Here's the thing: when I started teaching, I told students that I was going to use only male pronouns for presidents. For everyone else, voters, reporters, politicians at other levels, I either use "he or she" formulations or I alternate genders. I do the same here. But I always, frankly, felt silly referring to an abstract president as "his or her." However, I told students that I'd switch at the point that a woman put in a serious run for a major party nomination. And, at first, I carried through with that beginning in mid-2007, if I recall correctly.
Regular readers will note that I haven't done that here, however. I'm not sure exactly why. Obviously, we have now had a woman come very, very close to the presidency. Just as obviously, she's not going to be the last one; in fact, as I said earlier today, it's by no means implausible that a woman will be elected president in 2012 (very unlikely in my opinion to be sure, but not implausible). So I sort of think that I'm doing it wrong. On the other hand, I'm not comfortable with referring to actual historical presidents as "he or she." But abstract presidents...I'm not sure, but I think I'm wrong, and I should switch. Readers: any thoughts?