Admirable Women – The Real Trailblazers

25 02 2011

2008 brought a lot of attention to the role of women in the highest levels of elected office. That’s great – I’m all for furthering gender equity – but we got a bit caught up in how historic a moment it was for women. “Oh. My. God. A woman senator is running for President. A woman governor might be Vice President. Oh, we’re soooooo enlightened.” Yeah, not quite. We’d forgotten that we’ve seen women as governors and senators for a while now and we’d seen them running for President and be nominated as vice presidential candidates before too. Time to take a serious look at all the ’08 hype before we get buried in BS of 2012. I’m not trying to diminish the accomplishments of either of these women, but there are a few things that need clearing up.

Hillary Clinton was sworn in as the junior Senator from New York in 2001 and served in the Senate for 7 seven years until 2009 when she was asked to become Secretary of State by President Obama. So, she served a full term, was re-elected, and was then picked to fill a position within the incoming administration. Yes, that’s impressive. What it isn’t is unheard of – at least the different pieces of it aren’t. Let me explain.

  • Hattie Wyatt Caraway (D-AR), after serving in the Senate for a year to fill the seat left open by her husband’s death, won a special election in 1932 and became the first woman elected to the United States Senate. She won re-election in 1938, but lost the 1944 primary.
  • Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for the office of President of the United States… in 1872. Some say the she doesn’t count because her name was never on the ballot.
  • Ok, if you want to be one of those picky people, fine. Belva Ann Lockwood ran in 1884 and 1888. Her running mate in her first attempt also happened to be a woman.
  • Frances Perkins was the first woman to be appointed to a position in the US Cabinet. In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt named her Secretary of Labor, a position she held until 1945.
  • *In 1972, Shirley Chisholm (D-NY) became the first woman to get delegate votes at national convention for a major party. To date, six women have had that honor – Shirley  Chisholm in 1972, Barbara Jordan (D-TX) in 1976, Koryne Kaneski Horbal (D-MN) and Alice Tripp (D-MN?) in 1980, Martha Kirkland (D-AL?) in 1984, and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in 2008. * (Updated as promised.)

Hillary Clinton is admirable – she’s done a lot and I’ll get into that in another post – but not for being the first woman to run for president, or becoming a famous senator, or being asked to be a high-ranking official in a presidential administration because she wasn’t first. She’s the one that got the farthest along thus far, but there were many who came before her. She took the individual achievements others had attained and strung them all together in one ten-year period – a feat that in itself is admirable.

Sarah Palin has become not only a celebrity, but something close to a deity in the eyes of many of her supporters. I think any sort of rabid political fandom is a little misplaced – they write laws, not pop songs – but the Palin worshipers really take it to the next level not only in their devotion to the former Governor, but also in the level of their disdain for those who aren’t moved to support her no matter how rational or genuine their reasons for not doing so are. To fail to support Sarah Palin is, to many of her diehard fans, to reveal yourself as everything anti-American. Yeah, that’s crazy. So, what has she done. Well, in addition to being chosen by AZ senator John McCain to be his running mate in the 2008 presidential election – the event which propelled her into the national spotlight – she served as governor of Alaska from December of 2006 until her resignation in July of 2009. With the fuss that was made over her governorship and vice presidential nomination, you’d think it had never happened before. Well, it had.

  • Nellie Tayloe Ross (D-WY) and Miriam A. Ferguson (D-TX) both became governors in January, 1925. Mrs. Ross, sworn in of January 5th, succeeded her late husband.
  • Miriam A. Ferguson, sworn in on January 25th, succeeded her impeached husband. Her first term was plagued with allegations of corruption and she was defeated twice before winning a second two-year term in 1933. That term was also tainted by alleged corruption. (Might it have run in the family?)
  • The first woman to win a governor’s race without being previously connected to the office by marriage was Ella Grasso (D-CT) who was elected in 1975 and won re-election in 1978. She resigned in December of 1980 due to a worsening battle with ovarian cancer which she succumbed to several weeks later in February 1981.
  • At the time of the 2008 presidential race, Mrs. Palin was one of eight women serving as state governors.
  • The first woman to be chosen as a vice presidential running mate was Marietta Stow, the running mate of Belva Ann Lockwood in 1884.
  • The first woman to be nominated as a vice presidential candidate for one of the country’s major political parties was Geraldine Ferraro (D-NY)in 1984 when she was chosen by Walter Mondale to be his running mate.

Dismiss this all as “Palin Derangement Syndrome” if you will, but while there are some things about her life that are admirable, after comparing her to the other women who actually broke down barriers in politics, I’m not singing Mrs. Palin’s praises. She is also still rather young as far as politicians go, so she may yet accomplish something of merit, but for right now I remain highly unimpressed with the political career of the woman people are comparing to everyone from Washington, to Lincoln, to Jesus. Sorry!

There are many women who have done a lot with their lives before what they did was common or even accepted. Being politically involved and female is a combination that just came about four, or ten, or twenty years ago. We’ve just gotten better at it.

These are a couple other links.

A list of women presidential and vice presidential candidates , a list of women state governors, and a fact sheet about women in government as of 2011 from the Center for Women in Politics.

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“Great” Moments on Modern Politics – the Good, the Bad, and the WTF of Political Photos – Part 2 The Bad – Beach Bum Edition

16 04 2010

It about that time again – bathing suit buying time and as many of us contemplate that torturous dressing room experience, here’s a little slice of schadenfreude courtesy of those people we’ve elected to public office.

Richard Nixon

Because it’s so easy to laugh at Nixon.

Winner of the award for Best Forced Smile.

Barack Obama

He borrowed the secret service guy’s shades.

Tony Blair

Hiding in the foliage?

Vladimir Putin

It’s funnier when you consider how sexy he thinks he is.

Nicolas Sarkozy

The only photo in which he’s taller than his wife… sort of.

Ronald Reagan

To be fair, he had to be at least 70 when this was taken. What’s Putin’s excuse?

Bill and Hillary Clinton

This was a stroke of Presidential genius. Why? Well, I don’t believe that nobody knew someone was taking pictures. I don’t want somebody to be able to get that close without permission without being tackled by a half-dozen secret service guys. If both Clinton’s weren’t aware, at least the President must have known and I can see why he would think twice about telling his wife. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt him, right? Still, he knows he’s a little fluffy around the middle so he turns to a flattering angle and uses his wife as, essentially, a human shield for his less-than-fit physique. Honestly, what would the pundits prefer to discuss – his tummy or his wife’s butt. Well done, Mr. Clinton!

Dubya

And that’s the closest I ever want to come to finding a photo of Dubya in a swimsuit!





“Great” Moments in Modern Politics – the Good, the Bad, and the WTF of Political Photos – Part 1 The Good

18 03 2010

A politician’s image and appearance has been important ever since the 1960 “Great Debate” between JFK and Richard Nixon. Now we live in a world with a constant stream of news on every possible topic. More and more getting involved in politics means giving over nearly every aspect your life to the prying eyes and scrutinizing words of the public at large. Occasionally, a photo comes into existence, whether from an organized shoot or a well-timed candid, the makes you look so fabulous it almost hurts. Then there are those with make you wish to burn every copy of a newspaper within miles and somehow instigate a cable strike. Finally there are those rare gems that are so blatantly bad for your image that even you have to throw your head back and laugh because they are that funny.

Incidentally, yes this was meant to be one big post – the good, the bad, and the WTF – but there was too much good material out there. Trust me, it’ll be worth it. Also, I’m trying to be nice (for a change) and post at least one good picture of anyone I’m posting bad ones of later.

THE GOOD

Looking Like a Leader
Usually these photos involve flags, a sturdy and well-ornamented desk, official seals, government buildings, or some combination of those items. It works best if you’re really photogenic, but even if you’re not you might get one good one. I don’t really have much to snark at with these photos. Don’t worry. You won’t be without my witty repartee for long.


Barack Obama


Ronald Reagan


Bill Clinton


David Miliband, current UK Foreign Minister


Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State under George W. Bush


Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State


Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State under Bill Clinton


Rahm Emanuel


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (He always looks scary!)


George W. Bush – known on this blog as “Dubya”

Looking Like an Affable Everyman/woman
If you don’t necessarily have the camera’s love on your side that doesn’t mean that your political career is over – in fact it’s often said that politics is show business for ugly people – you just have to find your look. To be honest, the “everyman” or “everywoman” isn’t so much a look as it is a required persona. Think about it. Just look back at the 2008 presidential election and point out the “average” candidate. None of them were middle class by any stretch of the imagination. They’re all rather wealthy to one extent or another. Many had been in national politics for decades. None of them are average or “normal” and yet that is how they have to look, so they show off their spouses, children, and pets, get photographed in t-shirts, baseball caps, and jeans, and say and do thing they think the rest of us say and do – with varying degrees of success. Think of Michelle Obama’s (very successful) fist-bump. When in doubt, hold someone’s baby. That usually works and I’ve expounded upon here


Not much to say really. It’s adorable.


Talk about familial! Nancy Pelosi with her husband and her new grandchild. So sweet it could give you a cavity.


The presidents Bush leaving a small church after services with their wives.


This is Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. While he certainly doesn’t look like an “everyman”, he does look very affable.

What is it about a dog that makes the person with it look so much better than they otherwise would.

Joe Biden and his puppy make a much better picture than the Vice President does on his own.


Is Nixon actually smiling?! Maybe it’s just gas.

There’s a line one has to tread carefully with regards to taking pictures with one’s spouse because you want to appear loving, like Tony and Cherie Blair, and generally want to avoid looking too sexy…

unless your last name is Clinton, apparently.

That’s bordering on too hot for the evening news! I know now that it was taken by Harry Benson but I don’t remember when that picture came out, so when I found it, it took me a minute to figure who was in the picture. I still have trouble believing that woman is Hillary Clinton.

I found this picture from 2004 vaguely reminiscent though (thankfully) far less deserving of a “Do not disturb” sign.

And there they go again. What’s stranger yet is that they’re either like this or awkwardly patting each other on the shoulder.

Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni are known for being very affectionate in public, but they are also French, so I think the rules of political PDA are different for them. This shot is very nice.

Commander and Chief
Visiting military personnel makes most politicians look good.


That’s Gordon Brown, current UK Prime Minister.


This is Angela Merkel, current Chancellor of Germany.


Yes, this is a bit older than the photos I usually use, but it’s a bit of family history. My dad was one of the sailors there. I’m not sure if he’s in the shot or not – I’ll have to ask him. I just thought it was cool.

It’s All About the Beauty of the Moment
Occasionally, some photographer will come along and, even if you are not in the least bit photogenic, they will work their magic and you will look fabulous. Sometimes it’s a big moment, a state dinner or something, but sometimes it’s just the way the light hits you. When something like this happens there is nothing to do but thank your lucky stars.


Bill Clinton is a man who tends to fairly look good in photos. His wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, does not share his luck in that department and never has. She usually looks mediocre at best, but it’s not all bad news though because, when she does take a good photo, it’s a really good one.


I love this so much about this shot – the candles, the lighting, the serene yet intense look she has on her face. It’s really lovely. This one it good, too. She looks so young in this picture. If I hadn’t found it today, I’d have thought in was from her time as First Lady.


This was all about the moment and the words. Ronald McDonald could have been there and it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference as long as the speech was the same.


Think what you want to about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but that picture is great.


What is it with Joe Biden? He can even get Hillary Clinton to loosen up… a little. Can’t we put that skill to use for the good of humankind?


This is current British Foreign Minister David Miliband. I think he’s kind of cute in a nerdy way so, since it’s my blog, I’m posting another picture of him.

I like him better with glasses. Just my opinion.

It’s usually a good thing to stand out in a crowd and a few politicians, usually women, take that quite literally.

Secretary Clinton

Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister of Ukraine
Sometimes the guys do get in on the act, though.

US President Barack Obama, Italian President Silvio Berlusconi, and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev definitely stand out.


These are just good shots.


She looks tough, but tough is good sometimes. I’ve got a list of world leaders to whom this picture should be emailed to.


It looks like Chancellor Merkel “gets” the modern art in this exhibit in honor of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s always good to look like you “get” it.


Remember how I said that there was a saying about politics being show business for ugly people. Well, it’s not just for ugly people. This is former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

and this is former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin.


It blows my mind that Nancy Pelosi is pushing 70 and her husband’s around that age too. Even with some surgical assistance, it’s hard to believe.


One shot where he looks more like a leader and less like a character on That Mitchell and Webb Look

Black & White
Sometimes a black and white photo can make you look better than any color one can.


Yes, black and white can make you look great…

… but it can’t work miracles. Yeah, I’ve had enough of being nice, it’s time to laugh at these people.