March 11, 2009 / Uncategorized

The Daily Beast: Is Valerie Jarrett Anti-Woman?

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The New Agenda’s Amy Siskind wrote the following piece that was published in The Daily Beast.  Many excerpts were comments taken from The New Agenda blog.
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President Obama’s choice to lead the newly created White House Council on Women and Girls has done virtually nothing to advance women’s rights. We should support her anyway.

Today President Obama signed an executive order creating a White House Council on Women and Girls. The President’s Council will have as its mandate: “To provide a coordinated federal response to the challenges confronted by women and girls to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies consider how their policies and programs impact women and families.” Women should be cheering, right? Not so fast. Why are so many feminists up in arms about the choice of Valerie Jarrett to chair the Council?

One comment on our blog read: My concern with Valerie Jarrett is that I don’t think she has been “kicked to the curb” enough.

For many women, even the mention of Valerie Jarrett is feminist dynamite. Jarrett was among President Obama’s inner circle during the 2008 Presidential Campaign—a campaign which took down two promising female candidates along the way. Forgive and forget? Not for many women on both sides of the aisle. Somehow this pick by President Obama has stepped smack dab into the middle of one of the most argued notions of the current women’s rights movement: Can a woman who does not support other women be a feminist?

I wrote a piece for The New Agenda blog last night after seeing my email inbox fill with angry protests about President Obama’s selection of Jarrett. The grounds for their dismay were many, and the comments are raw and telling. First and foremost was the notion that Jarrett is perceived to be a major villain in the plot to bring down then Senator Clinton and Governor Palin: Did Jarrett stand up when Obama was using sexism, when the democratic party was and the media was throwing mud and spitting in our faces? No she did not. Second, feminists ask: Where’s the beef? Show me something, I mean anything, on Jarrett’s resume that demonstrates the vaguest commitment to women’s rights: I’ve been trying to find the answer to this question myself. Can anyone point to any work Jarrett has done to advance women’s equality?Third, Jarrett is still linked to the Chicago style scandals that plague politicians from that city (some rightfully and some wrongfully): She does have her detractors, and is a highly or lowly regarded slum landlady from Chicago. And finally, women feel that Jarrett is not in touch with our needs. One comment on our blog read: My concern with Valerie Jarrett is that I don’t think she has been “kicked to the curb” enough to understand the depth and breadth of the problems that women in this country face.

See the rest of the story at The Daily Beast

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  • How can you agrue that Valerie has not been kicked to curb enough? She is a high power women who is used to working in a male dominated field. Trust she must have had her share of kicks. My goodness people are acting as if supported hiliary is a litmus test for being a feminst. Oh and about the whole slumlady thing, the clintions are exactly completey clean of scandals either.

  • yttik

    Well, there are different levels of support. I’m not going to oppose her. I’ll be happy to recognize Valerie Jarrett when she actually does something for women and girls in her new role.

    Frankily I’ve had enough of being asked to support people before they actually do anything. I had enough of that during the campaign. To me it’s gotten a bit irrational, do you support this person who has no record of accomplishments in this area? Well, if they don’t have a track record, what am I supposed to base my opinions on? Hope?

  • MaryL

    Here is an excerpt from the Couric/Jarrett interview:

    Katie Couric: You’ve also said it’s always going to be harder as a woman. I’m just curious if you saw evidence of that in the primary process and your thoughts on how Hillary Clinton was treated?

    Valerie Jarrett: That was a hard journey, and, you know, she took a lot of hits along the way – many times she was treated very unfairly. But she persevered. And so in that sense because it was harder, her accomplishment is even greater.
    —————————————————————————————-
    Well, so Jarrett did take note of how Hillary was treated—I don’t recall her speaking out against it at the time.
    Instead she speaks of degrees of difficulty. Sounds like she is big on “psychological income.”
    Maybe we women should be proud to make 78 cents on the dollar. It’s harder for us women, but the “accomplishment” means SO much more….

  • So are you recommending that we can support Jarrett because her best chance to make improvements for women is if she has smart, experienced women around her and advising her? Sounds reasonable — even more reasonalble if she has shown some lapses in the past. Maybe we can help her grow into leadership.

  • I am extremely puzzled as to Obama’s strategy — and Amy’s.

    Obama’s choice of Jarrett will be taken as a slap in the face by many people he needs to conciliate, and will not give him extra help with the women who already support him; for them, any woman would have done, particularly one with some credits in the field.

    Amy’s statement is like giving the milk away in hopes of getting something, sometime…. Even if she planned (for some reason) to give Jarrett some ‘support’, why not stretch it out, using it as a hook for several press releases? Begin by applauding the creation of the council, then ask Jarrett for her record and statements, then finally give a decision about her.

    Also, Amy is giving a slap in the fact to the Hillary supporters here. To gain what, and from whom? Why not remain neutral, or at least more tactful?

  • bruce nahin

    If, as Sec of State Madeline Albright said” Hell has a place reserved for women who do not support women” is correct than Jarrett has a place reserved…shame on her for the attacks on Clinton and Palin and her not coming to their defense or stopping te attacks ffrom coming from the campaign in which she was in the inner circle

  • Karen

    “I am extremely puzzled as to Obama’s strategy — and Amy’s”

    Flora, I am equally puzzled. The Council of Women and Girls sounds too vague to me. And given Obama’s history of treating women, what exactly does he consider women’s issues?

    I do not believe New Agenda should support women who are anti-women. It sends a mixed signal at best.

  • I think what’s happening with the Jarrett division is a matter of those who are looking at the forest and those who are looking at the trees. It is intellectually consistent to support Jarrett anyway as Amy has done, especially when getting more women, any women, in leadership/political positions is paramount to our cause. I agree with her assessment entirely, and I’ve never been a fan of Jarrett’s.

    This really ties in with what Cynthia said this morning about getting beyond the grievances of last year in that fabulous post of hers on getting to work. Not getting over, getting beyond. We know what we saw was real, and thus what we felt was real. We can keep licking those wounds, or we can get proactive and make it happen.

    Who isn’t impatient to make it happen? The question then is how productive is opposing this appointment? Almost any woman will make a difference, whether they want to or not. This is well established in Maloney’s book. Instead of looking at it from that old “politics is personal” frame, which got us nowhere, I wish more women could see the benefit of supporting other women regardless of whether or not they personally or politically agree with them. (Speaking specifically of the American political mainstream scene, ftr; I don’t expect anyone to support, for instance, a female White Power or a militant fascist candidate)

    I’ve seen a lot of good feminists get bogged down in issues that narrowly pertain to them. We need to recognize that we can celebrate our differences and still realize that, at the end of the day, it is our vaginas and the oppression we all suffer as a result of them that binds us together. I know that sounds terribly second wave, but whatever. They had some good ideas.

    Sorry to ramble, but I’ve been thinking about this particular topic for a few months now.

  • BTW, I’m bothered by that “kicked to the curb” quote. I’ve been noticing this trend of prizing victimhood emerge in our culture for a while now, and now it is positively cool in some cases to be a victim (see eminem). It equals a unique–and thus valuable to the exclusion of others–point of view. But in our case, all women, even Jarrett, has been victimized, if only by the lopsided masculine point of view that dominates our culture, and to which we are all subjected via our education. This measuring of degrees of suffering as a way to valuate contribution has got to go. It’s hurting our ability to make progress.

  • Madeline

    I’ve seen that quote from Madeline Albright about a place in hell for certain women.

    Did Madeline Albright support Palin? I highly doubt it, although if someone can tell me otherwise, please do. It eminently logical to be angry and upset at the sexist attacks Clinton and Palin faced.

    It does not make sense to make supporting a female candidate–even when you personally believe that in this particular case, the male candidate happens to be better qualified–a litmus test for feminism, or for who is worthy to speak on women’s issues. It is not reasonable, logical, or polite to declare that any woman who did not choose to support Clinton or Palin deserves a place in hell or is otherwise a traitor to her gender.

  • Madeline

    Sorry, that should be “It is eminently logical…”

  • People seem to be talking as though the choice were between Jarrett and some man! As though Jarrett were the only woman that Obama might even consider appointing, thus we have to ‘support the woman.’

    There are literally millions of women who have qualifications as good or better than Jarrett’s (even if we did not consider her performance this year a mark against her).

    Do you think that if there were an outcry against Jarrett, Obama would take his Council and go home?

  • marille

    very well put statements by previous commenters.
    the president had to give his good old friend something after she could not get the senate seat. with the Blago spectacle. so he catches two flies on one swat. valerie jarrett gets something and we get a commission which nobody in their fair mind will expect to produce results. of course she can learn, but the top positions are usually not there to learn but to have clear policies and be to be able to get going from the start.
    anybody know her position re equal rights for women?
    any ideas about equal representation?
    any plans how to combat hate crimes against women?
    any plans for policies toward education of girls that they can reach their full potential or reach for the stars?
    what about fair paycheck act?

    so much needs to be done. remember Elizabeth Cady Stanton starting in 1848 and a few years later with Susan B Anthony campaigned so strong for the inclusion of women in the 15th amendment. and we still in 2009 are not considered citizens worthy of equal rights by our constitution.

    just as Yttik said, we should base our expectation on hope?
    what if the president and his inner male circle sit around with a broad grin, complimenting each other how they gave these feminists who bark up the tree of sexism their council. wouldn’t that fit to what we saw last year?

  • Adrienne Grey

    You know, Valerie Jarrett may not be anti-women — in the same careless, undiscerning way that most men and too many women are not. She may fit right in with that vast ilk who seem genuinely puzzled by the idea that if you’re not actively working to oppose the male dominance apparatus, you’re tacitly supporting it. People who proudly report that gender means nothing to them, as long as “the best candidate” gets the job. People who swear that they look forward to a having a woman president — just, please, not a bitch like [fill-in-the-blank]. People like Ms. Jarrett’s boss, who can solemnly council that “we need to ask ourselves some hard questions” about women’s’ inequality, after he’s just filled 20 cabinet appointments with only 5 women.

    No, Valerie Jarrett may not be anti-woman. The problem is that there’s no evidence whatever that she’s pro-woman. And when you’re tasked with heading up a White House Council that looks out for the interests of women and girls, that’s kind of important.

    *****A

  • Fannie

    Are you alright Amy? You sound desperate, find yourself a couch and lay down. In the best interest of your well being call Valerie
    Jarrett!

  • TB

    Excellent article, Amy. Don’t let those who see TNA as a vehicle for stoking the flames of their bitterness keep you from being fair and CONSTRUCTIVE. The 56% of women voters who voted for Obama should feel welcome here too, which will only help TNA accomplish it’s goals. The 56% of women voters who voted for Obama should not be disqualified from working for feminist causes and the advancement of women. And that includes Valarie Jarrett, who occupies a position which none of the Presidents of the last four decades saw fit to create before now (and that includes Bill Clinton).

  • Adrienne,

    Yes, ‘anti-woman’ seems a straw man. 🙂

    But even if she were pro-woman, there are many women with a background in those issues, thus likely to do a better job. And without Jarrett’s Chicago baggage, and (at least) a quarter of the nation’s informed women having cause to distrust her.

    Why is he naming (and Amy supporting) someone with so many strikes against her, when there are so many more qualified and more credible women available?

  • Adrienne Grey

    Flora wrote: “Why is he naming (and Amy supporting) someone with so many strikes against her, when there are so many more qualified and more credible women available?”

    Exactly. Mind you, I wouldn’t say I don’t support her, assuming she wants my support. Nor do I blame her for being Obama’s choice. I’m just sorry that, like every one of 5 cabinet picks that should have been women and weren’t, this is yet another missed opportunity to bend the arc toward justice.

    And what’s that they say about justice delayed?

    *****A

  • Adrienne,

    Perhaps the word ‘support’ is being used in different senses in these threads.

    1. People can say “She is a bad choice, she should pull out and Obama choose someone else.” — IE, that we don’t support her getting the post, we don’t support Obama choosing her.

    2. Or some might say “If she does have the job I will never give her any information she might ask for or help her do the job or defend her job actions that might deserve defense, etc.”

    3. Or, “I won’t defend her conduct in the campaign, her background as slum lord, her personal character, etc.”

  • Sheryl Robinson, Editrix

    It’s interesting to me that we criticize the appointment of Valerie Jarrett far more than we did most — perhaps all — of the men Obama appointed to cabinet.

    This is the trap we keep falling into: women won’t support women because no woman is good enough.

    We just won’t give women a break. Not all of us with all women, but enough of us with any one woman that we never seem to get ahead.

    I agree with most of the concerns in this comment thread, and I think that collectively, the thread is a great example of why we have such a hard time progressing.

  • Sigh. I wish more people had supported the woman back in the primaries.

  • Kevin

    While it is true that it is very difficult to find any information where Ms. Jarrett actively supported women’s rights, one can also not find any information where she is “anti-women.” She is a woman who actively supported Obama and one of the 36 million women who voted for him. I looked at this appointment this way:

    1. Ms. Jarrett is a smart, successful and hard working woman;

    2. Ms. Jarrett has a very close association with Obama and she will want to make herself and Obama look good regarding women’s rights;

    3. Her smarts, work ethic and closeness to Obama and desire to make him look good means she has the capacity, opportunity and motivated to get results

    What many ridicule as her faults is exactly what gives her the greatest chance of success. I don’t believe Obama will let her fail, exactly the support you want from your boss.

    Time will tell.

  • I will wait for her to actually do something before I celebrate.

    The clock is ticking, Valerie…..

  • MaryL

    “I will wait for her to actually do something before I celebrate.”

    Yes, I agree—Someone on another thread mentioned that TNA could submit a list of goals that we expect such a position should attempt to accomplish. I think that is a great idea…

    It is unclear to me from the press release if this Council can operate independently, or if it just liaises with other government positions.

    But, I think it’s reasonable to expect Jarrett to make a statement on domestic violence—and reference Chris Brown/Rihanna. Nickolodeon is still supporting the guy for a KIDS choice award.
    TNA should give serious consideration to preparing something soon for Jarrett—the time to be heard is now.

  • Kevin

    The Women of Courage Awards co-hosted by HRC and Michelle getting a lot of publicity. It would be nice for TNA to recognize the recipients.

    I think Michelle and HRC make a powerful duo.

  • Florida Lady

    delighted to see this addressed! Of course Val Jarrett was a knee-capper to Hillary and Sarah Palin – duh! She’s a hard-swinging Chicago pol who edged NoBama past us, with a wink and a nod to Howard Dean, who stole Florida and Michigan primary votes.
    I don’t know what kicked to the curb means – sounds violent to me – but this patronage hack has no business doing something as important as women’s policy.
    NBC News reported that Jarrett and Michelle Obama are cousins. Look it up – she’s related.

  • MaryL

    “Kicked to the curb” to me means that you have some battle scars. If you haven’t fought on the front lines, how can you be capable of leading the troops?
    If you haven’t experienced the problems first-hand, how do you know how to solve them? How do you know if there are problems?
    My concern is that she seems to be rather disconnected from the very women she should be trying to help.
    Time will tell….

  • Lisa

    I agree with what Sheryl says above:

    “It’s interesting to me that we criticize the appointment of Valerie Jarrett far more than we did most — perhaps all — of the men Obama appointed to cabinet.

    This is the trap we keep falling into: women won’t support women because no woman is good enough.

    We just won’t give women a break. Not all of us with all women, but enough of us with any one woman that we never seem to get ahead.

    I agree with most of the concerns in this comment thread, and I think that collectively, the thread is a great example of why we have such a hard time progressing.”

    In our earnestness and desire to fight for our rights, we stand in our own way, and eat each other alive.

    Like Amy’s work example with the strip clubs- no one could criticize her for not being able to singlehandedly change how things were done, but SHE was able to bring in other women.

    And those other women brought into the company can mentor other women. And even women hired who don’t support the best agenda will most likely continue to surround themselves with more women, and will make many decisions that are good for women, whether ALL women like those decisions or not.

  • John Horning

    I listened to Ms. Jarrett on PBS this morning. My read: (1) she believes that the current political and/or financial commitments by the Federal government are sufficient, (2) her role will be to reorganize these commitments and cause increased effectiveness.

    Given that, I would think that TNA should support the efforts to reorganize and gain increased effectiveness. At the same time, I think that TNA should agitate for increased resource commitments where TNA believes that they are necessary.

  • Kevin

    MaryL,

    My guess is that Ms. Jarrett has fought on as many battle lines as HRC had at their respective ages (in fact, there is much about their careers that is similar) and more than Sarah Palin and to my knowledge Sarah Palin wasn’t a charging activist for women’s rights before she thought she could use HRC as a rallying cry to get votes.

    I support HRC and admire much about Sarah Palin but, please, let’s use a fair measuring stick.

    I am wishing Ms. Jarrett well and expect she will rise to the occasion.

  • RealChange

    We need to support women in positions of political and corporate power whether we agree with the way they operate or not. All men do not agree with the actions and beliefs of all other men, but they maintain their power by the sheer number of them in power. We must learn to do the same. Numbers is the tactic we must use to achieve our goal of equitable power.

  • marille

    I am citing here a comment (with permission) from another Hillary supporter to the topic of a council on womens affairs and the yet not ratified ERA, quite fitting to this discussion.

    “There is still hope for a President’s Commission yet. However, we don’t need a commission to report the problems we already know. We need a Congress and a President who will do the right thing and not make women grovel for rights they awarded freely to men 239 years ago! The more I read, the more insensed I become that we are human beings not recognized with equality to men in our country! This is not a women’s issue. This is as Hillary said – a human rights issue!

    It is nuts when you really think about all that we do – work, kids, husbands, shopping, cooking, cleaning, carpools, community service, etc… all this to not get paid the same as men, have a mere 17% in Congress, 16% governors, 25% state judges, 1 seat on the Supreme Court, 1 in 4 victimized by violence; 1 in 3 by sexual assault; reproductive rights denied at every turn, no pay for caregiving, inadequate social security, a media that seeks to ignore our voices and demeans and degrades us for entertainment, schools and universities that ignore our history, and not even a single federal holiday to honor an American woman. But hey, it only took 76 years to move a statue with the 3 suffragists to the Capital Rotunda – 4 years longer than our struggle for voting rights! DId you catch the CBS Evening News that reported on Domestic Violence and the women whose boyfriend threatened to kill her and cut her up with a chain saw and throw her into his firepit in his backyard? Guess what she looks forward to – him getting out of jail in one month!

    It is unfathomable to me that women can even ask, “Do we really need an ERA?” Nah… let’s stick with the status quo and hope in another 2 centuries we might trickle our way to a seat at the table. “

  • John said: “John Horning on March 12th, 2009 12:08 pm
    I listened to Ms. Jarrett on PBS this morning. My read: (1) she believes that the current political and/or financial commitments by the Federal government are sufficient, (2) her role will be to reorganize these commitments and cause increased effectiveness.”

    Good grief. Obama not only blantantly names an unsuitable crony, she blatantly admits she’s against increasing such help to women.

    Never mind what ‘reorganize’ can be a euphemism for.

    Crones against cronyism unite!

  • marille

    I posted the above comment also in response to TB talking about the “flames of bitterness”. sounds to me pretty much like Carl Bernsteins’ “don’t bark up the tree of sexism”.
    If we don’t recognize the incredible slow pace of achievements for women , we will not be able reach anything in our lifetime. lets wait for a couple more generations. recognition and work on mistakes are important. the contentness with trickle down of womens rights is dangerous. in my view and many others we woudl not have gotten the vote if it were not for the brilliance, courage and comittment of Alice Paul including the willingness of sacrificing her life.
    please if you do one thing for women’s month watch the “iron jawed angles”.

  • John Horning

    Correction, I listened to her on NPR, not PBS.

  • Kevin

    Well Flora and John,

    During the interview, Ms. Jarrett said the FIRST thing she would do is review what the current agencies are doing to benefit women, coordinate and make those program more effective.

    She also spoke above enforcing the Ledbetter Act and not just being satisfied with that enactment but pushing advancements further to ensure women receive equal pay.

    She spoke about looking at the Recovery Bill and making sure it served to jump start small businesses owned and run by women, and reviewing Health Care initiatives to ensure women get the daycare and child care they need to get and stay in jobs.

    I guess my summary is a bit different – boy – nothing like women to treat other women fairly.

  • kevin,

    Do you have a url where we can all see the transcript, or long quotes from Jarrett herself?

    In the meantime, here is how Politico describes the ‘Council.’

    the White House Council on Women and Girls — a sort of inter-agency task force with no full-time staff, no Cabinet-level leader and no set meeting schedule.
    […]
    “I think it falls far short of what’s needed,” Martha Burk, a former chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, said about the new board. The council will be headed by two top Obama advisers, Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen.
    [….] I think both are going to find this is one of many things they’re responsible for and I think they’ll be stretched to give it proper attention. We have told them that,” Burk said.

  • Kevin

    Flora,

    Here is the URL http://www.npr.org/templates/s.....=101777060

    I agree that:

    1. the position should be cabinet level
    2. the Council should have a small staff and
    3. a meeting schedule

    I am sure #1 will not happen (unfortunate) but #2 and #3 will be remedied.

    Time will tell.

  • John Horning

    Kevin –

    I went to the link and listened a second time. Ms. Jarrett makes it plain that she has no interest in new initiatives. It is likely that there are opportunities to improve performance, and that should be done. However, for those people who are looking for new initiatives, based on this interview, it is obvious that Ms. Jarrett is not where they will find it.

    Anyone who is interested can take the two or three minutes required to listen and reach their own conclusion.

  • Kevin

    John,

    I think you are stretching the “new initiatives” component; I did not understand her to be so limiting and even if so below are all the initiatives already underway:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/women/

    http://www.dol.gov/wb/

    http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/

    And this does not even include how the activities of the other departments affect women.

    Ms. Jarrett is making an excellent point about streamlining, focus and coordinating first – it is a big job in and of itself. The issue as I see it is not whether or not there are new initiatives but the implementation and effectiveness of the existing ones. Having said this, see MUST be aligned a small staff – probably pulling professionals from other departments (hopefully).

  • kevin and john,

    Thanks for further info. The tape at Kevin’s link is 5 minutes long. I’ll wait for a transcript.

    Of course Favreau’s team would have written a good sounding introduction for her.

  • Kevin

    Flora,

    There is no lenghly or overblown introduction. The interview goes by very quickly and it is only 5 minutes 🙂

  • Adrienne Grey

    By the way, to TB who wrote:
    “And that includes Valarie Jarrett, who occupies a position which none of the Presidents of the last four decades saw fit to create before now (and that includes Bill Clinton).”

    I’d point out that Bill Clinton did create a similar office in 1995, that George Bush of course closed down.
    http://www.legalformsinfo.com/.....tives-outr

    *****A

  • Adrienne,

    Thanks for info. From that site:

    HISTORY
    President Clinton started the White House Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach in 1995 to serve as a liaison between the White House and women’s groups around the country, and to ensure that the concerns of women would be heard by the administration. Betsy Myers was appointed the first director of OWIO.

    So where is our current day Betsy Myers?

  • Valhalla

    Flora has hit the nail on the head. The false logic of your conclusion here is the idea that it’s Jarett or no one. There are thousands, possibly millions of women more qualified, and who didn’t participate in the Attack Dogs of Misogyny Wilding Fest of the past 2 years. Obama could and should pick one of them. You have posited a false choice and claimed by implication to oppose Jarett is to oppose women’s equality. That’s exactly the same kind of dogwhistle game Obama played against women (and, well, everyone) in the primaries; we were repeatedly fed the false choice of ‘for Obama or you’re a racist’.

    As long as those same tactics are being employed here, we’ll never get real equality.

    I’m tired of being grateful for crumbs, and esp. when the crumbs are already moldy. The establishment of a Council might be a good thing, or it might be a pure fake-out pander designed to preempt real steps toward equality. I don’t think it’s right to advocate support when it’s at best unclear which. That reasoning directly parallels the equally false reasoning that got us Obama in the first place. The very least we should expect and demand is far more than a Council; we need to demand action, and an ally as one of our government leaders, not someone (another someone) no record, and no experience, who we have to beg and prod to do the least thing.

  • bruce nahin

    Madeline that was not my point, No I am not saying that a failure on issues grounds by a woman to support HRC or Palin makes one a traitor, but if you act affirmatively to viciously attack a woman or if you are in a position to stop such attacks and you do not , as is the case with Jarrett, then I believe the quotation applies( this is a reply to hers of March 12t at 12:35 am)

  • Kevin

    What confuses me is what is the actual evidence that Ms. Jarrett will not do well in this role? What did she do that violated women’s rights? It is like she was suppose to hold a press conference and chide Obama and the media for being sexist and ask all Americans to vote for HRC or Sarah Palin. Please tell me how she participated in the “Attack Dogs of Misogyny Wilding Fest.”

    Obama has chosen someone he trusts who is accomplished, intelligent and hard working having led three successful careers as a lawyer, businesswomen and political operative.

  • Anne-Marie

    In response to RealChange saying: “We need to support women in positions of political and corporate power whether we agree with the way they operate or not. All men do not agree with the actions and beliefs of all other men, but they maintain their power by the sheer number of them in power. We must learn to do the same. Numbers is the tactic we must use to achieve our goal of equitable power.”

    And also in response to the controversy about whether it is appropriate or not to support Jarrett, it seems that both are away of trying to decide between quantity vs. quality.

    Until today, I totally agreed that quantity is paramount, but now I wonder: If we strive for numbers with no consideration given to quality, and if we follow that path to a successful conclusion, then where do we arrive? At a place where men are now: We have the power or equal representation, but because the way we got there was by ignoring quality (which to me means electing leaders who care about fairness, compassion, cooperation, peace) the world won’t be a better place for women or for men or for the disadvantaged, etc.

    I think we must not just strive for female representation, but for representation by females and others who truly will help lead us to a more enlightened and happier future for the human species.

    I think this is why I could never get behind Obama during the election. He promised hope and peace and all the good stuff, but he didn’t practice that in the way he campaigned against Hillary. He cared more about winning than about practicing the ideals he was espousing.

    If we want to achieve equal power and respect to men, and continue living by the rules they made up then quantity is enough, if we want to make this a better world, quality is necessary.

  • Adrienne Grey

    The litmus test I used for the quantity versus quality dilemma is this:

    All things being equal, choose the woman. My definition for ‘equal’ is the candidate meets reasonable qualifications for the post, both by relatable experience and track record, and has no major disqualifying factors (i.e., no anti-woman women).

    I resist comparing qualified woman candidates against qualified men, because a) I agree with RealChange that numbers are paramount, and b) I understand how a system stacked against women works psychologically and insidiously to skew such comparisons in favor of men — even for those of us who are watchful.

    By that standard, I could not NOT vote for Hillary, even if I had not preferred her style, programs, etc. (which I did).

    Re the Jarrett pick, the obvious reasonable qualification is that she be a woman, and that she have some track record supporting other women. Whatever the President thinks of Ms. Jarrett as a friend or campaigner (or relative), and however “accomplished, intelligent, and hardworking” she may or may not be, she lacks a public track record of supporting other women. Pointing this out has nothing to do with supporting or not supporting her.

    The deal is done, it won’t be undone, and I certainly hope she’ll end up doing a good job, despite the lack of evidence we have for that right now.

    *****A

  • ER

    I think we need to take constructive action while keeping the pressure on.

    What do we want Jarrett to accomplish? Let’s define the top items, and then publicize them and write her. With our priorities identified and communicated, we can then see how she does on them, and keep the issues visible in the media.

  • Valhalla said, “Flora has hit the nail on the head. The false logic of your conclusion here is the idea that it’s Jarrett or no one.

    Right. If not Jarrett, who do they think Obama would name? Andrew Cuomo? 🙂

    The establishment of a Council might be a good thing, or it might be a pure fake-out pander designed to preempt real steps toward equality.

    Yup. A token ‘Council’ run by a token sock puppet.

    Hm. Andrew Cuomo would be an improvement!

  • Kevin said, ” It is like she was suppose to hold a press conference and chide Obama and the media for being sexist and ask all Americans to vote for HRC or Sarah Palin.”

    Didn’t Hillary do a pretty good job of defending and supporting Palin while saying not to vote for her?

  • John Horning

    Kevin –

    A quote from your post at 4:06pm: “The issue as I see it is not whether or not there are new initiatives but the implementation and effectiveness of the existing ones.”

    From the perspective expressed in that statement there is no reason for a “New Agenda” is there.

  • Wow, 53 comments! Meanwhile, the achievements of two other women go unnoticed while we bicker in the basement over a woman we don’t even know will even be granted any authority yet. Wow. Are these our priorities?

  • Valhalla

    Anna Belle, I don’t think the number of comments is indicative of Liskov and Hamburg going unnoticed. Rather, no one disagrees with the posts that they are good news for women. (and that, unlike Jarett, they are great fits for what they do). Honestly, I don’t understand Liskov’s field well enough to say much of anything except a rather boring version of ‘wow!’

    And Hamburg’s credentials are so impressive, the same applies, except that it’s sad that her experience in bio-weapons is so fitting and appropriate for the needs of our times.

  • Anna Belle said, ” a woman we don’t even know will even be granted any authority yet.”

    That’s exactly why we need to be discussing her! To decide whether we want the authority to be granted to her or to some other woman.

  • John Horning said to Kevin:
    A quote from your post at 4:06pm: “The issue as I see it is not whether or not there are new initiatives but the implementation and effectiveness of the existing ones.”

    I’m still waiting for a transcript etc, but I’d want to know how old the existing initiatives are. If they came from, or survived, Bush’s power, they probably don’t amount to much. In how many other areas would Obama like to stick with only Bush-era initiatives, proposing no new ones?

    This is tentative, since I don’t know those details yet.

  • Kevin

    Flora and John,

    I listed in my earlier comments those initiatives.

    Adrienne,

    I believe Ms. Jarrett has does nothing to rule her out for the job but as you say – and I must agree – she has done nothing to signify she is the most qualified for the job. I do believe, however, that Obama will not let his good friend fail in the position. If Obama wants to maintain or improve on the 36 million votes he received from women, the Women’s Council cannot be a bust.

  • Madeline

    Some people here are saying that Valerie Jarrett should have spoken out about the sexism that Hillary faced. I don’t believe that Obama’s campaign was sexist any more than I believe that Hillary’s was racist, so let’s look at the media, which was undeniably engaged in both sexism and (to a lesser but real extent) racism.

    I do not recall Hillary or any of her staff speaking out when the media trafficked in racism against Obama. I am not saying that you should not be upset that Obama and his staff were not more vocal in speaking out against the sexism that Hillary faced in the media, but it seems hypocritical to be angry at Obama and his staff for not doing something that Hillary and her staff also failed to do. Had Hillary won, would you now be saying that because she failed to speak out against racism, her closest advisers would not be fit to be leaders on civil rights issues?

    Flora: I remember Hillary saying (very wisely) that she would not attack Palin personally and that the focus should be on the issues, not on Palin’s family or anything like that. I remember Obama also saying that Palin’s family should not be an issue in the campaign–that his mother had had a baby as a teenager and attacking the parents of a teenage mother was wrong.

    My lord, I am not normally in the position of feeling like an Obama defender, but it does seem like many people here are as unreasonably determined to dislike everything about him as many people were unreasonably determined to dislike everything about Hillary. It is not that you have to like Obama or like HIllary, but the dislike seems to cloud people’s rational judgment at times.

  • Adrienne,

    First, Hillary did speak out against anything resembling racism. In her own campaign she fired one of her top people, Shaheen(sp?) when he was accused of racism in saying that the GOP might make an issue of Obama’s admitted cocaine use — as though cocaine were seen as a racist thing. In the media, she on a talk show strongly defended Obama when asked if Obama were a Muslim.

    Had Hillary won, would you now be saying that because she failed to speak out against racism, her closest advisers would not be fit to be leaders on civil rights issues?

    If she and/or her Black advisors had failed to speak out against alleged racism, then yes, those advisors would not be good choices to lead a Council on Race Relations. If in that hypothetical case she wanted to improve relations, she should choose someone who had supported Obama, or someone seen as above the fray, or someone from the Green Party, or perhaps a Republican. 🙂 Obama seems to consider the job to require no particular experience in women’s issues, so in Hillary’s hypothetical case, any successful Black business person would do.

  • Florida Lady

    to madeline @8:39 – I firmly believe there was rampant implied and overt sexism in the Obama campaign. yes, we can – find it. there are even compilations of these statements/ads/policies on You Tube.
    Obama’s senate office was one of the least female-friendly – among the fewest females at the top of his staff and even those were paid less with similar-title men. this was all covered during the campaign.
    many other examples – why do you think we were so angry at the Favreau HRC-groping shot – complete with guy in Obama tee shirt? it was PROOF that behind the scenes there is a dismissive, frat-boy ‘tude (they thought the snapshot was just for a friend.)
    photo after photo of Obama at work show him surrounded with men. except when he is with nancy pelosi, and then he is roundly trashed for ‘letting’ her write too much of the budget.
    You bet I see and call out the sexism in the Obama world. yes, we can. call him on it.

  • Madeline

    Flora, we can absolutely agree to disagree on a number of issues, but the idea that Obama paid his female staffers less than his male staffers for the same level of work is just not true. You can look at his staffers’ salaries and see that it is not true. He paid staffers according to their position–frankly, even if he were firmly sexist, he would have to be extraordinarily stupid to pay women less than men when he is considering a run for higher office.

    I have never heard about his office having an unusually small number of women–any link for that?

    And Flora, Obama and Hillary both fired people when it became necessary to let them go–Obama fired people who said over-the-top things about Hillary as well (Power and her monster comment, for example). That is not speaking out against racism (or sexism). And how is strongly defending Obama against charges that he is secretly a Muslim speaking out against racism? That ridiculous interviewer ambushed her with that question, and her answer was good, but does she deserve credit for not suggesting that yes, Obama is secretly a Muslim?

    Hillary did not speak out against racism. Obama did not speak out against sexism. We can be upset with them for that, but to be upset with one over the other makes little sense.

  • Madeline, my email is 1950democrat@gmail.com

  • Madeline,

    Apparently the fact is that McCain hires more women and gives them higher ranking (thus higher-paying) jobs than Obama, whose staff is about 50/50. Tapper compared McCain’s staff to a glass ceiling with the men on the bottom.

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/polit.....-sena.html

    http://www.google.com/search?r.....f+10+women

    Imo another point to look at is how long they have been employed there. Obama, new to the Senate, might be expected to have had gender parity in mind from the beginning. McCain, in the Senate for many years, might have done his staffing more according to merit. (Also look at the ages; women live longer, so McCain’s women may have outlived some of his men.)

  • Flora (fsteele)

    Speaking of campaign sexism, here’s an entry by Sheryl Robinson about a sexist ad that came from the top of the Obama campaign. It’s what we later called SOB-ing or Palinizing.

    http://thenewagenda.net/2008/1.....ead-first/

  • Madeline

    Flora (sorry for always responding to you! 🙂 ),

    That ad showed Palin winking. Palin winked during the debate. It was silly because it was condescending and unserious, not because she was a woman. The ad was using that moment to show that she was a lightweight not ready for the national stage–how is that sexist?
    Men wink too. Male politicians wink all the time. If Palin were a man who winked during the VP debate, the ad would have been the exact same. Unless winking is somehow unique to women, and unless implying that Palin is not ready for national office is in and of itself sexist, I don’t see how anyone could call that ad sexist.

  • Madeline

    Wait, I just noticed that you gave me your e-mail address. Would you like me to e-mail you?

    And good points about parity vs. merit and women’s longer lifespans. I hadn’t thought of that.

  • Madeline

    One last point: if that ad had shown Palin with her baby or something like that, then yes, that would be completely sexist. But winking as sexist?

  • Madeline,

    Yes, please email me. 🙂

    I agree with what Sheryl and Amy said in her entry about the winking ad,
    thenewagenda.net/2008/10/30/with-his-new-ad-obama-slides-into-the-sexism-pool-head-first/

    Here is, or was, a list of some other prominent women who considered the ad sexist, though I’m not sure if the link is still good.
    johnmccain.com/informing/news/PressReleases/b1e6fba9-9d4e-4294-a22b-dffdc508ddfb.htm

    I think there is a very deep cultural problem here: the movies “Legally Blond” were built around it. But I’ll begin with your comment, “Male politicians wink all the time. If Palin were a man who winked during the VP debate, the ad would have been the exact same.”

    I disagree. If male politicians wink all the time, how many of them have been painted as unserious and unready for office because of it? Why have such ads not been run against men? Biden laughs and jokes a lot, even during the debate, but no one takes that as meaning he’s not serious or not qualified.

    Yes, as you say, “The ad was using that moment to show that she was a lightweight not ready for the national stage” — but what it did was invoke a stereotype of silly, emotional, incompetent bimbo, and small-town at that. It fitted in with her other ‘sorority girl’ body language on other occasions which was mocked (and exaggerated) by Tina Fey. Again, see “Legally Blond.”

    In most US demographics (including my own), women who want to be taken seriously on their intellect, do NOT act that way. They don’t use those mannerisms any more than they would dress like a stripper. To me it was very shocking to see Palin using them. I kept having the same emotional knee-jerk reaction that the ad produced. I had to look at Palin’s record and examine my own feelings like a white guilt liberal. 🙂 Which is rather fun actually, no wonder so many people become wgl’s.

  • Madeline

    “If male politicians wink all the time, how many of them have been painted as unserious and unready for office because of it? Why have such ads not been run against men?”

    Dan Quayle was painted as unserious and unready and just plain stupid because he misspelled “potato.” Had he winked during the VP debate, I am sure that people would have used it as evidence of his silliness. I would venture that while male politicians probably do wink as much or more than most female candidates, none of them have done it in a situation as high-profile and highly visible as the VP debate. Palin’s wink was captured in very clear quality footage, and it was a moment that millions of people saw.

    I don’t personally find a press release from McCain’s website is not a convincing source–of course he and his supporters will say the ad is sexist. I wouldn’t necessarily find a press release from Obama’s campaign convincing either–campaigns feign outrage quite often.

    I should be clearer: it’s not just the winking. If Hillary Clinton or Obama or Bill Clinton winked, no one would go “Oh, they are silly and unqualified for high office!” because they are regarded as intelligent, knowledgeable people. But Palin’s incoherent interviews and stump appearances had created an impression that she was very ill-informed and not exceptionally intelligent. And during the debate, all of the “Joe Six Pack” folksiness felt incredibly fake and condescending and reminiscent of Bush and the winking was part of that–it felt like she was trying to charm the audience with winks and simplistic populism in a way that Obama and Hillary would never dream of doing.

    So, by including that wink, it reminded the audience that she had not shown herself to be a serious candidate–that that she did not have the knowledge or (in the opinion of many) the intelligence to serve in high office and instead relied on the appeal of folksiness–exemplified by the winking. How is that sexist?

    “what it did was invoke a stereotype of silly, emotional, incompetent bimbo, and small-town at that.”

    I don’t see how you got “emotional” from that wink. She seemed happy and animated, but that’s it. And in what way is winking a sign of being too emotional? Similarly, I don’t see how the ad said bimbo. I would say not so much silly as unserious and incompetent. But how is that sexist? It seems odd to say–if this is what you are saying–that you can’t imply that a female candidate is unserious or incompetent without being sexist, especially when that candidate has demonstrated a shocking level of incoherence. Dan Quayle was attacked mercilessly for being stupid, silly, incompetent, etc. Was that wrong? McCain and Palin and their people attacked Obama for being incompetent, or said that he would be an incompetent president. I don’t recall anyone crying racism over that, and if they did, they were grievously incorrect. “Small-town”? Again, do only small-town people wink? Winks don’t say “small-town” to me. And small-town is not a problem–Clinton was from a small town and no one questioned his brilliance.

    I’m not familiar with sororities–what language did Palin use that was reminiscent of them?

    “Biden laughs and jokes a lot, even during the debate, but no one takes that as meaning he’s not serious or not qualified.”

    Actually, people on the right love to talk about how much of a joke Biden is based on his goofiness. I don’t agree, but I do not consider that an offensive attack–just wrong.

    Do you want me to e-mail you about anything in particular? Or just to continue the conversation? By the way, I just wanted to say thank you, Flora, for being so polite during our debates. I really appreciate the civility–it can be hard to find on the internet.

  • Madeline,

    We can’t dismiss the list McCain posted (of prominent women who thought the ‘wink’ ad was sexist) as being presumably all McCain supporters. There was nothing to stop him posting names of non-supporters. (Though of course some who thought the ad was sexist, may have gone on to become McCain supporters for that reason.)

  • Madeline said, “Do you want me to e-mail you about anything in particular? Or just to continue the conversation? ”

    To continue where I’m not worried about cluttering the TNA blog or getting off TNA topics. We could meet at my personal blog, http://florasteele.blogspot.com/, or yours, or …?