Vice President Kathleen Sebelius? What's the Matter With Kansas?

What's the matter with Kansas? Try not to insult its governor in order to bolster Hillary.

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I've been bugged by the stern warnings that Barack Obama selecting a female running mate not named Hillary Clinton (think Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius) would be an unforgivable insult to the hordes of Hill-ions still smarting from her primary defeat. I couldn't put my finger on why, but now I have: Isn't it insulting to women in general and Sebelius in particular to suggest that her defining political characteristic is being a woman? And should the women's movement be subsumed to one woman's movement?

This is not to say that Sebelius's gender is irrelevant if she is in fact the (apparently long shot...or maybe not) nominee. But it's not her sole politically attractive quality: She is a governor, she comes from a state that has gone Republican on the national level, and she has a reputation for working across the aisle. The first quality would bolster the ticket's executive cred, while the latter two would reinforce its message of post-partisanship.

But Clinton supporters have warned that a woman other than Hillary would be an insult. I ask again: Isn't it insulting to define Sebelius solely as a woman? As if her selection would be mere affirmative action rather than a key role well earned by a skilled pol.

And if one wants to focus on gender, isn't the goal for a woman to reach the White House (even if in the constitutional on-deck circle)? Surely Hillary Clinton does not alone embody the women's movement. Surely other qualified female politicians won't have to wait their turn behind her after having to wait their turn behind the other gender.

One other question: Shouldn't it be reactionary troglodytes who make these mistakes?