The good news about Wednesday night’s CNN Republican debate is that they reused a question from the Miss America pageant, so I can reuse the main points of a response I wrote when this question was being asked of beauty queens!
This is also the bad news.
The other bad news is that the answers from the candidates for president were … not markedly better than that from Miss Colorado.
The question was: Who belongs on the new $10 bill?
Here is what I said to the beauty queen, slightly updated:
“Your face should be on the $10 bill” is not a compliment when addressed to a living person. It is a threat. …
The Treasury has few criteria for the woman lucky enough to be sharing the 10 with Alexander Hamilton. One is that she be “a champion of our inclusive democracy“… and the other is that she be dead.
es Miss Colorado Mike Huckabee (who wanted his wife on the bill) and Donald Trump (who suggested his daughter, Ivanka, before opting for Rosa Parks) realize the implications of her their suggestions?
The other candidates at least did not offer living contenders for the currency. Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) suggested Susan B. Anthony, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie went with Abigail “Remember The Ladies” Adams, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) advocated Rosa Parks and Scott Walker recommended Clara Barton. Ben Carson suggested his own mother.
Then it got baffling.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich recommended Mother Teresa (she’s en route to actual sainthood; she scarcely needs to show up on our legal tender) and then Jeb(!) Bush blew everyone else’s more dubious suggestions out of the water by arguing for … Margaret Thatcher.
Yes, it turns out that it is possible to come up with a worse answer for “Who Belongs on the Ten” than “Mike Huckabee’s Wife.” The Iron Lady, Jeb? Really? What constituency were you seeking to reach with this suggestion? That coveted British expatriate vote? Aren’t American women good enough for you? “This lady’s not for minting.”
Carly Fiorina said the bill shouldn’t be changed at all, which is certainly one approach and would have the advantage of preserving Alexander Hamilton on the $10.
Of the candidates, only Ted Cruz gave the correct answer: change the $20, not the $10. Lose Andrew Jackson, keep Hamilton. (And, for the $20, he suggested Rosa Park, a strong candidate.)
Amen, Ted Cruz. Well said. You have my vote for — er, whatever this portion of the debate determines. Mr. Congeniality?
I already used up most of my dudgeon on Miss Colorado’s answer, but here, for the record, is what I wrote then:
Once more, with feeling: Alexander Hamilton should not have to share the bill with a woman.
And, more pressingly, a woman should not have to share the bill with Alexander Hamilton. I’ve written on this before. I will write on it again. I will write and write on it until I look like a million bucks, all green and wrinkled.
After all that women have been through in order to claw our way onto some paper currency (and just as paper currency seems to be on its way out. How typical!) , the least we deserve is a Room of Our Own. Why does the woman have to share? Let Hamilton keep the $10 bill to himself. The “$10 founding father without a father” deserves it, and more.
Is there a shortage of space? If so, we should give Andrew Jackson a taste of his own medicine by shoving him off the twenty he has so comfortably occupied for so many generations and making him find accommodations elsewhere. (Sorry, Andrew. It’s not you: It’s Manifest Destiny. Also, it’s you.) Also, how is there a shortage of space on our print money? Did rents go up or something?
Sharing a bill with Alex … will be somewhat uncomfortable. Hamilton was an incorrigible skirt-chaser; Abigail Adams wrote that “I have read his heart in his wicked eyes. The very devil is in them. They are lasciviousness itself.” (It would serve everyone just right if she wound up on the bill with him, arms disapprovingly folded.) Martha Washington named a tomcat after him. This is just one more reason he ought to have the ten to himself and not subject a historically significant advocate of our “inclusive democracy” to the currency figurehead equivalent of workplace harassment.
But it all comes back to one all-important point. Change should start with the twenty, not the ten.
Thank you, debate, for making my job easier!
In the course of the CNN debate the candidates also argued about such substantive issues as who was pretty (“I think she’s got a beautiful face and I think she’s a beautiful woman” — Trump, on Fiorina) who was ugly (“I never attacked him or his looks, and believe me, there’s plenty of subject matter right there” — Trump, on Rand Paul) who loved his wife the most (everyone) and what nicknames everyone would like (see here for more.)
If I had only written more about Miss America at the time, I would have had all my work done.
But I thought, “No, why devote so many words to a contest so fundamentally shallow?”
I was naive.