A speechwriter for Obama, Edwards, and Clinton on why she's voting McCain.
Since I started writing speeches more than ten years ago, I have always believed in the Democratic Party. Not anymore. Not after the election of 2008. This transformation has been swift and complete and since I'm a woman writing in the election of 2008, "very emotional."
When I entered this campaign, it was at the 2006 Edwards staff Christmas party. My nametag read "Millie Worker." When former Senator John Edwards read it, he laughed and said, "That makes you like my parent." He went on to say, "Would you please come down to Chapel Hill so we can talk about what's coming up." I sat in John and Elizabeth's living room for two and half hours. I left North Carolina, energized about politics for the first time in months.
Not only has this party belittled working people in this campaign, it has also been part of tearing down two female candidates.
I didn't hear from anyone for three weeks.
When I finally received the official offer, it was the kind of political offer that said, "Go away." That happens. It's their campaign and I just assumed that I had been pushed out. The problem was that I had canceled a number of freelance writing jobs because I had assumed that when John said, "Start right away" I would. I needed a job right away and so I took the one in front of me with Senator Barack Obama.
When we first met, Obama and I had a nice conversation about speeches and writing, and at the end of the meeting I handed him a pocket-sized bottle of Grey Poupon mustard so he wouldn't have to ask staff if it was okay to put it on his hamburger. At the bottom of the bottle was the logo for "The South Beach Diet" and he snapped, "Oh so you read People magazine." He seemed to think that I was commenting on his bathing suit picture.
I helped with his announcement speech and others. I worked in the Senate when he was in D.C. One day after a hearing on Darfur, we were walking back to the office. I was still hobbling from a very bad ankle injury and in a very kind and gentle way he offered his arm when we approached the stairs. But later in debate preps and phone conversations and meetings, I realized that I had made a mistake. I didn't belong. No matter how hard I tried, my heart wasn't in it anymore.
See campaigns get complicated when you've written for so many Democrats. Not only had I written for Senator Edwards, but I had also been Senator Hillary Clinton's speechwriter. Senator Joe Biden is a "good looking" man and his care after my father almost died from an aneurysm is the kind of kindness you never forget. When I saw Edwards at a traffic light in D.C. about a year after our meeting, he asked for help and I did and it was an honor to help him with his concession speech. And when the primary ended, it was a privilege to help Michelle Obama with a stump speech, be considered as a speechwriter for the V.P. nominee again, and send friends in Chicago ideas until the financial crisis hit. This is what the Democratic Party has been for me; it's family. Now, it doesn't even feel like a distant cousin.
This drift started on a personal level with the fall of former Senator John Edwards. It got stronger during the Democratic National Convention when I counted the substantive mentions of poverty on one hand and a whole bunch of bad canned partisan lines against Senator John McCain. Some faith was lifted after Senator Hillary Clinton's grace during a difficult hour. But that faith was dashed when I saw that someone had raided the Caligula set and planted the old columns at Invesco Field.
The final straw came the other week when Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher (a.k.a Joe the Plumber) asked a question about higher taxes for small businesses. Instead of celebrating his aspirations, they were mocked. He wasn't "a real plumber," and "They're fighting for Joe the Hedge-Fund manager," and the patronizing, "I've got nothing but love for Joe the Plumber."
Having worked in politics, I know that absolutely none of this is on the level. This back and forth is posturing, a charade, and a political game. These lines are what I refer to as "hooker lines"-a sure thing to get applause and the press to scribble as if they're reporting meaningful news.
As the nation slouches toward disaster, the level of political discourse is unworthy of this moment in history. We have Republicans raising Ayers and Democrats fostering ageism with "erratic" and jokes about Depends. Sexism. Racism. Ageism and maybe some Socialism have all made their ugly cameos in election 2008. It's not inspiring. Perhaps this is why I found the initial mocking of Joe so offensive and I realized an old line applied: "I didn't leave the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party left me."
The party I believed in wouldn't look down on working people under any circumstance. And Joe the Plumber is right. This is the absolutely worst time to raise taxes on anyone: the rich, the middle class, the poor, small businesses and corporations.
Our economy is in the tank for many complicated reasons, especially because people don't have enough money. So let them keep it. Let businesses keep it so they can create jobs and stay here and weather this storm. And yet, the Democratic ideology remains the same. Our approach to problems-big government solutions paid for by taxing the rich and big and smaller companies-is just as tired and out of date as trickle down economics. How about a novel approach that simply finds a sane way to stop the bleeding?
That's not exactly the philosophy of a Democrat. Not only has this party belittled working people in this campaign from Joe the Plumber to the bitter comments, it has also been part of tearing down two female candidates. At first, certain Democrats and the press called Senator Clinton "dishonest." They went after her cleavage. They said her experience as First Lady consisted of having tea parties. There was no outrage over "Bros before Hoes" or "Iron My Shirt." Did Senator Clinton make mistakes? Of course. She's human.
But here we are about a week out and it's déjà vu all over again. Really, front-page news is how the Republican National Committee paid for Governor Sarah Palin's wardrobe? Where's the op-ed about how Obama tucks in his shirt when he plays basketball or how Senator Biden buttons the top button on his golf shirt?
Oh right, this story goes to the sincerity of her Hockey Mom persona. What planet am I living on? Everyone knows that when it comes to appearance, there's a double standard for women politicians. Remember the speech Speaker Pelosi gave on the floor the day of the bailout vote? Check out how many stories commented on her hair that day and how many mentioned Congressman Barney Frank's.
Here we are discussing Governor Palin's clothes-oh wait, now we're on to the make-up-not what either man is going to do to save our economy. This isn't an accident. It is part of a manufactured narrative that she is stupid.
Governor Palin and I don't agree on a lot of things, mostly social issues. But I have grown to appreciate the Governor. I was one of those initial skeptics and would laugh at the pictures. Not anymore. When someone takes on a corrupt political machine and a sitting governor, that is not done by someone with a low I.Q. or a moral core made of tissue paper. When someone fights her way to get scholarships and work her way through college even in a jagged line, that shows determination and humility you can't learn from reading Reinhold Niebuhr. When a mother brings her son with special needs onto the national stage with love, honesty, and pride, that gives hope to families like mine as my older brother lives with a mental disability. And when someone can sit on a stage during the Sarah Palin rap on Saturday Night Live, put her hands in the air and watch someone in a moose costume get shot-that's a sign of both humor and humanity.
Has she made mistakes? Of course, she's human too. But the attention paid to her mistakes has been unprecedented compared to Senator Obama's "57 states" remarks or Senator Biden using a version of the Samuel Johnson quote, "There's nothing like a hanging in the morning to focus a man's thoughts."
But thank God for election 2008. We can talk about the wardrobe and make-up even though most people don't understand the details about Senator Obama's plan with Iraq. When he says, "all combat troops," he's not talking about all troops-it leaves a residual force of as large as 55,000 indefinitely. That's not ending the war; that's half a war.
I was dead wrong about the surge and thought it would be a disaster. Senator John McCain led when many of us were ready to quit. Yet we march on as if nothing has changed, wedded to an old plan, and that too is a long way from the Democratic Party.
I can no longer justify what this party has done and can't dismiss the treatment of women and working people as just part of the new kind of politics. It's wrong and someone has to say that. And also say that the Democratic Party's talking points-that Senator John McCain is just four more years of the same and that he's President Bush-are now just hooker lines that fit a very effective and perhaps wave-winning political argument.doesn't mean they're true. After all, he is the only one who's worked in a bipartisan way on big challenges.
Before I cast my vote, I will correct my party affiliation and change it to No Party or Independent. Then, in the spirit of election 2008, I'll get a manicure, pedicure, and my hair done. Might as well look pretty when I am unemployed in a city swimming with "D's."
Whatever inspiration I had in Chapel Hill two years ago is gone. When people say how excited they are about this election, I can now say, "Maybe for you. But I lost my home."
Everywhere I stump, I state that there are no women on paper money. Well a gentleman was quick to point out that there is a woman on a quarter. He was right. Helen Keller is on the back of the quarter from Alabama. Note it is a Red State. I scrolled through all 50 quarters and she was the only woman I found. Guess how many men are on the backs of those quarters? By my count an even dozen. Let's celebrate Helen, the spirit of courage.
From the U.S. Mint --- Alabama
The Alabama quarter is the second quarter of 2003, and the 22nd in the 50 State Quarters® Program. Alabama became the 22nd state to be admitted into the Union on December 14, 1819. The Alabama quarter design features an image of Helen Keller with her name in English, and in a reduced-size version of braille. The Alabama quarter is the first U.S. circulating coin to feature braille. An Alabama long leaf pine branch and magnolias grace the sides of the design, and a "Spirit of Courage" banner underlines the central image.
Helen Keller was born at "Ivy Green" in Tuscumbia, Alabama, in 1880. When she was a small child, an illness destroyed her sight and hearing and, consequently, depriving her of the senses by which we normally learn to speak. Despite her disabilities, Helen Keller learned to speak and read using the raised and manual alphabets, as well as Braille. Miss Keller also graduated with honors, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree from Radcliffe. She went on to publish numerous books, articles and essays. Helen Keller lived out her life addressing social issues for disabled persons and women. Every year at "Ivy Green," a weeklong celebration is held to commemorate her lifetime of accomplishments and her "Spirit of Courage."
In January 2001, Governor Don Siegelman announced a statewide competition for Alabama schools to submit concepts for the Alabama quarter. Of the thousands of concepts submitted, Governor Siegelman forwarded three to the United States Mint: Helen Keller, Alabama's role in social movements, and Alabama's social and economic history. The United States Mint returned five candidate designs to the Governor's office where the final selection of Helen Keller, "Spirit of Courage," was made.
HENDERSON, Nev. — Speaking at a boisterous rally near Las Vegas, Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, on Tuesday sharply attacked Sen. Barack Obama as a faux feminist, criticizing him for not choosing Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate and accusing him of paying the women who work on his Senate staff less than their male colleagues.
Ms. Palin spoke flanked by female supporters she described as members of the Democratic platform committee and the National Organization for Women. She took a strongly feminist tack throughout, criticizing practices such as honor killings in the Muslim world as well as inequities closer to home and singling out female owners of small businesses, especially one she described as “Irma the Restaurant Owner.”
“Our opponents think they have the women’s vote all locked up, which is a little presumptuous since only our side has a woman on the ticket,” she said. She added, referring to Mr. Obama: “When it came time for choosing a vice president, somehow he couldn’t bring himself to choose a woman who got 18 million votes in the primaries.”
Ignoring her differences with leading feminist groups over issues such as abortion, Ms. Palin presented herself as a feminist pioneer. She referred favorably not only to Mrs. Clinton but also to former Representative Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 1984, and wondered out loud why 24 years had elapsed before another woman was put on a national ticket.
“Are you ready to break the highest glass ceiling in America?” she asked. “It’s about time we shattered that glass ceiling for once and for all,” she added, as the crowd chanted her name.
Without directly calling Mr. Obama a hypocrite, she accused him of not practicing what he preaches. She referred to information that she said shows that women in Mr. Obama’s office earn only 83 percent of the wages paid to male employees, a salary difference that she estimated at $5,000 a year. “What’s with that?” she asked.
“I know one senator who actually does pay women equally,” she continued, referring to Sen. John McCain, her running mate. “That’s something I admire about John McCain,” she said. “He’s not someone who makes excuses.”
Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to the Obama campaign, dismissed the criticism.
“Senator Obama has fought for equal pay for an equal day’s work, while Senator McCain has suggested that women don’t get equal pay because they need more education and training,” Ms. Dunn said in a statement. “While Senator Obama has proposed a plan to help working women, the McCain-Palin campaign offers just more negative attacks and distortions.”
ROME (AP) -- Catholic women seeking to become priests denounced the church's ban on female ordination as sexist and unjust, bringing their campaign close to the Vatican on Wednesday during a worldwide gathering of bishops.
The small group of women representing Catholic organizations from around the world marched across the Tiber River close to St. Peter's Square, some wearing signs with the names of prominent women in the early days of the Roman Catholic Church.
''Ordain Women! Ordain Women!'' the woman chanted. They later tried to deliver a petition to the Swiss Guards at the Vatican, but nobody came to pick it up.
Aisha Taylor, the executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference in the United States, said the women wanted to call attention to the issue during the synod, a meeting of 253 bishops under way.
But the Vatican is not likely to drop its long-standing prohibition on women in the priesthood.
In May, the Vatican insisted that it is properly following Christian tradition by excluding women from the priesthood and issued a new warning that women taking part in ordinations will be excommunicated.
The church has always banned the ordination of women by stating that the priesthood is reserved for men. The decree issued in May was explicit in its reference to women.
Pope Benedict XVI led the doctrinal office before becoming pontiff in 2005. Like his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, he has consistently rebuffed calls to change traditional church teachings on divorce, abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage and the requirement that priests be male and celibate.
Taylor conceded that no discussion on women's ordination was likely to open -- and certainly not at the synod, a gathering convened by the pope when he deems necessary, and devoted this time to discussing the relevance of the Bible for contemporary Catholics.
Taylor did take the presence of 25 women, either as observers or experts, at the synod as a mildly encouraging sign. But -- with the women representing just 10 percent of the synod and none having a vote -- she said it was not enough.
''The exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave injustice in our church ... (and) a blatant example of sexism,'' she told reporters in Rome. ''Even though leaders have come out saying no, and it's over and over again, I do believe that cannot continue for too many decades.''
The Vatican's firmness on the issue has dashed the hopes of women seeking to be priests but also of Catholics who see that as an option for a church struggling to recruit men. It has also raised fears that women might abandon the Roman Catholic Church for other branches of Christianity that allow female priesthood.
In March, the archbishop of St. Louis excommunicated three women -- two Americans and a South African -- for participating in a woman's ordination. They were part of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement, which began in 2002.
Are you sick of these lying politicians? Are you tired of picking up the newspaper just to find more vile personal insults of female politicians? Are you worried about the economy and furious that we’re in this mess? Are you so angry and upset you could SCREAM?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, you are hardly alone. The country is going through a real rough patch and we need to be there for one another.
Ophelia is here to listen and understand – not judge. Ophelia, just like you, is pissed off and needs to vent. So, can we talk? Can we share our stories? Can we try to make each other feel a little better?
The New Agenda is proud to announce our first BlogTalkRadio show, Chewing the Fat with Ophelia, Monday night, October 13, at 10pm EST.
This is a new kind of radio: internet podcasting. The “radio” is your computer — all you have to do is go to the website when the show is scheduled to start, and the show will play right there on your computer screen. (You do have to have your computer speakers turned on!) There’s also a telephone number for you to call in and talk to the host or ask a question, just like with traditional radio shows: (347) 324-5942. Plus, there’s a chat room feature too, so you can “chat” with other listeners while you’re listening to the show. And if you miss the live broadcast, a recording of the program is automatically stored right there on the page so you can listen to it later.
We’ve been reading the emails and comments from around the country and it’s clear: people want and need to vent! Call in and tell Ophelia what you’re feeling. Sisters need to help sisters in this difficult time.
Our first show is Monday, October 13, 2008, from 10pm to 11pm EST. The call-in number is (347) 324-5942. Join us!
We should also mention that Ophelia knows a thing or two about the economy. If there’s something that you have heard or read, and you don’t understand it, ask Ophelia. C’mon, admit it – you don’t know what a mortgage security is either….
by Nairoby Otero How could I miss the signs that I was being raised in a world that didn’t consider me an equal? I am a 26 year-old woman that has never experienced sexism. I am a 26 year-old woman that has never been told, “You cannot do this because you are a girl”. I am a 26 year-old woman whose gender has never been a threat in my profession. I was raised by parents who insisted that my sister and I played sports instead of taking ballet classes for fear that we would grow up and think we could not compete as adults in a man’s world. This progressive upbringing in the 1980s/90s continued when I attended my alma mater, Cabrini High School, named after St. Frances Cabrini, the first woman to establish a missionary order of women. She was penniless, alone, and couldn’t speak English; however, she pioneered the building of schools, hospitals, clinics, and orphanages around the world. My Alma mater’s mantra reads, “Stand Among Great Women”. Everywhere I have ever turned throughout my life I have been surrounded by powerful women who exceeded their own gender’s expectations. Living in the company of such incredible role models and principles, why wasn’t I warned that women do not necessarily take care of their own gender? Recently, I received a text message from an acquaintance, a fellow 26 year-old woman who wrote, “Haven’t talked to you in awhile, figured you were in hiding as a result of Sarah Palin being chosen as a VP candidate”. (I was a Hillary Clinton supporter.) I responded to her text message, “Palin doesn’t bother me. I’m voting for McCain/Palin. Want to get dinner next week?” She responded, “You’re kidding me right?! She’s an abomination to women! Spit on her!” “Spit on her” struck a chord with me that I cannot shake off. Has my generation come so far as women that in the process we have lost respect for one another? I have been trying ever since to understand why this comment has resonated so deeply with me when I realized that I had been living in a blissful word of ignorance. My generation often referred to as Generation Y; (I prefer the generation of entitlement), has yet to experience something so monumental that it has threatened our rights in a way that has frightened our existence; therefore, we have never fought our own battles and expect our parents to protect us. The women of the Baby Boomer generation have given me the majority of my rights as a woman, but why is it that a large percentage of these very women seem to have forgotten the struggle that they endured? I see some of these very women attacking other women on TV, in newspapers, and in coffee shops. Are women officially tired of fighting? Is it easier to just accept the status quo that we will always be second? Their generation has fought for so long, that it would be a travesty for my generation of entitlement to not pick up the torch that has been left burning for over 30 years, and lead. The question then becomes: Is there an entitled woman who has the guts to take the first stance? Every woman in every age group that cannot say, “I disagree with ‘Betty’ because of x, y, and z”, but instead chooses to belittle the woman by saying, “Spit on her”, is the cause of our lack of solidarity. Women will never rise higher than where we are at home or at the work place unless women across this country identify that we are the cause of our own oppression. We are the ones to blame. How can we demand equal representation at work or in government when we are the first to humiliate one another? “Spit on her” did not affect me because it was a jab at a political figure; it hurt me because it came from a woman who cannot seem to put politics aside and recognize that a sister has set a new bar of power and success for every young girl watching. In questioning why women are quick to tear one another down, I got the perspective of a male friend. I posed the question, “Why is it that men truly understand the word ‘fraternity’ and will look out for one another?” When I asked him this question, I assumed very foolishly that he would need a moment to think about his response, but instead without hesitation he answered. His response came in comparing the greater number of male professors versus female professors at the university level across the country. He believes that women are experiencing what he calls “power envy” among their own gender. A phrase he defined as “an envy that occurs when one has worked hard for their current position only to watch another gain the same position without an equitable amount of ‘hard work’”. He also explained that today, when a hard-working woman enters the education field, her corporate climb is, by comparison to her female predecessors, a much easier one. As a result, the women who are already at the pinnacle of the educational level, having fought for their place at the top, become envious that this younger generation is having it easy. Instead of holding their sister’s hand, they let go. He then explained that men, on the other hand, have always been at levels of prominence in both their domestic and professional lives. Helping another man is not threatening because, whether they help or not, they will still be at the executive level. Which brings me back to, how could I possibly miss the signs that I was being raised in a world that didn’t consider me an equal? Perhaps my parents went wrong in teaching my sister and me that we were free as young girls. My parents are Cuban immigrants who fled to America, because here we are all created equal. Nah, it’s not my parent’s fault they taught me to dream and become successful. Perhaps the fault lies on the schools I attended for teaching me that being a young woman would never hinder me. Nah, it cannot be my school’s fault; I went to an all girls high school founded by a woman who has a shrine in Philadelphia. Perhaps it is the women of the Baby Boomer generation for making it easy for us to take for granted the liberties we have been born into. Nah, it is not their fault they are the reason I am writing this; they have inspired a nation of women. The culprits of my awakening are none other than my sisters who have taken me out of my bliss of ignorance. I miss the time when I thought everything was okay for me as a woman because my sisters would always have “my back”.
Since this realization I find myself mourning my gender.
I mourn for thinking that women understood that only we could take care of one another because if we don’t, who will?
I mourn for thinking that in America, I was at an equal playing level as men.
I mourn for the lack of courage across this nation from my sisters who have yet to step up and scream, “Enough is enough!”
As I allow myself time to mourn what seems to be the loss of sisterhood, I will remind myself how powerful I have felt these last 26 years, living in my bliss of ignorance. This has given me the courage to dare and compete in a man’s world not knowing I was a minority. It is my desire that when I wake up from mourning, that all my sisters across this country will too wake and join me in continuing the empowerment of our gender. We do this by simply putting one another on a pedestal, asking ourselves where we lack representation, and then following through by reshaping our role, and by taking responsibility when we are not treating one another with dignity.
In the meantime let me pretend that I can go back to my bliss of ignorance.
Have you registered for the National Organization for Women-NYS Annual Convention & New Activist Training & Leadership Institute in Seneca Falls, NY?
On November 7-9, 2008 we will be at the birthplace of the women’s movement and the First Women’s Rights Convention in 1848.We will celebrate the 160th Anniversary!
Informative and Exciting Workshops!
Attendees will be shuttled to the 1st Presbyterian Church where Alice Paul first proposed the Equal Rights Amendment.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Ellie Smeal speak at this historic location.
Senator Hillary Clinton is invited!
Other exciting speakers are:
Olga Vives, Executive VP of National NOW
Abby Ellin, Author of Waistland
Martha Burk, Author of Your Money and Your Life
JudyWellman, Author of The Road to Seneca Falls
Barbara W. DeBaptiste, Immediate Past President, and Beth Quillen Thomas, Current President of Board of the Directors for the National Women's Hall of Fame
We will be hosting a special luncheon to honor
Muriel Fox, Founding Mother of NOW
Honorable Deborah Glick, NYS Assemblymember
On Saturday night, the Women’s Hall of Fame and NOW-NYS will Co-sponsor a Reception and Dance where we will party to “Lady Operator” an all woman DJ team! And we will hear Sandy Rapp, feminist performer and author, as she sings some of her great feminist songs.