Thursday, June 25, 2009

Elect more women

DANA PERINO, former White House Press Secretary for Pres. George W. Bush, on The Corner, offered her proposed solution to adultery by government officials. I don't often find myself agreeing with former Bush officials, but I think she brings a good idea to the table:

"While I am not able to explain, I do think I know the answer to all of this: Elect more women. No woman I know has the time for such trysts, nor do I know any who say they desire one. They’re too busy trying to keep all the plates spinning at home, at work, and at the gym to make sure none fall and break.

"Still, many of them are left with broken hearts. What a sad state of affairs."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Girls can't jump?

An interesting article this week online at on the "Power Game" (versus the "power lunch") in DC now - the invitation to play hoops at the White House.

Thankfully, Politico writer Lisa Lerer covered the high points (or low points) of this boy's club in a guest post on Double X: "Girls Can't Play White House Hoops?"

Obsessive White House watchers can't stop talking about an ESPN article on the political pecking order of presidential basketball games. Author Wright Thompson breaks down the sociology (and some of the psychology) of how power works in Washington.

"What's the hottest invite in Washington?" former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers asks in the article. "Yeah, it's great to go to White House state dinners or Stevie Wonder kinds of events. But what's the sine qua non? It's a pickup game with Obama. That's the inner, inner, inner sanctum."

All over town, people are playing hoops—in newly started leagues, in pickup games at private schools, even in Congress—as they try to work their way into games with Obama, or at least with his advisers. The piece is packed with insider anecdotes. But it also delivered another insight that I found far less entertaining: In the story, only one woman makes it onto the court.

This isn't the only evidence that the inner Obama circle might be just a little bit too male, despite the presence of some high-level female staffers like Valerie Jarrett and Anita Dunn. Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus picked up on the same theme in a column on aide Ellen Moran's move in April from White House communications director to chief of staff at the Commerce Department.

Of course, politics tends to be male-dominated. Women still only represent 17 percent of members of Congress. But for an administration promising change, shouldn't we expect more than moving the boys' club from the golf course to the basketball court?
Yet again, another "inner inner" boy's club that Obama's change-promising administration is not only endorsing, but also promoting. Sigh.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Nice left hook

From this morning's Playbook:

Senator Boxer, to Army Brigadier General Michael Walsh, at a hearing Tuesday: 'You know, do me a favor: Could you say 'Senator' instead of 'Ma'am'? It's just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title. So I'd appreciate it.'

Senator McCain, to Sean Hannity last night, with a mischievous grin: 'Thank you for calling me 'Senator' and not 'sir.''

The youtube clip is definitely worth the watch!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Couric Still Isn’t One of the Boys

And that’s exactly what I like about her.

I’ll admit that I’m out of the evening network news demographic, so when Katie Couric was given the glass ceiling shattering anchor chair from Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News in 2006, it felt more like a windshield chip. Significant enough to take note, but not something I was particularly paying attention to.

So when I read her graduation speech to Princeton this June, I feel like she’s slowly spidered her way into a significant place in women’s history. Not only did she spend the first half of her speech mocking Princeton for her being the first female graduation speaker (“So, I'd like to officially welcome Princeton to the 21st Century”), but she also spent a solid piece of her speech offering straight shooting advice for young women graduates:
Third, I have a message particularly for all you young women here today...

I'm sure you are all graduating with big career goals. You may also have a dream of being married and having a family, and at some point the career may take a backseat...I just want to say this--sometimes dreams of domestic bliss are interrupted by reality. People get divorced. People die. You need to protect yourself. I was very happily married to a wonderful man. He was diagnosed with colon cancer and nine months later, he was gone. I was a single mom with two very young children. This was not part of the plan. Luckily, I had a career and therefore the financial independence to support my children. Many women in my situation are not nearly as fortunate. And while I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer, I want you all to be prepared for the unexpected and approach some of the big life decisions you'll be making with your eyes wide open.
For all of the critiques she received when taking over CBS Evening News, in some ways, Couric taking that seat became a foreshadowing of what turned out to be the “Year of the Woman.”

Her interviews with Sarah Palin provided the opportunity to demonstrate that she could be a kind, yet hard hitting journalist, asking tough, honest questions without the charges of sexism or misogyny. She proved to be exactly a voice that was needed during such a long and difficult campaign season, with the gender wars in full speed.

As she said in the NYTimes Sept. 15, 2008:
“[The election] is a great story for everyone, clearly,” she said. “But with the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and the emergence of Governor Palin, it is also worthwhile to have a female perspective on the news as well.”

“You’d like the gender issues to fall away, just as you hope that at some point the race thing will fade,” she said. “The road to gender equality really starts when the novelty wears off. And I think my presence anchoring a nightly newscast is much less jarring than it might have been initially.”
Here’s to a long tenure in that anchor chair – and a continued voice for career women everywhere.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Like it’s 1999

After a flurry of excited emails last night, this morning I woke up to discover that the latest news about Obama’s olive branch to LGBT groups turns out to have even fewer olives than originally portrayed.

From this morning's NYTimes: "President Obama will sign a presidential memorandum on Wednesday to extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees, administration officials said Tuesday evening, but he will stop short of pledging full health insurance coverage." (emphasis mine)

Yep, this seems to fit right in line with:

The first drafts of the story suggested full benefits expansion to same sex partners of federal employees. And even that news was greeted skeptically. As Alan Van Capelle of the Empire State Pride Agenda said: "Welcome to 1999. How revolutionary of the White House to give benefits to same-sex couples, when two-thirds of conservative Wall Street are already doing it."

It’s noteworthy that Obama felt significant political pressure to finally offer something to the LGBT community. After a devastating loss on Prop 8 in California on his election victory day, many were waiting for a silver lining to that cloud to be offered from the White House.

But clearly, he had overplayed his “benefit of the doubt” hand. The largely token acts of including some LGBT issues on the White House civil rights webpage, the inclusion of gay families in the White House Easter egg roll, and the presidential declaration of Pride month, left many waiting for something substantive to be offered. The power of the president's pen for an Executive Order ending DADT or expanding federal employee benefits for same sex partners seemed relatively straightforward, yet hugely significant.

Even our Secretary of State is making these efforts, first extending benefits to gay diplomats and yesterday offering the first step in repealing DOMA by allowing a same sex married couple to have their passports issued in their legally married names.

Obama lost some of his staunchest defenders last week, with the filing of the federal brief from his Department of Justice supporting the Defense of Marriage Act. Barney Frank, Joe Solmonese from the Human Rights Campaign, and Howard Dean on Rachel Maddow to name a few.

As yesterday's NYTimes Editorial said: "But busy calendars and political expediency are no excuse for making one group of Americans wait any longer for equal rights."