Sunday, February 03, 2008

come see the new and blog!

Dear Friends,
I have exciting news. As of February 1. 2008, I will no longer post to this Blogspot.

Instead, Please come see me at the new, expanded Speaking Up!

I have two blogs within the new one is my Heartfeldt Politics Blog, where I want you to come, read, and post often. It will be frequently updated, and it also contains many helpful tips and links for taking action.

You'll also find a group blog which I call a U-Blog. The topic is my new book co-written with Kathleen Turner about her life, Send Yourself Roses. This will be great fun as we all share our own experiences and send-yourself-roses moments.

You can sign up for feeds of both these blogs, as well as my newsletters.

Every day, there will be something new about my favorite topics of Women's lives, politics, health, media, and leadership. I'm adding podcasts, and who know what else will find its way on to Speaking Up! So I very cordially invite you not just to show up but to speak up there often.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Roe's Midlife Crisis

Today, January 22, 2008, marks the 35th anniversary of Roe v Wade. If you're reading my blog, you almost certainly know that's the U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion based on the right to privacy in matters as personal as childbearing.

We've kept Roe alive despite a constant tack backward by courts, state laws, and a federal abortion ban that's been upheld by the Supremes. Meanwhile, in pop culture--movies like Juno and Knocked Up for example--abortion has become increasingly cast, if at all, as some clandestine act that nice people would never engage in.

If this trend continues, then life will imitate art and abortion will become clandestine again. So it's time to radically rethink our whole approach. We have to stake out a human rights framework for reproductive justice and go for it from the ground up. I don't care if we thought the battles were fought and won--they were, but that's democracy, folks. We have to do it again, in terms that resonate with the world we live in today. You get past a midlife crisis by doing something different.

Here are a few pieces I wrote:
For Huffington Post,"I Am Roe and I Have Questions for the Candidates".
For Women's eNews: "Roe Anniversary Brings Decisive Moment to Choose"
For Salon: "Roe 35 Years Later"

Read on!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Hillary: Get over it so you can get on with winning

I was going to call this "The Importance of Being Hillary", but the Iowa caucus results seemed to call for something else. So I did a third "Memo re Hillary", this time to Hillary herself telling her to "Loosen up, Girl" if she wants to win the next round of primaries. But do read the rest of it here and let me know what you think. Better yet, put a comment at the end of my commentary on HuffPo.

Deborah Siegel, posted an interesting analysis of women and men voters in the Iowa Caucuses on her Girl with Pen blog. I want to share it with you here too because dollars to donuts you'll never see this information in the New York Times. It's dated January 4 and the author is sociologist Virginia Rutter; the post title is "Who Votes Their Gender".

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Out of the Candidate Closet

Salon's "Let the Voting Begin" has some interesting endorsements. I hadn't been coy or undecided previously, but rather had refrained from lining up with a candidate because I thought that was better for my opinion writing. Seems no one cares and it felt like time to me personally. So there you are.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Headline as Haiku

The headline summed it up so accurately it made my teeth hurt: "Republican Unity Trumps Democratic Momentum".

Robert Pear and Carl Hulse wrote the article that sums up Congressional Democrats’ 2007 accomplishments, or lack of them, in the New York Times, December 21. But whoever wrote that headline gets my vote for the Pulitzer. In fewer syllables than a classic haiku, he or she described perfectly the essence of American politics since the extreme right has held sway over the Republican Party.

The Democrats might have better ideas and public opinion on their side right now, but the Republicans--even when they’re in the minority—still run strategic circles around them.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)said she didn't foresee this would happen. Excuse me, but what sand has her idealistic head been buried in? And what a dumb thing to say even if you think it, power politics being what they are.

But at least she took some responsibility. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)simply blamed the Republicans. Perhaps it’s not surprising that public opinion now ranks Congress even lower than the President.

The conservative right is effective because they stick together and mass their strengths; those on the progressive left not only lack the discipline to stick together, they so distrust power that they sully their own opportunities to advance measures they sincerely believe will make people's lives better—in other words, the very things they were elected to do.

These missed opportunities occur not just because the minority is more highly motivated than a majority to exercise discipline; we’ve seen the Republican majority steamroller brazenly over the Democrats too many times to exonerate the Democrats and their leadership from responsibility for becoming rolees of their own volition. The most obvious example is the continuing flow of money to the Iraq war even after it became clear the Bush administration had lied through its teeth to justify a war that has benefited their Halliburton cronies more than anyone else.

But from the first day George W. Bush took office in 2001, well before 9/11 gave him a free pass, he started to ramrod extreme right wing judicial nominees through the Senate. Democrats, led by wimpy minority leader Tom Daschle, never let the courage of their convictions take precedence over crass vote counting.

Even after the Senate’s breathtaking switch from Republican to Democratic hands when Vermont’s moderate Republican Senator Jim Jeffords switched to Independent and began to caucus with the Democrats in May of 2001, Democratic leaders were still unwilling to seize the opportunity to oppose Bush’s nominees until a large coalition of women’s and civil rights groups poured starch into the senators' spines and perhaps a little fear of reprisal into their hearts.

In one such hearing, Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) looked straight at me and a few other heads of women’s organizations who were observing the committee hearing and angrily accused us of being the problem, rather than Bush’s nominees whose track records guaranteed that they were eminently prepared to eviscerate civil and reproductive rights that are core principles of the Democratic Party.

True, conservatives on occasion fail because they are so heartless in their pursuit of power that the vast silent middle of citizens finally rises up in outrage. The Terry Schiavo
case comes to mind. “Compassionate Conservatism” has been clearly demonstrated during the current Bush administration to be at best an oxymoron and at worst a cruel hoax. And every once in a wonderful while, their rigid acceptance of hierarchy backfires, and the likes of Tom DeLay finally get their due. But most of the time, their discipline to fight out their differences in their party’s caucus and then work the legislative floor together in lockstep allows them to leverage their effectiveness far beyond their numbers.

The Republicans are power mad. The Democrats are power averse.

So what did Pelosi and Reid expect when they took their majority leadership positions last January? Will they learn from their defeats and come out with agendas blazing and party unity next January in order to set a more favorable context for their party in next November’s elections?

Hope springs eternal.

© Gloria Feldt 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

You Looking at Me?

This is on Huffington Post too. Some days it seems like journalists don't have enough to do with their time so they create conflicts out of whole cloth as a form of entertainment. Fortunately for me, I make no claim to be objective. Let me know what you think. Better yet, go to HuffPo and put your comment there.

You know Hillary is no longer seen as the inevitable front runner in Iowa when Maureen Dowd (almost, at least till she gets to her punch line) writes something positive about her.

In response to the latest Drudge-Limbaugh-sexist bloggers' echo chamber campaign to denigrate Hillary for—gasp!--looking like a 60-year-old woman, when men of that certain age or even—gasp again--older are seen as distinguished and wise, Dowd observed: “Women are still scrutinized more critically on their looks, which seem to fluctuate more on camera, depending on lighting, bloating and wardrobe.”

It takes a sharp sense of humor as well as a tough hide to get beyond the frivolously discriminatory lens with women are judged. Chile’s president, Michele Bachelet, who ranks # 17 on Forbes’ list of “World’s Most Influential Women to Hillary’s #18, told a CNN reporter that when a male journalist asked her how she would wear the pants of the presidency she replied tartly, "or the skirt of the presidency."

Yet for women seeking leadership roles, the appearance issue is just one layer of the perceptual onion; each layer will have to be—and will be--peeled back over time to fully understand what the core resistance is about. By then, of course, it won’t matter because there will be enough women in leadership positions that seeing them in those roles feels normal.

When the luxuriantly pregnant Campbell Brown asked Clinton the first question at the Las Vegas Democratic presidential debate, it was clear that several layers have already disappeared.

To begin with, in Hillary’s elementary school days, a visibly pregnant woman wasn’t allowed to teach school, let alone imagine she could be a network television anchor, and an anchor interviewing a woman leading the presidential pack at that.

Second, this adorable exchange between Brown and Clinton highlighted a generational difference that need not be a divide, but is surely an onion layer to be acknowledged as we bid farewell to it along with Hillary’s knowing wink:

BROWN: But, Senator, if I can just ask you, what did you mean at Wellesley when you referred to the "boy's club"?

CLINTON: Campbell...


BROWN: Just curious.

CLINTON: Well, it is clear, I think, from women's experiences that from time to time, there may be some impediments.


And it has been my goal over the course of my lifetime to be part of this great movement of progress that includes all of us, but has particularly been significant to me as a woman.

And to be able to aim toward the highest, hardest glass ceiling is history-making.

Now, I'm not running because I'm a woman. I'm running because I think I'm the best qualified and experienced person to hit the ground running, but it's humbling...


By that debate, Hillary had taken her attire down a notch since John Edwards disparaged her pink jacket. She stood, earrings glistening, in a crisp but subdued salt-and-pepper tweed jacket with her black pants--a suit she laughingly described as "asbestos" in preparation for the scorching attacks she expected from her competitors.

(Oops, there’s that cackle again—but wait, she needs the humor here—now do we understand why Hillary sometimes seems to be walking a tightrope in her comments? She lives on the tightrope of transition, smack in the middle of profound social change that she is both the product of and the woman leading others to the next level.)

“Hillary doesn’t have to worry about her face. She has to worry about her mask,” concluded the ever-clever Dowd. But when I interviewed Hillary a few years ago for my book, The War on Choice, she summed up the real challenge better herself:

It’s human nature that when the established order has been changed, there will be a reaction, and the magnitude of the reaction shouldn’t surprise us. The advancement of women in the last fifty years has been breathtaking…There are victories along the way, but none of these victories is secure because of the pressures that undermine women’s rights and advancement…So now women who value their autonomy have to step up and take action.

Washington Post writer Howard Kurtz finally got some key journalists to acknowledge the obvious, that Hillary is treated differently, judged more harshly by the media across the board.

She's just held to a different standard in every respect," says Mark Halperin, Time's editor at large. "The press rooted for Obama to go negative, and when he did he was applauded. When she does it, it's treated as this huge violation of propriety." While Clinton's mistakes deserve full coverage, Halperin says, "the press's flaws -- wild swings, accentuating the negative -- are magnified 50 times when it comes to her. It's not a level playing field."

Attacks on Hillary’s gendered physical attributes, as even the Hillary-bashing Dowd has to agree, are often a convenient mask to obscure those odoriferous layers of misogyny that still exist and spill over where they shouldn’t be in determining the outcome of the Presidential race.

© Gloria Feldt 12/20/07

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why Oprah and Hillary are in this election together

12/12/07, 11:12 am--I filed this on Huffington Post just now. It should get posted later today. This time I am leaving in the HTML for the links in case you want to see them from this version. But if you go to read it at HuffPo, it will not only look nicer, you'll be able to leave your comment there and if you are so moved, to sign up to be notified when I have posted a HuffPo commentary, which is more or less weekly.
I want to expand on the Hillary-Oprah connection and would love to hear your thoughts on that. Here's today's post:

Her exquisitely lacquered red nails clasp the lever confidently, six fashion-
statement gold bangles punctuating her slender wrist. Though you can't see the
rest of her, if you read women's fashion magazines, you might guess this is
the smart, sophisticated Marie Claire

There's a good reason why the word "voting" is clearly painted under the lever, with an arrow pointing to it. This woman might well be one of the 35 million eligible women who didn't vote in the 2004 presidential election. And single women , we are told by the article, are less likely to vote than their married counterparts.

Marie Claire's "Election '08" articles, of which this is the start, are joined
with a larger nonpartisan effort called “Every Woman Counts” that is spearheaded by Lifetime TV and two other Hearst magazines--CosmoGirl! and Redbook--plus a coalition of dozens of other organizations working to elevate the women's vote in 2008 ,and to increase women’s participation in the political process in general. (Disclosure, I've signed on to the campaign as an individual,

The whole political activist world seems to know, even if the word still hasn't
permeated the consciousness of those 35 million eligible-but-not-voting women, that women are the key to the outcome of the 2008 elections, not just at the presidential level but all up and down the ticket. Especially telling is that women in the typically “red” Midwestern states are more likely to vote than women in the typically “blue” states. One must wonder whether this translates to higher voting rates for conservative women than for centrist, progressive and liberal women.

These facts are precisely the reason why Oprah
and Hillary, not Barak and Hillary, and are currently the leading players in the presidential campaign.

As the crawl at bottom of one Marie Claire pages tells us without needing to
explain its application to 2008: "If more single women had voted in the swing states in 2000, Al Gore would have won the election."

And the rest, as they say, would have been a very different history for our country.