking about.

The natural superiority of women. While I have always had great respect for the major contributions of the women I have known -- contributions to our society in general as well as our families -- it was only about 15 years ago that I came to an insight I've characterized as "the natural superiority of women."

Not only has this insight helped me to understand what's going on in the world around me, it has also been a profound stress reducer. No longer am I responsible for solving all the world's problems. No longer do I have to make all the big decisions. I just leave it to the women, secure in the confidence they'll probably do a better job of it than I would anyway.

So what I did at Governor Bill Richardson's reception prior to the five candidates' speeches to Iowa's Democrats in Cedar Rapids last evening will not surprise you. After visiting with the Governor briefly, and taking some of the pictures I'll link to momentarily, I left him to the crowds hanging on his every word and spent much of my time visiting with his wife, Barbara.

I commented that it has often been my experience that the wives of presidents, or presidential candidates, are individuals of great qualities and strengths which often includes a superiority to their husbands. Given the challenges of being the spouse of an office holder or candidate it requires a superior person.

In Barbara Richardson's case she's been a leader in significant accomplishments with regard to -- among a great many other things -- domestic violence projects, an immunization program that produced remarkable improvements in a state (New Mexico) that had been last in the nation, and a successful literacy program (also a challenge in New Mexico). (It's not irrelevant to note that she mentioned none of this to me; I've picked it up elsewhere.)

Barbara Flavin Richardson graduated magna cum laude from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, and married her high school classmate, Bill Richardson, in 1972. They've held that marriage together for 35 years -- itself a significant accomplishment given the lives they've both led.

In fact, her college magazine reported in 2005,

Just before Bill Richardson was sworn in as governor in 2003, a reporter asked her about media reports speculating that the governor would run for president in 2008.

"I'll tell you what I tell him," she said. "'That's another life and another wife.' Honest to God. Not my bag. It's just not something that I even want to contemplate."
Jayne M. Iafrate, "The Power of One," Wheaton Quarterly, Winter 2005.

(That was essentially what my first wife, now deceased, told me when I was asked to be a third party candidate for president, and later became a candidate in a congressional primary. But in our case, by the time of the congressional primary we were divorced and, unlike Barbara, she was not campaigning with me. Although in fairness I should note that, notwithstanding her view of the matter and the divorce, she did offer to come to Iowa to campaign for me if the divorce ever became an issue. It did not.)

No politician's wife can be expected to have enthusiasm for any campaign, let alone a presidential campaign. But, given that, Barbara Richardson has clearly decided not only to "contemplate" her husband's race, she is still married to him and participating in the campaign.

She's bright, charming, down-to-earth, relaxed, with an infectious smile and sense of humor -- a real asset to Bill Richardson, as governor, as a presidential candidate, or as America's First Lady.

(If you're interested in more, besides the Wheaton Quarterly story, linked above, you might want to look at her New Mexico First Lady Web page, her page on the Governor's presidential campaign site, or her Wikipedia entry.)

Oh, yeah, and that guy she was with is not too shabby either. I think past experience counts -- and that, while there are many senators whom I admire, the U.S. Senate doesn't provide much of a test of one's abilities as a responsible administrator of a large enterprise. Being a governor is about as close as we get. (On the other hand, one should note that George Bush senior had a resume approaching that of Bill Richardson, and George Bush junior had experience as governor of a larger state than New Mexico. So it's not a rule with no exceptions.)

Nor are Governor Richardson's resume entries -- which seemingly go on forever -- all the result of a series of short term hop-skip-and-jumps from one job to another. He served in the U.S. Congress for 14 years, and as New Mexico's governor since 2003 -- to which he was re-elected with an unprecedented 60+ percent. (I can't find the exact percentage at the moment.) There are dozens of other jobs and experiences that he's had that are relevant to the presidency. I don't have time or space to relate all of them here, nor is there a need to. If you're seriously evaluating the field of candidates you ought to read them for yourself. There's no shortage of material about him on the Internet, but you can always start with his Wikipedia entry and his campaign Web page, "Bill Richardson for President."

Governor Richardson's moving up.

More and more Iowans are coming to realize (in part, as a result of his commercials) that in terms of relevant experience he is head and shoulders above the rest of the pack.

After starting late compared to the three poll leaders (in Iowa) Edwards, Obama and Clinton, his first quarter fund raising put him at fourth (or fifth) largest nationally, and he's already moved from what he characterizes with a smile as "within the margin of error" to a solid 10% in the Iowa Poll. Jonathan Roos, "Democrats Prefer Edwards in New Poll," Des Moines Register, May 19, 2007.

His humorous, somewhat self-deprecating TV commercials have been characterized by George Stephanopoulos (and most Iowans I know) as the best so far this year (a judgment shared by those present last evening).

David Broder, dean of the political pack, has written, "The liveliest pair of candidates in the large fields of Democratic and Republican long shots, Bill Richardson and Mike Huckabee, are also -- not coincidentally -- the likeliest to break through into the top ranks of their parties if anyone ever does." David S. Broder, "Two Long Shots Liven Up a Race," The Washington Post, May 24, 2007, Page A31.
A lot can happen between June 2007 and January 2008 (when the Iowa caucuses take place) -- just ask the Republican candidates now looking at the entry of Fred Thompson. And the higher Richardson rises in the polls the greater will be the desire of the media, and his opponents, to find any scrap of scandal they can uncover.

Candidates will go up and down in the polls. Anyone can stumble with an answer to a reporter's question, or in one of the debates. No one can predict what may be dragged up from out of these candidates' pasts that may radically change their standing -- whether legitimately or not. Nor can we predict the news (such as this morning's report of the foiled plot to blow up the JFK Airport and a goodly portion of New York along with it), and how it, and the candidates' response to it, will affect them. Candidates may drop out. Others may enter.

But, for now, Barbara Richardson and her tag-along are going to be worth keeping an eye on.

Oh, and here are the pictures from last evening.

UICCU and "Optiva"

The UICCU-Optiva story is essentially behind us. There may be occasional additions "for the record," but for the most part the last major entry, with links to the prior material from October 2006 through March 2007, is "UICCU and 'Optiva'" in Nicholas Johnson, "UI Held Hostage Day 406 - March 3 - Optiva," March 3, 2007. Since then there have been two major additions: Nicholas Johnson, "Open Letter to UICCU Board" in "UI Held Hostage Day 423 - March 20 - UICCU," March 20, 2007, and "'Open Letter': Confirmation from World Council of Credit Unions" in "UI Held Hostage Day 424 - March 21 UICCU," March 21, 2007.

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[Note: If you're new to this blog, and interested in the whole UI President Search story . . .

These blog entries begin with Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search I," November 18, 2006.

Wondering where the "UI Held Hostage" came from? Click here. (As of January 25 the count has run from January 21, 2006, rather than last November.)

For any given entry, links to the prior 10 will be found in the left-most column. Going directly to will take you to the latest. Each contains links to the full text of virtually all known media stories and commentary, including mine, since the last blog entry. Together they represent what The Chronicle of Higher Education has called "one of the most comprehensive analyses of the controversy." The last time there was an entry containing the summary of prior entries' commentary (with the heading "This Blog's Focus on Regents' Presidential Search") is Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search XIII -- Last Week," December 11, 2006.

My early proposed solution to the conflict is provided in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search VII: The Answer," November 26, 2006.

Searching: the fullest collection of basic documents related to the search is contained in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search - Dec. 21-25," December 21, 2006 (and updated thereafter), at the bottom of that blog entry under "References." A Blog Index of entries on all subjects since June 2006 is also available. And note that if you know (or can guess at) a word to search on, the "Blogger" bar near the top of your browser has a blank, followed by "SEARCH THIS BLOG," that enables you to search all entries in this Blog since June 2006.]

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Media Stories and Commentary

See above.

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