ANNE TAYLOR FLEMING: She is running, isn't she? We women ask each other as we watch Hillary in action. She has put her head down in the Senate. The marriage, however wounded or complex, endures.
She is a force, then as now, hampered since the days of her hair bands and healthcare debacle. We watch her intently, looking for the sharp elbows of ambition poking out of her tailored suit jacket -- the compromises -- as she, taking a page from her husband's book, seems to be making: Strong support for the war; a cosponsor of a bill to criminalize flag burning.
Is this really Hillary Clinton? Is this what she will be like, our first woman president?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: I Condoleezza Rice do solemnly swear --
ANNE TAYLOR FLEMING: Then there is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She certainly has the stature that implies the possibility of a run also.
Though she constantly insists that she is not a candidate, she coyly acknowledges being flattered by all the interest shown by others in her running.
Adamantly coiffed and an adamant defender of the administration she serves, she too has made complicated choices, parsing those definitions of torture with a tortured linguistic deftness.
It is so much easier in television land where our new pretend commander in chief, Gina Davis, is a hit and a wonderment. Oh she threads those ethical needles with high-mindedness and bright red lips.
She commutes the death sentence of a mentally retarded woman. She refuses to oppose base closings on her home turf. Go for it, girl, you find yourself cheering through every episode, knowing she will follow her smart heart and not get soiled and spoiled by politics.
That's not the real world, alas, and we women now that we are rising to the top know that.
GERALDINE FERRARO: I proudly accept your nomination for vice president of the United States.
ANNE TAYLOR FLEMING: Gone are the good old goose bump days when the first of us were being let into the big arena. I was in the convention hall when Geraldine Ferarro was nominated for vice president. I was in the stands in Cape Canaveral the day that Sallie Ride was blasted into space.
I can still feel the temperament of both moments, a giddy gender pride that knocked me and the women around me into a moment of sweet exhilaration. We were on our way, up those ladders into those skies.
Implicit in that pride was the hope that we would hold our own, be brave and kind and true, unsullied by the demands of success and power. We weren't that naive. We knew it would be tough, and that we would learn to be just as tough. And yes, clever as we had to be. We knew that. And yet we held out for something a little more. Better, cleaner, for ourselves and from ourselves.
Now here we are, facing finally and for the first time the possibility of a female president -- at least of a female candidate -- maybe even two-- two competent, compromising and some would say about one or both compromised women.
So along with the sense of anticipation, the gender excitement that still comes at the thought of a woman president there is already an accompanying sense of ruthfulness and disappointment.
I'm Anne Taylor Fleming.