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I, Virginia Bergman, pledge not to vote for a male presidential candidate in 2016 just because he's male.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

W.H. Council on Women and Girls: “No Full-Time Staff, No Cabinet-Level Leader And No Set Meeting Schedule”

Maybe it’s my imagination, but lately I seem to be catching a glimpse of more balanced news coverage of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The media seems to be escaping from the euphoric daze in which it has wandered from the day Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency. If I’m not mistaken, pundits and reporters alike appear to be achieving a more sober awareness of this man who, as George Will expressed it in a recent column, boasts only one qualification for the office he now holds – the campaign he ran.

After several stumbles, Obama himself may be catching on to the fact that there is a difference between governing and campaigning. In governing, you ignore at your own risk the concerted voices of an oppressed constituency.

Thanks primarily to pressure from Hilllary Clinton’s supporters in the primary who refused to accept the ugliness of that race and meekly go on with life, just yesterday Obama announced the formation of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

What’s surprising to me the day after is this straightforward and balanced account of the event provided by Politico’s Josh Gerstein. I caught not even a trace of condescension or the snarky putdown from Gerstein that usually targets Hillary and her supporters while seeking to elevate Obama.

Gerstein writes:

After Barack Obama’s election, some in the women’s movement thought big – pushing for a Cabinet-level office, or even a blue-ribbon Presidential Commission on Women.

But when Obama announced his plans Wednesday, he brushed aside those requests.

Instead, he started 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.

Women’s advocates who filed out of his East Room announcement Wednesday said they were delighted that their issues would get White House-level attention, whatever the forum.

But Obama’s move left others in the women’s movement questioning why he simply wouldn’t give the panel the prestige and heft they feel it deserves. Some activists already are strategizing about new ways to elevate women’s issues, beyond what Obama did.

“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.

“With all respect to Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen, both of whom are excellent folks….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.

One group – made up primarily of women who supported Hillary Clinton over Obama in the Democratic primary – said it will go to Congress seeking a presidential commission on women. The group sent out a blast email to rally its members around the idea just hours after Obama spoke.

In addition, the Center for American Progress is joining one of Obama’s most prominent female supporters, Maria Shriver, to launch a major inquiry into the stresses facing American women.

The White House confirmed officials considered and rejected the idea of creating a presidential commission. "They looked at a variety of options but ultimately they decided to go with the council that was announced," said one official, who asked not to be named.

Read more:

BTW, an unimpressed commenter at Politico wrote this response to Gerstein’s post (emphasis mine):

Party: NA Reply #10Date: Mar. 12, 2009 - 7:57 AM EST

When an independent panel went through both McCain and Obama's campaign payrolls, the significant difference between them was that McCain paid his female staffers 1.05 average to each 1.00 for male (which i don't believe in either and I am a female, should have been equal pay for equal job)...Obama on the other hand paid his female staffers and workers .74 to each 1.00 paid to male staffers and workers (which OF COURSE I don't believe in), so my question is this...why are these women surprised that he went back on his word in this regard? If these women didn't care about the female workers and staffers on his campaign being paid 3/4 of what he was paying the male staffers doing the same job, WHY ARE THEY PRETENDING TO CARE ABOUT SOME COMMITTEE HE AGREED TO? You women out there who overlooked things like this when it came to Obama and still voted for him thinking women's issues were going to be at the forefront of his agenda (and given the current economic and foreign problems, I say why should they right now) you are a stupid bunch of females and you get what you deserve by not knowing your facts before you voted (ie the way he spoke to female reporters by calling them sweetie etc...and many, many, many more things you Obama loving women) WAKE UP!


  1. Thanks for posting that from Politico.

    Elsehwere I saw a reliable cite of various other titles that Jarret is supposedly in charge of.

    That's even assuming that a crony who helped Obama's sexist campaign and has NO background in women's issues would be a legitimate choice if she DID have time.

  2. Hi 1950 Democrat,

    Good points about Jarret. I was really disappointed when I saw that she was put in charge of this council on women and girls.

  3. No surprise here, really. It's par for the Obama course.

    Glad I did not get my hopes up or anything...