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Sex and politics: the final post

December 8, 2008

Over the past four weeks since the election ended, I’ve been really excited to post about the dynamic women Obama has chosen to place in prominent cabinet positions.  But, over this past week, the attitude has changed in the political climate as claims of sexism rise to the surface again.

Yesterday, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell defended a comment that he made about Obama’s pick for Homeland Security Secretary, according to a CNN article.  Last week, Rendell said Janet Napolitano would be perfect for the job because she had no family and “no life,” leaving some to cry sexist, as no one would say a man can’t complete a job with a family.  Rendell defended himself, reiterating that what he said was true, and he would have said it whether Napolitano was Janet or “Jim.”

At the end of last week, CNN commentator Campbell  Brown called out Hillary Clinton on changing her tough stance on sexism.  A photo from an Obama speechwriter was circulated around Facebook–and then the media–where he groped a likeness of Clinton. Her spokesperson’s response?  It was goodnatured fun.  Brown said this doesn’t sound like the same woman who spoke out about gender issues throughout her presidential campaign.

If I’ve learned anything from keeping this blog over the past several months, it’s that gender creeps into every area of the political arena, not just in a major presidential campaign with two female candidates along the way.  And it looks like, for some, the sexism that pervades some areas of politics isn’t going anywhere soon.

I’ve always cared a great deal about gender issues and politics and this blog has been a great way to combine those two interests and offer my opinions.  I learned a lot about combining news and opinion in the blog format and feel that I found my voice as the weeks progressed.  It was also a great excuse to read as much election news as I wanted!  If I were to keep a blog like this in the future, I would definitely work to incorporate more multimedia.

Today is my last post on this blog, but I’m sure that gender issues will continue to creep up in the days, months and even years to come. My hope is that with each appointment of a female cabinet position and with each female presidential, vice presidential or congressional candidate, the political glass ceiling will continue to crack until it ultimately shatters.  My hope is that someday, no one will care whether or not Janet Napolitano has a family, or whether or not Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits are flattering.  My hope is that one day we’ll see a woman go the whole way to the White House.

Thanks for reading!


It’s official: Hillary is Madame Secretary

December 1, 2008

Photo courtesy of CNN

Barack Obama announced his national security team today and the head diplomat position is officially going to his former rival from the primaries.  Hillary Clinton is his pick for Secretary of State.

According to an article from CNN this morning, Obama praised Hillary at a Chicago news conference, saying, “I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our State Department and to work with me in tackling this ambitious foreign policy agenda.”

An article in the USA Today Monday, Obama’s pick is unique–it’s the first time a president chose a former political rival since 1881.  Plus, the article points out, Clinton’s background in women’s rights is a departure from the careers in academia or the military that past picks boasted.

According to a blog from the Chicago Sun Times, New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Clinton friend, called the choices “brilliant, bold and brave,” and I couldn’t agree more.  Now it’s time for Madame Secretary to focus on the many difficult issues that our facing our world, including the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

And, like Obama, I have complete confidence in her.

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, 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!