January 20, 2004 11:00 pm
Bill Rautenstrauch ().
Bill Rautenstrauch ().

Adams Ave. and Beyond

by Bill Rautenstrauch

Ask the average Joe or Jane on the street how many women ran for president this election year, and they'll tell you one — Carol Moseley Braun, the esteemed Democrat from Illinois.

How wrong that answer is.

Actually, 10 lady Demos and three from the GOP either filed or formed exploratory committees for the 2004 election.

That's not even counting numerous third-party and independent women candidates with the chutzpah to try out for job.

Braun, who withdrew from the race recently, got a ton of ink and TV time, so most people know her name. The other women who tried out weren't nearly as lucky.

They are unforgettable, but only because you can't forget someone you never knew about in the first place.

And that's a shame. Because once more, the name of Mildred "Millie" Howard won't become a household word. Once more, it'll be lost to history.

Once again, the nation will be deprived of the leadership of a lady with the guts of Harry S. Truman, the heart of Teddy Roosevelt and the brain of Thomas Jefferson.

It will be deprived, and won't even know it.

I wish this wasn't the case. I don't think it should be. This Ohio Republican is enough to fire anybody's imagination. She's enough to capture anybody's heart.

She's got bulldog tenacity, in spades. Sixty-six years old, she's run for president three other times — in 1992, 1996, and 2000.

She's gives her occupation, believe it or not, as a medical office receptionist. Back in 2000, three years before she earned a bachelor's degree in finance from Northern Kentucky University, she wrote that she had never had a job paying more than $26,000 a year.

That makes her a populist. More than anything, this country needs a true, genuine, bona fide populist.

Like many politicians, Howard says government should be much smaller than what it is.

But unlike so many, she stands behind her words. She's got a definite, right-now plan to end government entitlements, be they welfare, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, whatever.

Those entitlements, she says, are the bane of our existence. She says the way to get rid of them — and get government off our backs, for good — is a birth right stipend of $10,000, given annually to everybody.

Coupled with wages and a mandatory, $2.50 per hour benefit package for workers, that stipend would make every citizen, even those making a $5 per hour minimum wage, well off enough to set up their own savings accounts for health care, retirement and unemployment.

I don't know if it would work, but I like the idea. It's different from any solution ever posed by the rich guys, and besides, I could really use an extra ten grand a year. So could my wife.

With the 2004 Iowa caucuses done, the field of presidential candidates comes into ever-sharper focus.

It includes no females. With Braun out of the picture, the office of the president of the United States is safe from womanhood once more.

It won't always be that way, of course. Someday, a lady will run and win. It's bound to happen, given the growing number of them willing to try.

So I'm not giving up on Millie Howard. I hope she runs again in 2008. I hope she keeps running till she wins.

I'd vote for her in a heartbeat, just because she knows what it's like to be the little guy.

Bill Rautenstrauch is The Observer's business editor