Archive for November, 2008

The Women of Obama’s Future Cabinet

November 20, 2008

Last week, the news broke that Obama is considering Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.  And this week, the vetting process is expanding to include two more high-powered women.

According to a CNN article earlier today, sources are reporting that Obama’s top pick for commerce secretary is Chicago businesswoman Penny Pritzker, who was his campaign’s finance chair.

The biography on Pritzker’s official Web site repots that she is an “innovative business buiilder, a civic leader and a philanthropist.”  The billionaire chairs four major corporations.

The CNN article also reported that Obama’s top pick for homeland security secretary will be Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, the former U.S. Attorney General for Arizona.

According to Napolitano’s official governor Web site, she was selected by Time Magazine as one of America’s Top Five Governors and “continues to fight for quality schools, affordable health care, sensible and forward-thinking economic development, a safe homeland and has taken extensive measures to create fiscal responsibility and to end bureaucratic waste.”

While the choices await official vetting and, of course, acceptance from the choices, I applaud Obama for choosing three powerful women for important cabinet posts.  

Here’s to seeing even more as the positions fill up.

Women shattering political glass ceiling?

November 17, 2008

Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton may have lost out at the polls, but recent articles analyzing the election are pointing to the gains that women made during the election.

A CNN article last week quoted Washington editor-at large for Huffingtonpost.com, Hilary Rosen, a Hillary supporter. “‘Women are about 54 percent of the vote,’ Rosen said. ‘Do we have equal representation? No. Are we closer to it? Yes,'” the article says.

The House of Representatives will see 10 new women joining their ranks, for a total of 64 women out of a total of 435 seats.  The U.S. Senate gained one female member, Jeanne Shaheen, Dem. New Hampshire. The CNN article also pointed to the women who have already been appointed and are expected to be selected for White House postings.

But not everyone agrees.  According to an article from the Christian Science Monitor yesterday, Marie Wilson, the president of the White House Project, which advocates for women in leadership, “‘At this rate it will take us till 2063 to reach parity.'”

Te article pointed to “bright spots,” like New Hampshire, where women hold the majority of the Senate seats.

I agree with both sides.  The strides made for women during the election were extraordinary, normalizing the idea that a woman can make it the whole way to the top of the ticket. But I understand that we still have a long way to go.  Here’s to the women that will make headlines and changes in 2012.

Hillary brings back unity

November 17, 2008

John McCain declared in his concession speech earlier this month that we should no longer be a group of red states and blue states, and that now is the time to come together as a country.

But it looks like it may take someone defeated by president-elect Obama a few months earlier to bring unity, or at least consensus among party leaders.  As the rumors that Senator Hillary Clinton may be selected as the next Secretary of State continued to circulate throughout the weekend after her visit to Chicago, both sides of the political fence are praising the possibility that the former rivals may be working together.

According to an article from CNN earlier today, Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state for Nixon and Ford said Clinton would be an “outstanding selection.”  The article also quoted several other Republican congress people who backed Clinton.  Also, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California said, “I think this could be a great move.”

And one more backer?  Bill.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Bill Clinton said on Sunday that, “I think she’ll be really great as secretary of state.

I couldn’t agree more.  Especially if it means I get to bring my primary-season Hillary t-shirt out of retirement.

Time for a comeback?

November 14, 2008

It looks like my favorite woman of the 2008 election may be staging her comeback.  Reports tonight are indicating that Barack Obama may be considering Hillary Clinton as a candidate for secretary of state.

According to this article from the Chicago Tribune, Obama’s team said this evening that Senator Clinton would be an “asset to the new administration,” but wouldn’t confirm any specifics, including whether or not she’s being considered for secretary of state.

Clinton’s office said she flew to Chicago earlier on Thursday for personal business, according to a Reuters article. Some think appointing his primary opponent may help to completely heal any bitter divides left over from the race, especially after Clinton supporters criticized Obama for passing her up as a vice presidential candidate.

Other names that have been tossed around lately have included 2004 Democratic candidate John Kerry and Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican who backed Barack Obama during the election.

I couldn’t be more excited for the possibly return of this strong and independent woman, as a former Hillary Clinton supporter in the general election.

I hope she brings the pantsuits to Washington.

Women voters helped to elect Obama

November 10, 2008

Last Tuesday, Barack Obama gained more than 65 million votes from Americans.  And a lot of them were women.

According to a CNN exit poll across the country, the election would have been a lot closer without female voters.  49 percent of men voted for Obama, 48 percent for McCain and 3 percent for another candidate or no answer.  The gap widens significantly for women.  56 percent of women voted for Obama, 43 percent for McCain and 1 percent for another candidate or no answer.  Plus, according to the same poll, women made of 53 percent of voters on Tuesday.

Women voters are often the “key” to a Democratic win, according to an article last week from the Associated Press.

But the woman on the ticket also seemed to influence voters.  Four in 10 voters said Sarah Palin was an important factor in the decision, with this group preferring Obama, according to the AP article.  But nine in 10 voters who chose McCain called his decision “important.”

It looks like John McCain’s choice to put a woman on his ticket wasn’t enough to sway female voters.  I think this is great news for the United States, especially the women.  We aren’t swayed by the package of male or female, but instead by what the candidate actually stands for, including issues about women’s rights.

Obama’s right-hand woman–a senator?

November 10, 2008

Rumor has it election 2008 may be bringing another woman into the prominent political fold.  Barack Obama’s long-time friend and advisor, as well as one of the three co-chairs of his transitional committee, is reportedly on the list to fill his Illinois senate seat.

According to a report from ABC 7 Chicago, the ultimate decision rests with Governor Rod Blagojevich.  “But,” the article says, “Obama friend and confident (sic) Valerie Jarrett is the president-elect’s preference.”

Yet other articles claim Obama is planning to offer Jarrett a spot on his cabinet, possibly, according to an article from the Telegraph, in charge of housing or transport, or even as a senior adviser.  

According to the piece in the Telegraph, Jarrett, an Iranian-born lawyer, has no Washington experience, but has been “a friend and mentor to Mr. Obama for 17 years, and has been referred to as ‘the other side of Obama’s brain.'”

And the Chicago Tribune puts Jarrett on the possible short list, along with other picks like Jesse Jackson and Attorney General Lisa Madigan, another woman to keep an eye on.

However the Senate decision goes, I do hope Obama chooses a diverse cabinet.

Sarah the Diva: The Sequel

November 9, 2008

It’s finally over.  Last Tuesday night, history was made when the United States elected Barack Obama as its next president.

But that doesn’t mean all of our favorite women of the 2008 election are going anywhere anytime soon.  Sarah Palin has been making headlines all week about her clashes with McCain staffers (one even dubbed her a “diva” before the election).  And it seems like our interview-shy Governor Palin has turned over a new leaf.

Since she’s disembarked her plane in Alaska, Sarah Palin has been granting news interviews, many of which have been focused on the new rumors spreading about her.  Among the criticisms were charges that Palin didn’t know Africa was a continent and that she didn’t know the countries that were covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to a New York Times article.

Sarah Palin’s response?  They’re “jerks.”  And maybe even sexist.

Check out this video from CNN, where Sarah Palin says the other 49 states have something to learn from Alaska, and that’s gender equality.  I couldn’t agree more with Palin that politics, and even this election, have been dominated by sexism.  Maybe Palin herself would want to rethink some of the comments she made about Hillary Clinton’s “whine” of sexism during the primary?  

Funny that now the media is enemy number one for Sarah Palin these days.

But I also don’t think it’s just a problem of Alaska vs. the rest of the United States.  And I definitely don’t think the problem is just the media.  Instead of name-calling, I think it’s time we find a way to create a dialogue about gender issues in politics.  

And, as for McCains unnamed aides, don’t you think it’s time to give it a break?  The election is over.

Happy Election Day!

November 4, 2008

 

photo courtesy of Glamour magazine

photo courtesy of Glamour magazine

I know she’s out, but I couldn’t resist this image from Glamour magazine for election day.  She’s my favorite woman of the 2008 election, along with her “sisterhood of traveling pantsuits” 

Vote early!

The Palin Factor

November 3, 2008

Tomorrow it will all be over.  At least we hope, hanging chads and recounts aside.

And as we head into the final hours of the election, new polls are indicating that Sarah Palin may be dragging the Republican ticket down, and McCain may be doing better in the polls without her.

According to a new CNN poll released yesterday, if Biden and Palin were to go toe-to-toe on a separate vote for Vice President, Biden would beat his opponent by 12 points. And, removing the Palin factor, would give Obama only a 4-point lead over McCain.

Conventional wisdom tells us that people vote for the top of the ticket.  But, according to a New York Times article earlier this week, a third of voters say the vice presidential pick is a major factor in their vote.  And 59 percent of voters say Sarah Palin is not prepared for the job of vice president.

And it makes sense.  When Barack Obama chose Joe Biden to join his ticket, he gained experience, respectability and conventionality.  When John McCain chose Sarah Palin, he gained youth and excitement at the base of the Republican party.  But, much like the scrutiny Obama faced over whether or not he had enough experience to be president, Palin has had to work to prove herself.  And according to these numbers, it doesn’t look like most Americans think she passed the test.

Either way, after nearly two years of intense campaigning, November 4 will come and go and, with it, a new president and vice president.  I’m excited to look at where Sarah Palin, only the second women to be nominated for vice president by a major party, will fit into the future of the Republican party.

Don’t forget to vote.

What do women want?

November 3, 2008

In two days, Americans will head to the polls.  Many will be women.
According to an article in the Connecticult Post yesterday, 38 million women who were elgible to vote sat out in the 2004 election.  But the 2008 election has been all about the women–from the big names, like Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin to the women behind the candidates, like Barack Obama’s senior advisor Valerie Jarrett to the women at home, like Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain.

But even as Americans could be days away from electing the first female vice president, most women are throwing their support behind the Obama/Biden ticket, according to a recent Newsday article.  And, in some states, this difference is remarkable.  According to a Boston Globe article from earlier this week, for instance, Obama has an overall lead of 53 to 40 percent; the difference jumps to 60 to 35 percent when just considering women voters.  It seems sharing the same gender is not enough.  Women want a candidate who supports their rights.

As the National Organization for Women put it, “Not every woman supports women’s rights.”

As feminist Gloria Steinem put it in the LA Times earlier in the election season to Clinton supporters who were courting a McCain Vote, “To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, ‘Somebody stole my shoes, so I’ll amputate my legs.'”

As Hillary Clinton put it earlier today in Florida, “Don’t let your friends vote Republican!”

And as Barack Obama put it last year, “Women have always made the difference in every election, and this year, your voice, your hope will be the deciding factors in forging a new future for America.”

I hope he’s right.