Sunday, November 30, 2008

What Michelle Means to Us

Last week’s Newsweek cover story is “What Michelle Means to Us,” and I was more than a little excited to read it. Swiping the magazine from a waiting table, I hunkered down expecting a hard-hitting article about the First Lady-Elect, what I got was so much more. Allison Samuels wrote an in-depth, deeply personal analysis of the striking beauty of Mrs. Obama and all that she will bring to the proverbial table as our First Lady come January 20, 2009. Her husband is not the only figure entering the White House next month bearing the weight of the hopes and dreams of a generation.

The idea of Michelle Obama evokes murmurs of a resurrected Camelot at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She calls herself “First Mom” and is putting not only her own family first but, rumor has it, will be putting the families of our brave men and women overseas serving in Afghanistan and Iraq at the forefront of her projects once she is First Lady. Coupled with her young, inspiring husband and their two adorable children, it is not surprising that comparisons to JFK and Jackie abound in the press and on the web.

My favorite part of Allison Samuels’ article is not the reminder and hope for a return to times past. My favorite discussion is her dissection of our First Lady-Elect as everything she is in addition to mother and wife.

Her ever-present appearance at the side of her husband during the election alongside the coverage of her habitual return to Chicago and her children may make it easy for some to forget that this woman is educated, driven and incredibly intelligent. She has served on the PTA and 6 Boards of Directors across Chicago. She finished law school a year before her husband and, again rumor has it, put off his advances when he interned at the law firm were she was an associate her first year out of school because of her concern over the ethics of an associate dating an intern.

Michelle Obama is the kind of woman I am proud to say I admire. She has not been afraid to speak her mind and has stood tall as those decisions have sometimes been ripped apart by the press. I have read the stories that criticize her fashion choices even the morning after Election Day.

I look forward to the next four (hopefully eight) years. I am excited to see this First Lady in action alongside her husband, and I have serious hopes that she will not be judged as First Ladys present – and past – have for their pursuits both inside and outside the White House. I can’t wait to see what she does next. I hope she inspires a whole new generation of women to step up to the plate.

Monday, October 27, 2008

T-Minus 8 Days

The election is a week away and frankly, I'm pretty ready for it to be
here and happening. There's one part of the news though that I will
not miss when it stops being a 24 hour coverage of Obama and McCain.
I'm sick of the sexist nature of the commentary. If women are voting
for McCain/Palin, they're doing it "because she's a woman" and
Democrats are ripping into them because they're voting the gender
card. If women are voting for Obama/Biden, they're accused of not
standing up for their gender and isn't it important to get a woman in
the White House, one way or another?

When did my gender become my only reason for voting? And when did it
become the only thing that politicians, pollsters and journalists
cared about? I'm almost 26 and gender is not my top priority this
November. Would I have voted for Clinton happily? Yes, but that's
because I agreed with her policies, not her gender. Next Tuesday, I
will be voting for my economic future and the economic future of my
friends and family. I will vote for national security and the shaky
reputation we have on the international stage - I follow Australian
blogs that are watching our presidential race avidly, half out of
interest and half out of fear. I will vote for health care and
infrastructure and the environment and my right to choose what happens
to my body.

I guess, the purpose of this is to say that I'm sick of being told I
should be voting one way or another because of my gender. To me, the
strongest voices women can bring to the polls next week are those that
speak up and speak strong for what they believe in. Isn't that part of
what we've been fighting for all along? Feminism isn't just a numbers
game to me - whether or not we have a woman president, and I can't
wait for the day that we do, or a female Chief Justice, Speaker of the
House or President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Feminism is the belief
that women have a say in the policy and shaping of our Nation because
our voices are equal to our male partners. Just because we're not
sitting at the head of the table doesn't mean we don't have a deep
impact on the daily events in our great Nation's history.

It's part of what drew me to Running Start actually - that we
encourage women to take that step forward and run for office on every
level. The more women at the table, the more we can affect change in
the lives of our families, friends and neighbors.

Next Tuesday, when you go to pull the lever at your local voting
station, touch the screen, fill in the bubble or put the stamp on your
mail-in ballot, do your research and decide based on what believe and
what you want to see happen over the next four years - not on the
gender of the candidate. A win for a woman simply because she's a
woman is not a step forward for feminism in my mind - it's a step back
because she wins because she's being judged as a woman, not a person.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Obama-Clinton Dream Ticket No Longer a Reality

After Hillary Clinton conceded the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama, the concept of a dream ticket emerged in which Clinton would serve as Vice President. This idea seemed like a good way to appease the 18 million people, according to ABC News, who stood behind Clinton during her run for the presidential nomination. However, this dream is no longer a possibility as Obama announced his choice of Senator Joe Biden from Delaware as his vice president last night. As a result, several issues have been raised. Will Obama’s choice to not choose Clinton as his Vice President cost him votes? If he had chosen Clinton, would she have been satisfied as the vice president? Would Clinton have outshined Obama during his presidency if he was elected as Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist and former campaign spokesperson for Al Gore, argued? More importantly, would Clinton and Obama have gotten along in the White House? It seems that there are a lot more questions than answers. Only time will tell if Obama made the right choice or not.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Feminist Hammer Keeps on Tapping

Rebecca Traister’s most recent blog on certainly made me stop for a second. I nearly threw up my hands in dismay and prepared myself to write a loathing review of her words. In fact, I made that snap decision only about half way through the article itself. I’m glad I had the self control to finish what I’d started and that I didn’t run right off to vent through my keyboard. She actually had some (and I mean “some” literally) good points.

The first portion of her blog is rather inflammatory in my opinion, and I rather took umbrage at her opening paragraphs. They seemed unnecessarily harsh and they seemed to use the language that each and every single journalist I have loathed for their political coverage of the women taking part in the 2008 presidential campaign – candidates and candidates’ wives together. It was blunt; it was infuriating; I wanted to throw things at it. As I try not to regularly throw things at my computer, I settled for seething on my couch instead.

I kept reading. I tried to give Ms. Traister the benefit of the doubt. After all, we don’t all support the same candidate. But what I couldn’t understand was that this woman claimed to be a Hillary supporter – or at least claimed that she had voted for her and voted for her because of legitimate reasons, not just because she was a woman. And I’m glad I continued. Though her elucidation on the subject remained rather caustic in my opinion, she came back around towards the end and remembered that Sen. Clinton is a woman making history with every election-step she takes. Her speech on Saturday was moving and powerful, and while she amply took the opportunity to throw her support wholeheartedly behind Sen. Obama, she also remembered to pat not only herself on the back but all the women who have stood before her and behind her on this history changing campaign. She remembered the octogenarians who were born before women had the right to vote in America. She remembered the young women she inspired and the children whose parents brought them to rallies and were reminded that they could be anything they wanted to be when they grew up.

My personal favorite moments: the 18,000,000 cracks in the glass ceiling; and the story about the old woman who cast her absentee ballot from her hospice bed and passed away. Her vote couldn’t be counted because she was no longer living so her husband, who hadn’t voted in 40+ years, went to the primary and voted for Sen. Clinton in his wife’s memory.

There’s no way around the fact that Sen. Clinton has become a polarizing figure in American politics. To me, she will always be the first woman to successfully run a major, nationwide, campaign for the highest office in the land. She will always be the woman who was derided for standing by her husband in the face of national scrutiny of an affair. She will always be the woman who spoke her mind and relentlessly pursued her goals – traits men would be praised for, she was ridiculed and called a ball-buster or fake. Whether Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain win the White House in November, this has been a historical primary season and Sen. Clinton has been one of the pivotal pieces of making it historic.

That was the final point I decided to take from Rebecca Traister’s blog earlier tonight. I decided to stare past what I found offensive and ugly and see the over-arching message I desperately wanted to see in an article that claimed to see the feminist hammer knocking on the glass wall between women across the country and the Oval Office.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Women Under Forty PAC Summer BBQ Bash

I am consistently inspired by the women I work with and interact everyday in Washington. Even more so, I am always awestruck by the number of women I see and meet at events in Washington who are giving their all to the cause of encouraging young women to strive for more but who are not actually from the District. They come from all over the country; they come for many reasons that aren't always central to that message; and they always make the effort to donate their time and resources to furthering the wonderful cause of Running Start and the Women Under 40 PAC(WUFPAC).

Last night, I was thrilled to join these women at the WUFPAC Summer BBQ event on Capitol Hill. There was great food, excellent conversation and only a little rain. Actually it rained a lot. So much so that we were running back and forth between the tent outside and the inside of the townhouse, throwing caution to the wind and not really caring how soaked we got. Everyone laughed about the weather and found themselves suddenly standing next to new people as they dashed in from the storm and back out again as the night cleared and rained repeatedly. I spoke with women from all walks of life - private industry, non-profit, staffers from both the House and Senate side - and they all were excited about the same message: We need more young women in elected offices. We need to see them running and winning earlier so that we can see things happen with them at a younger age. I want to see the changes that women working together, across political party lines, for the greater good of our country. And working together, organizations like Running Start and the WUFPAC are going to make these goals happen. They need all of our support.

I had a great time at this event. Everyone was so excited to be there and see the wonderful turn out, and everyone wanted to talk about how great it would be if we had more young women involved in politics. Given the fact that the only thing I seem to see covered on the news anymore is the presidential primaries, it was a relief to talk about something else - elections of the future when the young women who benefit from programs like Running Start's Path to Politics and Young Women's Political Leadership Retreat will succeed and accomplish things that politicians today ignore or brush under the rug as though problems will just go away if you don't see them or discuss them.

I had the chance to talk to the President of WUFPAC, Jessica Grounds. She is so inspiring and so excited to see young women get involved in politics and, true to any organization leader, she was amazingly everywhere at once, greeting former Member of Congress Pat Schroder (who was a woman under 40 when she was first elected!) and Representative Tim Ryan (OH-17) as they arrived, making sure everyone was taken care of and still making time to chat with young women interested in politics and running for office. In addition to Jessica, I got the chance to talk to Karen O'Connor and Barbara Palmer, both distinguished professors at American University who run the Women & Politics Institute there. Both were wonderful and kind and eager to answer my many questions about their careers and their dedication to the cause of bringing women to politics.

By the time I left I had consumed delicious BBQ, discussed important current events and future politics and met many men and women putting themselves out there to get more women involved in politics. I wish more fundraisers and political receptions left me with such a great feeling and bounce in my step despite the fact that the rain continued, and I was soaked to the skin by the time I got home.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

CNN takes apart Vogue, Cindy McCain & Michelle Obama

Today’s political atmosphere has birthed inspired passion and obsessed acolytes at a time of economic shakiness and international frisson. As with any multiparty election system, there will be a portion of our people sorely disappointed no matter what the outcome of the second Tuesday in November. They will rail against the rules and bylaws and claim they were cheated by a system that was created before cars, the Internet or cell phones. And this will be true whether a Democrat or a Republican wins the highest seat in the land that day.

In this winter of discontent, new leaders must emerge and champion the social issues of the day, see funding for important projects through increasingly hostile Beltway waters and do what people are essentially sent here to do, govern a vastly diverse and complexly at odds country. These leaders will be men and women chosen by their constituencies for beliefs personal and political and actions political and personal. They will be judged by what they do, what they say, who they are seen with and who they are seen without, and for the driven women who people their ranks, they will be judged by the most inconsequential of all rulers, their clothes, their hair and their packaged look.

I have again had this double standard thrust before my eyes this week in the coverage of the two prominent potential First Ladies who have taken oaths to stand by their husbands, in sickness and health, in election years and political downtime, as CNN choose to cover the fashion choices of potential First Ladies, Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama. Do you ever wonder if they kick their husbands out of bed in the morning because all they really want is to sleep in and make waffles, as even the most career-minded person, man or woman, is wont to do occasionally? Oh, to be a fly on the wall when they want to be anywhere but the campaign bus. Really, I want to be there when they voice an opinion in a meeting they’re attending that is not well received, because to me, that’s the woman I want to know is going to stand by our next President or be our next President.

As fascinating as understanding the reasoning behind Cindy McCain’s choice of blue jeans in a Vogue spread versus Michelle Obama’s choice of a black dress and pearls in hers, what I am most curious about is where these women stand on the issues that their husbands and Sen. Clinton are campaigning on – and I don’t just want their canned responses that they support and share their husbands’ beliefs and positions. I want to know what Michelle Obama says when her daughters ask her about gay marriage – if they ask her at all. I want to know what Cindy McCain says when her children express concern about their father’s age and the brutal pace of the presidential campaign and then term in the White House. Do they think of their daughters when the topic of choice comes up on the trail? Do they think of their sons or nephews when people question whether a draft should be reinstated?

I question this because I feel like these are questions I know or at least have a good idea of answers for when women themselves run for office. Sen. Clinton may or may not win the nomination. She may or may not answer every question with candor and honesty – she is a politician – I don’t expect pure black and white from her or any of her colleagues frankly. But these are questions I want to ask women who hold political office or hope to hold political office.

I’ve read and been told that this is a step in the wrong direction. People don’t question a man’s family unless scandal is associated with him. They don’t ask him how he’ll raise the child his wife is ready to have any day now, but you can be sure that a pregnant political candidate is going to be asked how she plans on raising that child and holding an office at the same time. It’s just not a question men get.

I want these questions to be asked of all our political candidates because we are a world and a country in desperate need of mothers right now. People say that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,” and with more than 4,000 dead in Afghanistan and Iraq, bombings happening everyday between Israel and Palestine and correction facilities filling to the brim every year with convicts who seem younger and younger as they move from juvenile detention directly into the criminal system, I want leaders who recognize that to nurture is a strength, not a weakness. Leaders must know that the bigger gun will not always win against a cunning enemy, and that creating a world where we lessen the need for bigger guns every year is a goal we should all strive for in honor of our children and their children after them.

When did asking these questions become a weakness? Why have they stayed sexist? Couldn’t we turn the tables if we started asking these questions of men and of women? Would that not even the playing field just a little, while still getting answers to vital questions?

If these are questions we continue to shy away from because they weaken women by reminding voters of our inate ability to create and carry life, what’s the point of questioning politicians at all? Why do we bother with elections and campaigns? They could fill out a survey, distribute it and we could choose based on those answers, blindly. I suppose the media circus of today will never let that happen but I deeply hope that I see fewer stories dissecting wardrobe choices in our political candidates. I could care less if someone spends $400 on a hair cut or wears blue jeans or a black dress for a fashion spread. I want to know what they will do when eight proverbial balls are in the air and the famed red phone rings as they all start to fall. And I want to know, straight up, what kind of world they will leave for the children I will have someday. Those are the stories that matter and the rest is merely filler in a book that could use fewer words to relay its point.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In the Center Ring: Issues

I listen to Sens. Obama and Clinton talk of health care and the economy, global warming and the war in Iraq, and I notice that they only drop in the personal anecdote or campaign anecdote rarely. They are full of talk of big ideas and big policy. I expect more from my leaders. And frankly, I expect more from the mothers, sisters, daughters and granddaughters who run the country now, in our Congress, on local school boards and paving the way for a new generation of women to leap into politics with both feet.

I want to believe that the politics I experience as a young woman in America is built on the backs of people who remember that a system for all to have health care versus a system that lowers cost for health care need to accomplish the same thing in the end: my siblings need to be able to take their children to the doctor when they're sick, whether their health care is universal or lower cost. I want to believe that my stepmother and aunt and cousins will be able to retire because they've faithfully paid into Social Security every year they have worked. I'm tired of hearing people degrade the Speaker of my House of Representatives – and as a citizen of the U.S., it is mine – because she's a woman.

In the coming years, whether our White House is Democrat or Republican, we need to come together to solve the problems of all Americans. I want to have health care and not just because I work for a company that offers it. I want to see green technology thrive because everyone sees that it's good and necessary. Most of all, I want to see people step back from the overabundance that flows from the internet, the network television, the capitalist-driven market place. I want to see stories on the news, not all as horrifying as 400+ children being removed from their home and families for certain, that reflect the actual people of the United States. I want to know what is going on in Iraq because those are friends of mine and friends of my friends over there. I'm tired of non-stop electioneering and policy. If I have to see politics in the news, I don't know about you, but I want it to be stories about the accomplishments of our politicians as we go forward into a twenty-first century that will have to see change, whether our leaders are black or white, male or female or Democrat or Republican.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A World That Women Will Build

I consider myself a reader before anything else. I read posters and signs when there is nothing else to read. I am permanently doing damage to my shoulders and back with books that weigh down the single-strap purses I know are bad for my posture. I read when I'm tired; I read when I'm awake; I read when I'm hungry and am trying to hold off until the next scheduled meal.

And I am presently inspired by the books I see getting media coverage. Maybe it's the presence of our first competitive female candidate in the presidential election or maybe it's the fact that mothers and young women are among the highest spending consumers in the market. All I know is that I am inundated with books I want to read, and they all revolve around women, power and confidence.

In a previous post, I discussed attending a book signing by Dee Dee Myers that was to promote her new book, Why Women Should Rule the World. It still languishes on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. This morning, before I'd even had a chance to have coffee, I saw a feature on CNN about Seducing the Boys Club: Uncensored Tactics from a Woman at the Top by Nina Disesa, the first woman and first creative director named chairman at McCann Erickson New York, one of – if not the – largest advertising agencies in the world. Now obviously, as I just saw this feature this morning, I have not read the book yet. But I would imagine it is, as the subtitle suggests, everything from tips and anecdotes to glass ceilings and straightforward advice from a woman who has made it to the top of her profession.

As a young woman myself, I see in books like Ms. Myers's and Ms. Disesa's, the possibility for women to learn from each other and to take something back from what has for so many years been an "old boys club": politics. In a few years, I may be adding to my list books by women I respect and admire like Sen. Clinton and Michelle Obama. There may be new voices out there who have tackled Washington with a new excitement and a new energy who are ready to inspire the young women who look up to them. I just hope that I continue to see women who have broken through the proverbial glass ceiling reaching back through that barrier and holding out a helping hand to young women trying to make it themselves. I am encouraged daily by the women I see around me; the women who work in offices on Capitol Hill; the women who provide insight and commentary on the news and political events of the day; and the women who encourage me to make the most of my talents and to keep reaching for dreams I thought long dead and in the past.

All of these women who are my examples and who have been my examples for years are women who have, at some point or another, handed me a book. They are not all works of non-fiction. They are not all even books but sometimes are articles and magazines that they thought would inspire me or give me insight into the person they saw me becoming. I read because of them, and I read because I know that someday I want to be able to hand off a book to a young women in whose eyes and voice and excitement I can see a better future for her children and my own. I read on the Metro; I read on the bus; I read walking down the sidewalk – sometimes to the detriment of my toes and coffee – and I will keep reading because I see so much in what to some is just a pile of paper covered in scribbles.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Women to Watch Awards

Ladies and Gentlemen, the next time you are searching for a little inspiration or you're feeling downtrodden and like nothing you do is good enough, Google-search a few of these women and be reminded that one person, one woman, can make miracles happen around the world. Last night, I was honored to attend Running Start's Second Annual Women to Watch Awards at the National Press Club. There, I got to witness history happen. And I don't care if you don't see it on the national news - it was history because I got to see women who will someday be on a much larger public stage than mine be recognized for the incredible work that they do.

This year's nominees included, Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools, Chief of Police Cathy Lanier, Nicole Lee, Executive Direct of the TransAfrica Forum, Dana Perino, Press Secretary to President George W. Bush, and Linda Rottenberg, founder of the nonprofit Endeavor. Not only did these incredible women accept their awards and speak briefly on women in politics, the Women to Watch Awards brought together women and men from all walks of life and all manner of careers for an evening of conversation and recognition of the impact that women can and will have on the public arena in the coming years.

I was reminded last night, by a young woman who attended last year's Young Women's Political Leadership Retreat, of Mahatma Ghandi's truth, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world," and again wanted to be the change in the world as we in the audience listened to the stories of these female leaders who are everyday living a dream and breaking through glass ceilings that will help young women later.

During the reception before the awards were actually presented, I was lucky enough to meet some of the attendees and some of the award recipients. All everyone was talking about was how great Running Start is and how exciting they find the organization. There was no talk of the election among the groups among which I wandered. There was no talk of partisanship, although a friend much more versed in Washington "Who's Who" than I observed that Dems stuck with Dems and Republicans stuck with Republicans, as Running Start is a completely nonpartisan organization. It was awe-inspiring and so exciting to see this complete removal of the all-pervasive politics at a political gathering.

In the end, I walked away from a beautiful evening inspired to go out again and try my hardest to be the change I want to see in the world. Plus, I got to meet Dana Perino, which - as a writer and a young woman pursuing a career in communications and politics - was pretty awesome.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Next President of the United States speaks at Millersville University

"She is a woman who understands our children need the best education, who understands senior citizens need Social Security, who understands every American should be entitled to healthcare. Here she is, the next President of the United States, Hillary Clinton." This was Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell's introduction last night at Millersville University in Lancaster County where Hillary spoke to over 3,000 college students and local residents. Hillary came out with a big smile on her face and sporting a dark red suit jacket and tailored black pants, shaking hands with audience members. She thanked everyone for coming out and acknowledged the College's basketball team was competing in the NCAA tournament at the same time, which drew cheers from the crowd. She started her speech by stating "this is one of the most important elections because it will determine the direction of this country for the rest of the 21st century." The overall theme of the issues she addressed was "We need a President that's more concerned about Main Street than Wall Street." This statement appealed highly to the audience, the majority of which is middle and working class. She vowed that as President, she would give back to the communities and create new jobs. She would implement a plan to start bringing troops home within sixty days, as they have already done what they were asked to do: bring down Saddam Hussein. She would establish a healthcare tax credit, as it is morally unethical and financially unwise for 47 million Americans to live without health insurance. She would invest more money in our education programs and end No Child Left Behind because "children should not be turned into little test takers." She won the college students when she said she would make college more affordable by increasing the tax credit and eliminate the high interest rates of student loan companies. She stated she would also provide more job training and apprenticeship programs to young people that don't go to college. She concluded her speech, for which she got a standing ovation, by stating "we need to restore moral authority and leadership universally and we have a lot to do back home to accomplish this. We have got to put us first. We got to take control of our destiny."

So what did Hillary’s speech mean to me? First of all, let me establish I grew up in conservative home and am a registered Republican. However, I switched party affiliations to Democratic just so I can vote for Hillary in this election. That says a lot. If Hillary is elected, she would make history; she would be the first woman and the first First lady to become President. However, that is not important; I just find it cool. It is what she said at Millersville University that mattered. I agree with her that this is an important election that will determine the direction the country will take for the rest of the century. I agree that every American needs health insurance and that college needs to be more affordable, I worry about when I graduate in May about being able to afford health insurance and if Hillary is President, I know I can be covered at a reasonable rate. Although I do not have any college debt (I’m there in scholarship so I consider myself lucky), all of my friends are. Six months after they graduate in May, their student loan companies will hit them up for their money back. They will struggle to pay it back and it may even take years for them to become debt free. No one should have to deal with this. Finally, I agree that while it was necessary to send troops to Iraq, they did all they were asked to do: bring down Saddam Hussein. They did their job; its time to not drag out this war any longer, and bring our troops home! Go Hillary!!!

Dee Dee Myers

So, I just saw Dee Dee Myers speak at Politics & Prose bookstore. For those of you who don't pay attention to politics (and I used to be one of you), Dee Dee Myers was President Clinton's Press Secretary at the beginning of his administration. She was the first woman to hold the post of Press Secretary of the White House. She was only 31. When she left that position she went on to collaborate with Aaron Sorkin as an adviser on The West Wing; she also worked with Vanity Fair; she contributed to political television shows as host and pundit; and she became a mother, writer and general all-around awesome example to women everywhere, but especially in politics.She was at Politics & Prose for a stop on her first book tour, stumping for her first book, Why Women Should Rule the World and she spoke for a half hour about the women and sociology and politics. It would be challenging to summarize her message mostly because I think it is one that many women can understand on some level, so I'm not going to just outline her main points. I felt that her thesis for her book which she described as an examination of women and what could be possible and challenging if women ruled the world. I realize that sounds a little brief and a little vague but it was a complex outline that I think requires I actually read the book before I try to lay down the main points coherently. (And it's a new book so I don't feel guilty about not reading it before I actually went to the talk.)Ms. Myers took questions at the end and I got to ask her if she had any advice or words of wisdom for young women entering the political arena now. She talked about the importance of mentorship and claiming our accomplishments which I think are both such important aspects of success inside and outside of politics. She talked about how many women she knew would talk about amazing mentors they had or that they didn't have a mentor and how important it is to remember to step up and say, especially to other women, "I'm really interested in this issue/policy/idea. Do you have any advice? Can you help me?" It's a question that I often find myself asking and one I get one of two reactions to. On the one hand, I meet people everyday who are incredibly helpful and often thrilled that I'm excited about something they are excited about and want to learn from them. On the other hand, I am told to "fake it 'til you make it" and to not ask that question because people will know that I don't know. It's particularly interesting to me because I get these answers from both men and women. In fact, I get the second answer more from women than from men but feel I get the first answer frequently from both. Did I mention that I ask a lot of questions - and I mean a lot? Because I do. I love to ask questions.I was inspired by her advice to own our successes. She talked about how there are often projects we complete and competitions we win that we quietly say thank you and go home to shelve our award. Women need to stand up and say, "Thank you! I really worked hard but I knew it was worth it and I knew I could do it." We need to remember to say that to other women and to praise the efforts of our friends and co-workers. Both are actions I know that I do not take often enough and wish I did more.So I walked away from this talk with renewed inspiration in the idea of politics and the power of women. And a really cool inscription in my freshly purchased copy of Why Women Should Rule the World.

Written by Rachael Berkley

Monday, February 11, 2008

More Clinton Controversy

News anchor David Shuster of MSNBC has been temporarily suspended after making controversial remarks about Chelsea Clinton. Chelsea has been rallying for her mom on the campaign trail and has invited the media to interview her and youth nationwide on why Hillary Clinton should be the next president. Shuster stated this was not the Chelsea we knew when her father was President; the quiet, withdrawn girl is now a young woman making her voice heard on her mother’s behalf. He then proceeded to ask, "Doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way.” Afterwards, Clinton’s press secretary and Shuster exchanged e-mail messages in which Shuster initially defended his statement and got a mouthful. Shuster apologized for using inappropriate language and for offending the Clintons, the campaign, and anyone else.

At a press conference at the University of Maine, Senator Clinton addressed the issue by stating: “the comments were part of a troubling pattern of demeaning treatment. There has been a troubling pattern of comments and behaviors that has to be held accountable.”
Senator Clinton also wrote a letter to Steve Capus, president of NBC, which stated,
"I became Chelsea's mother long before I ran for any office, and I will always be a mom first and a public official second. Nothing justifies the kind of debasing language that David Shuster used, and no temporary suspension or half-hearted apology is sufficient."
It seems that the Clintons can’t seem to catch a break during the Presidential Campaign.
Chelsea should not have to be demoralized for growing into a mature, young woman capable of having a voice and bringing support to her mom’s campaign. This seems like another attack on the Clinton campaign just because Hillary Clinton is a woman. Therefore, Senator Clinton is right when she states these comments fit a pattern that need to be held accountable.