Being embraced by the Hero of Chappaquiddick might not be the sort of endorsement an aspiring leader would want. But then, as I watch the cameras pan the Senate at last night’s repeat of every other Bush State of the Union speech, I get a queasy feeling as I see the good oleboyssenate.jpg boys anoint yet another newbe into the male power bull-ring.

Yes that is old Washington deal-maker Teddy Kennedy cozying-up playfully with Obama, a contender without an agenda, a strategic tabula rasa — perfect for manipulation by the rank and file. Of course Teddy — “not-JFK” — Kennedy would not want a person with defined qualifications, clear and proven leadership abilities, a brilliant steel-trap mind. Especially if that person was a woman.

But wait? I thought the Obama people kept shouting about how their candidate wanted a change from the Washington establishment? Hmm, guess they meant some other Washington.

I look at the Senate and I’m seeing not one iota of movement from the pre-feminist era of women in their place, and that place being the kitchen/bedroom. I still see men holding the conversation about six inches above the heads of the gals. And I still notice that no one will point out that the new Illinois/Kenyan emperor has no clothes. (Actually, that’s not true – he dresses quite well. But you know what I’m getting at.)

Obama is a social construction of the white culture in which he was raised. And he himself is a social savant, to be sure. He can work a room, and more power to him. But (in my opinion) it’s a classic case of all style, no substance. And because of his African Americanism, no one points that out without fear of being called a racist.

Can you imagine that the pundits would have ripped and shredded W’s second grade vocabulary if he had been a Latino? Would his inappropriate smirks and intellectual deficits have become fodder for talk shows and policy institute debate if he had been black? No way Jose. Just so Obama’s shortcomings are off limits among the politically-correct cognoscenti.

We’re still no further toward assessing others by the “content of their character” than in that fateful year in which MLK Jr. died. Is Obama being tapped by the old boy power network because he happens to be a darker shade of pale? Not entirely. It’s because he is male. Male and malleable.

Marcia Pappas, head of the New York chapter of NOW spoke for me and many others when she noted the hypocrisy of Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama. The Boys Club endorsing another one of its own, and passing up the opportunity to promote a much more qualified Democrat who happens to be – gasp! – a woman.

As Pappas put it, Kennedy has “joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton.” Naturally these same white men like to add that they would support a woman for president – just not this particular one. The willingness to bypass a seasoned politician – who everybody agrees could step into the role of President in the next twenty minutes — someone who can lead, make tough decisions and come up with specific programs — this is the person Kennedy overlooked, in order to tap another male candidate.

Look at that AP photo again. Let it sink in.

The sound you hear is the glass ceiling thickening up. Time to get serious, sisters. Time to take off the gloves and rally your friends, neighbors and colleagues! If you don’t ask for respect now, with such a qualified candidate almost at the White House door, then you might have to wait another eternity. Personally, I don’t have that kind of time.