Category Archives: Politics

Top Women’s Newspaper Journalists of Past and Present

helenthomas

In honor of Women’s History Month, last week I took on the daunting task of listing some top women television journalists that deserve our support. I would like to continue to honor this month by attempting to list top political newspaper journalists, columnists and editors who deserve the same kind of respect, support and place in history. And for a final tribute next week, I will tackle my list of top twenty liberal women political bloggers.

Women are now expected voices during political dialogue – speaking their minds and taking names, so to speak. But how did we get here? After all, we have only had the right to vote since 1920 (a mere 90 years ago) and finally had our first shot at a woman President only in the past year. Wouldn’t you know it, women have been affecting the political scene long before we were voting and have been fighting for their spot on the soapbox in the male dominated field of journalism ever since. Did you know that the International Federation of Journalists reported that only of 38% of working journalists are women?

So as a woman blogger, political junkie and proud feminist, I would like to tip my laptop to the following women of note:

  • Marguerite Higgins was the first woman to win a Pulitzer prize for international reporting in 1951.
  • Ethel Payne covered the civil rights movement and became the first African American commentator employed by a major news network (CBS) in 1972.
  • Ida M. Tarbell was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her historical investigative reporting about the Standard Oil company at the turn of the century.
  • Margaret Fuller was the first writer for the New York Tribune in the mid 1800s and was also the first female foreign and war correspondent.
  • Nellie Bly is famous for her undercover work as a journalist who faked her insanity so that she could report on the inner workings of a mental institution in the late 1800’s.
  • Katherine Graham was a Pulitzer prize winning author and managing editor of the Washington Post during the explosive early 70s when the Post unearthed the truth about Nixon.
  • Nancy Hicks Maynard was the first African American female reporter for the New York Times and former owner of the Oakland Tribune.
  • Ellen Goodman is a Pulitzer prize winning columnist who has focused her career on bringing attention to the women’s movement while writing a nationally recognized syndicated column.
  • Anna Quindlen is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist who, in 1990, became the third woman in history to write a regular column for the New York Times Op-Ed page.
  • Helen Thomas was the first female member and president of the While House Correspondents Association and has been in the white house press corps since JFK, sitting front and center of every white house press conference. (See image above.)
  • Arianna Huffington was named as one of Time’s worlds 100 most influential people and  is the co founder of the Huffington Post.
  • Margaret Carlson was the first female columnist at Time magazine and is now a columnist at Bloomberg News.

IN 1937, the National Federation of Press Women was founded. For a list of accomplished women journalists found in their Hall of Fame, please visit their site.

With such amazing journalists and inspiring women preparing the ground for future female writers, it is no surprise that such a fabulous crop of political bloggers have sprung forth today, enlightening, demanding and questioning the political arena at large. So who are my favorites? You’ll have to wait until next week when I will finally reveal my top twenty favorite political bloggers. Until then, happy Women’s History Month!

Cross Posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Bloggers, Communication, Educating myself, Feminist tendancies, Giving respect, Inspiring people, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Women

Top Women Television Journalists We Should Support

While it may come as no surprise to you, I still think I need to fess up: I am a news and politics junkie. And in honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to share with you my favorite women pundits, correspondents, news anchors, bloggers and political writers. Women news sources are still in the minority so this is my simple way of supporting every woman out there reporting on what will certainly become history some day.

Now how could I ever sum up the women I support in one concise post? Exactly, it’s utterly impossible. So this will be a three part post – and even then I am quite sure I’ll be skimping on you. Nevertheless, I’m going to give it a shot. This week, I will share with you my picks for the best women television news sources that you need to turn on and follow. Sure, do it for the future of women’s journalism, do it for women’s solidarity but really just do it because they are accomplished professionals making an important impact on mainstream media.

Until the early 1960’s, news reporting was strictly a man’s gig. So first things first – let’s give a shout out to some of first women who reported the political goings on in Washington. Nancy Dickerson was in fact the first woman television reporter. She opened the doors for such news greats as Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Ann Compton, Lesley Stahl and more recently, Katie Couric. The stories I’ve read about how difficult it was for these women to break into journalism makes the hairs on my neck stand up. They deserve respect and credit for the ceiling they have all cracked together.

maddow

Today, there are a number of television pundits and correspondents who have established themselves as top news contributors. But who tops my list? None other than the amazing and brilliant Rachel Maddow. If you don’t watch her MSNBC show at 9pm every weeknight (or follow her on twitter), you are missing something impressive. Ann Marie Coxis often a guest on her show and I have become a fan of hers also.

Another good perspective comes from Campbell Brown and her show “No Bias, No Bull” is my “go to” when I am not watching Keith Olbermann (and while he’s a “he” and therefore does not fit the bill for this post, I am a loyal viewer of his also). And by the way, Alison Stewart(previously of MTV fame and Emmy award winner) does a fabulous job filling in for Maddow and Olbermann – I hope to see more of this amazing news contributor in the future.

Gwen Ifill is the Moderator and Managing Editor on PBS’ Washington Week. Along with the stiff shirts of the McLaughlin Group, my father watches her regularly. I am a big fan myself and think she handled the vice presidential circus debate with grace and professionalism.

And while I stare at my monitor most afternoons, I usually have MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell quietly on in the background. She’s smart and does a fantastic job asking the right kinds of questions. And then Norah O’Donnellis the MSNBC chief washington correspondent and also hosts the 3pm hour of MSNBC.

While not your traditional political pundits, I have to mention the women on The View. They have made a significant impression on this country with their ideals and fiery political debates. Say what you will about The View being an actual news source, Whoopi Goldeberg and Joy Behar have my utmost respect.

And finally, Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent, deserves every bit of recognition she has received including the Peabody Award, two Emmy Awards and has been named the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). She speaks three languages and fearlessly positions herself at the epicenter of war, chaos and international instability on a daily basis. There is no question that she has earned my deepest admiration.

The only way we will see more women reporting and commenting on important news stories is if we support the women currently doing just that. Take note of who sits around the table during Meet the Press or gather in the White House Press conference room. Is our women’s perspective represented? Let’s hope it will be the case more frequently in the future.

Feel free to comment about some of your favorite women journalists below. And stay tuned for next week’s second post in this series about my picks for favorite women political newspaper journalists and writers that deserve their place in history.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Educating myself, Feminist tendancies, Giving respect, Inspiring people, Parenting, Politics, Reccomendations, TV, Women

My Thoughts on the Presidential Address to Congress

The other night after putting my children to bed, I settled onto my couch with my laptop and switched on MSNBC. I was ready to hear from our President. I was looking for hope, for answers, for any sign that there will be a light at the end of this very long and difficult tunnel. Homes in my neighborhood stand empty, friends are losing their jobs, funding for my son’s education is being cut drastically and I’m getting nervous about affording even groceries right now. This speech needed to assure me that eventually everything is going to be alright. And did it? Here is my reaction to the President’s address to congress.

After thunderous opening applause and a quick introduction by Pelosi, President Obama launched enthusiastically into his speech. Right away he recognized just how bad it’s gotten. He explained that he didn’t need to rattle off any more statistics about this recession since we are all experiencing it first hand.

With my arms folded and my heart sadly resigned, I certainly agreed. As much as I support our President whole-heartedly, I know the reality and can’t help but worry the obstacles in front of us are impossible to overcome.

He then reminded us that we are all responsible for our economy, for our environment, for our children’s futures. After years of excessive spending and with no regard for the consequences of bad loans or oil dependence, we’ve wound up where we are. His words were strong, he spoke plainly and he spoke right to me.

All this time, I’ve been smugly blaming the previous administration and everyone else for this mess. But it was at this moment when I realized that this problem is all of ours. We have all played a part in this mess and we all need to make an effort to fix it.

“Now is the time” he demanded. Ok. You’re right. I’m listening.

He then went on to explain this recovery plan will do the following:

  • Create 3.5 million jobs
  • Give 95% of Americans a tax cut by April 1
  • Give families paying for college tuition a $2,500 tax credit
  • Allow unemployed Americans extended unemployment benefits

Honestly? These promises practically make me giddy with hope. I was ready to leap to my feet during this part of his speech faster than Pelosi herself. But I didn’t. I was still holding myself back. These are promises and certainly look great on paper – but I am still waiting and seeing.

Obviously, this recovery plan means that a lot of money (read: trillions) will be floating around. Considering our reckless past, I appreciated the President explaining that careful tabs will be kept on every dollar spent. Americans can go to recovery.gov to see where our money is going. This is good. Actions and process have to be kept transparent if we want if regain any economic confidence.

The next points he brought up were about banking, credit and loans. The message came across loud and clear that our money in our banks is safe and that we cannot stop loaning to individuals and businesses. This will stop economic growth in its tracks. Clearly, trust needs to be rebuilt again.

He also pointed out that “responsible” families struggling to hold on to their homes will be assisted. He said that:

“…the average family who refinances today can save nearly $2,000 per year on their mortgage.”

For a family like ours who followed the rules, bought a home within our means but are still scraping to pay our mortgage – this was very encouraging to hear.

Further into his speech, I was thrilled to hear the three priorities of the recovery plan:

 “…the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.”

He explained that ignoring these areas will change the future of our country if we do not give them immediate support and attention.

This was where my cautious “we’ll see” grumblings gave way to affirmative exclamations. I was emotionally on board then. All I could think about was my child’s school staying open, my $150 co-pays to treat my son’s flu that never responded to his $25 flu shot, and the empty homes scattered all over my neighborhood. Maybe? Could it be? Well, it seems there actually is hope.

As our president concluded his speech, he mentioned the stories of individuals who have made differences in their communities. He then introduced us to the young high school girl who reminded our congress that “We are not quitters!”

You see, that is exactly it for me. I am scared right now. I am nervous that from the bottom of this economic hole, these promises are just too good to be true. I want to hide my head in the sand and wish it all away. Or maybe just wait for someone else to fix it. But we are not quitters. No matter what side of the tracks you fall on: get up, get out and do something. This is everyone’s problem. Not just Wall Street’s or Congress’s or our President’s.

No doubt about it, our President is a fantastic speaker. But he is also an extremely smart and capable leader. The impossible is ahead of us but instead of moaning about what can’t be done, I will follow his lead and consider all that can be done. He is inspiring me to take responsibility, move forward and do my part. It was an excellent speech and I’m excited and ready to see what our future has in store.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Communication, Economy, Getting green, Government, Inspiring people, Obama, parental fear, Parenting, Partisanship, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reality check

Morningside Dad: Thoughts from a Liberal Father

I am guessing that by now you are fairly familiar with my perspective as a liberal mom. Well, how about a father’s perspective? What is it like to be a liberal father raising children today? Wouldn’t you know it, my husband just happens to be a liberal father. So I sat him down tonight and asked him what his thoughts were on freedom of speech, equality, stereotypes about white men and the future of the Supreme Court. Come see what he has to say, his answers may surprise you.
brad
Now to give you some background about my husband, he is a 6 ft, 4” white college athletics coach. He grew up in a privileged town in Connecticut; he just completed his MBA and might be one of the smartest people I know. We’ll call him B. for the sake of this interview.

Caroline: As a liberal father, what issues are most important to you?

B: I am pretty straightforward about my values. I believe in civil rights, civil liberties, freedom of speech and every citizen having an equal opportunity to succeed.

C: And what about how your values relate to raising our children?

B: Well, our sons are part of a privileged class as two white males. I just hope I can raise them to have the same values I do.

C: So what about being a white male? What are your thoughts on affirmative action and our son’s future’s as white males?

B: It’s a topic I struggle with. I mean, why am I the bad guy? I know my race and gender give me a certain privilege but I wrestle with legislated equality sometimes. I realize sometimes we have to manufacture equal opportunity – and I get it – but I’ll admit that I struggle with this issue.

C: What have been some challenges for you as a liberal father?

B: I think I am most frustrated with the assumptions people make about me. I am a white, male coach – stereotypes are immediately drawn up. I mean, come on, even on the most progressive college campus, the Athletic department is assumed to be the last conservative bastion. As a result, comments are made around me since folks may presume I may have a certain value system which I don’t.

C: So how do you deal with that?

B: If I am at work and someone says something that I disagree with, I usually walk away or say nothing. I’ve got work to do and I am not going to start something then, but my silence usually clues them in. If I am outside of a work environment though, I do usually say something or try to start a constructive conversation about the topic. I make no apologies for my politics, take them or leave them.

C: With the new administration, what is the most important issue for you as a liberal father?

B: Apart from the obvious issues of establishing economic and global security for this country (and in turn, for our family), the appointment of the next Supreme Court justices is an extremely important issue for me. The current liberal appointments are not getting any younger. Whoever Obama chooses will leave a lasting impression on this country – probably longer than his own administration will. Do you know what kind of Supreme Court justices I want in there next?

C (smiling because I already know – and love – this answer): Tell me.

B: I want a purple haired, pierced nosed, extremely bright, straight talking lesbian from Northampton, Massachusetts appointed next. In fact, I want three of them in there!

I paused here to give him a big ol’ kiss. I love this guy.

C: Ok well gay adoption is illegal here in Florida. And you’ve heard all the threats about how legalizing gay marriage would ruin our marriage. What are your thoughts as a liberal father?

B: What in the world does my marriage have to do with two gay individuals who decide to be married? The success or failure of our marriage is strictly our responsibility. I have yet to hear one good cognizant argument against gay marriage. It is an equal rights issue that needs to be granted finally. If my sons grow up and decide that they want to love and marry another man, that is their right and I think it should be recognized, supported and protected.

C: Any final thoughts about being a liberal dad?

B: Florida is an interesting place. As far as I can tell in our area, I would say that being a liberal father is not particularly common. One morning a few days after the election, I was sitting at a red light. I mean, here I am, a white guy, with my kid in his car seat, on the way to kindergarten drop off with an HRC and Obama sticker on my bumper. I just don’t see that too often around here. All of the sudden, a guy in the car next to me (with his own collection of Obama stickers) started waving and honking at me, giving me the thumbs up. I saw that he too had kids in car seats in his backseat. I think it was a unique moment to see another guy like me so fired about this election. It was an interesting moment for me.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Boys, Equal Rights, Fathers, Florida, Marriage, parental fear, Parenting, Politics, Presidency, Racism, Raising Awareness, sons, Teaching kids

Will the Lilly Ledbetter Act Affect Equality in the Workplace?

obama_ledbetter

So I’m a woman. And many years ago, I was a working woman. I earned a nice-ish little income, I had a title, an office with a view, I wore suits and shared smart ideas about important stuff with other smart, important people around lacquered cherry wood conference tables. There were women and men in our office. And I assumed our pay was equitable. Or was it?

According to Women on Business, women nationally make 77c to every dollar men earn. That is not equitable. And let’s say a woman has proof that she does not make as much as a male counterpart, does she have the resources, the support – heck – even the laws in place so that she can file a lawsuit arguing inequity in her office place? Well sort of – and not until very recently.

So who is Lilly Ledbetter and what does she have to do with this issue? Last week, a new Fair Pay Act was named after her. Why? After working almost two decades for Alabama Goodyear Tire, Ms. Ledbetter filed a suit against the company with proof that she was being paid inequitably compared to her male counterparts. However, she could not win compensation due to some fine print found in the Civil Rights Act. That fine print stated that if 180 days had passed since an employee received a paycheck, a complaint regarding inequitable salaries could not be filed.

What? After working with Goodyear for almost two decades, how was she supposed to know if her pay was considered inequitable and thus know when her 180 days had expired? Why was this situation her fault?

Last week, President Obama signed a bill to change this, allowing workers to more time to file such types of law suits. It seems an obvious change and one that should never have been over-looked – and yet this bill was only signed days ago.

The reality remains, however. Inequity in the work place will not just go away now that companies have to watch their own backs more carefully.

So how do other bloggers feel about the new Fair Pay Act? Do they feel this Act enough? Martha Burk at the Huffington Post feels more is needed and that we should look to New Mexico as an example:

“Not only will the state as an employer have to study and report its own pay practices when it comes to gender and race, so will private sector companies that want state contracts. Richardson [Governor of New Mexico] has declared overcoming pay inequity and job segregation a priority, and established a high-powered task force to implement the needed changes.”

Emily Douglas at The American Prospect argues that this Fair Pay Act isn’t enough. In fact, it isn’t getting us that much further ahead. Rather,

“…the truth is that the Ledbetter Act simply restores employment-discrimination law to its pre-Ledbetter v. Goodyear standard. It doesn’t actually create new protections for workers, protections Ledbetter herself could have used — like a prohibition on employer retaliation if workers compare salaries.”

Punditmom agrees that this Fair Pay Act is a step in the right direction but questions whether the President is overlooking many other important issues in need of immediate attention for women such as increased health services. This apparent “tip of the iceberg” step towards fair pay seems to smack a bit of a quick fix, something to tide women’s rights activists over for the time being.

Sua Sponte is optimistic, however. She writes:

“This is not only an Act that will protect women like Lilly Ledbetter, but also countless other people paid less because of their race, national origin or religion. This Act clearly won’t be the remedy for all discriminatory pay decisions, but it’s a good start and sends a great symbolic message as Obama’s first law.”

Clearly, passing the Ledbetter Act alone will not solve discrimination issues in the work place. It seems simply the clarification of a detail. There is still so much more work to be done to truly establish equity amongst employees. But I suppose we all need to consider this a “glass is half full” moment. Thanks to this new Act, women can file a discrimination complaint and actually have a chance at compensation. Even if the Ledbetter Act is only considered one symbolic deckchair tossed impressively off the Titanic – it is still one step closer to a little something we all consider more American than apple pie: equal rights.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Equal Rights, Feminist tendancies, Government, Obama, Politics, Raising Awareness, Women, Working moms

Is Obama’s Hope for Bipartisanship Possible?

It’s week one for President Obama and he faces an overwhelming to do list; a tangled rats nest of diplomatic, economic and environmental issues – all of which are deemed an absolute priority. However, our President has made one thing very clear. In order to succeed at untangling any of this mess, our country must unify, shake off bad partisan habits, and move forward as one nation. But after all the anger across party lines over this past year – heck, over this past decade – is national bipartisanship actually possible?

During President Obama’s historical inaugural speech, he turned to the nation and announced:

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

Bipartisanship was clearly his priority the night before his inauguration as Obama attended a number of dinners, one honoring John McCain, where he aimed to demonstrate his intentions to unify this country.

And while President Obama’s stimulus plan only needs the majority number of votes to pass, he hopes for more. Obama is aiming for at least 80 votes to demonstrate to the nation that our government acts with one voice working together to solve our economic issues.

Before and since Obama was sworn in as our new leader, he has prioritized efforts to reach across party lines. There are an endless number of examples and Jonathan Martin at Politico lists many of them here. However, many are still skeptical whether these bipartisan efforts will actually work – and for various reasons.

Jake Tapper, an ABC White House correspondent, pointed out examples where Obama critiqued McCain during the election year – and at the time, he was clearly not in a bipartisan frame of mind. Will conservative citizens forget his criticisms and allow this water to pass under the bridge?

And that stimulus plan? Well, even if it is likely to pass, folks on both sides of the fence think such an idealistic goal of 80 votes is unlikely. Jay Newton Small from Time Magazine explains that Obama will either have to reach much further over to the Republican camp, which would disappoint supporters – or push the plan ahead going against his bipartisanship ideologies. Newton-Small writes:

“Obama may quickly find himself forced to choose between betraying his party and betraying his principles.”

Ed Kilgore wrote about Obama’s bipartisanship goals at the Huffington Post – and he too recognizes those that are skeptical his efforts will work. He writes:

“Call it ‘bipartisanship,’ ‘nonpartisanship,’ or ‘post-partisanship,’ this strain of Obama’s thinking is impossible to ignore, and has pleased and inspired some listeners while annoying and alarming others.”

Kilgore explains further about the possibility of Obama’s bipartisan intentions:

“Among self-conscious progressives and conservatives alike, there’s a prevailing belief that Obama’s ‘bipartisan’ talk is largely a tactical device without real meaning — and a lingering fear that he might really mean it. “

So, critics seem to think Obama’s bipartisan efforts are not genuine but some underhanded method to get what he wants? Or worse still, if he does mean it and politicians drop their baggage at the door, where does that leave both parties? Will they have to (gasp) compromise and listen? Have open discussion and actually tolerate differing opinions? That’s just not how Washington works. Right?

FireDogLake.com goes so far as to say that Obama cares more about bipartisanship than a stable economy. RealClearPolitics.com explains that bipartisanship is not such a great idea after all because it requires both sides to work together – and if one side has got it all wrong, the entire effort will be diminished.

And let’s not forget Rush Limbaugh. Like him or not, he has a huge conservative audience that hangs on to his every word. What are his thoughts on Obama’s bipartisanship efforts? Well, go see for yourself. But he certainly doesn’t think conservatives should “drink the Kool-aid”.

So what do everyday people think? Well, I was discouraged looking back at the comments of the Politico article I mentioned above. But not everyone considers Obama’s efforts impossible. Corina Fiore from Down to Earth Mama explained to me:

“Obama’s bipartisanship agenda is possible. As a nation, we know that with hard work, determination, intelligence and common purpose, anything is possible… This task, though, is difficult with so many egos and so many different ideals to consider.”

And then another blogger, Wendy Piersell from Totally Her, relayed to me that:

“I hope/think the Obama administration will change the dynamic between parties forever. But politics will always be partisan.”

I agree with both. Opposing parties and differing opinions are important for this country to check and balance itself. Our country is defined by its diverse perspectives – we don’t all agree and it’s our right that we don’t have to. That being said, President Obama simply wants to keep the door open. No idea or suggestion aimed at fixing our nation’s problems should be ignored based on party affiliation. Let’s keep an open mind and sit down to fix this together. We may all not get exactly what we want but, if our country is better off for the compromises we’ve made in 5 years, it will all be worth it.

And bipartisan efforts should extend even as far as Type A Mom. Please make sure to jump over, welcome and read future articles by our new Conservative Mom Editor, Krista Herling! Welcome Krista!

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Communication, Economy, Giving respect, Government, Inauguration, Inspiring people, Obama, Partisanship, Politics, Presidency, Reality check

Michelle Obama as First Lady, Feminist and Mom in Chief

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I can’t help but empathize with Michelle Obama right now. As a mother of two small children myself, I keep trying to imagine what she is going through as she prepares her family for life in the White House. I think about her little girls growing up in Washington DC as I did, attending a school right down the road from where I grew up. And as I empathise with our future first lady, my ears perk up when I read both about the support and criticism she is receiving as an accomplished woman who has decided to make her role in the White House “mom-in-chief”.

There can be no more daunting task than trying to raise the First Children. Can you imagine? Your daughters must live in a virtual museum with some of the tightest security world wide. There is no spontaneously running over to a neighbor’s house to play.  They will be isolated and protected from the world and yet they will have the most public lives of any child.

And so Michelle Obama has chosen to make parenting these children her priority. However, within days of learning about her future in the White House, Michelle had already received her fair share of advice. Hillary has jumped in to say her piece. Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, had a few things to say. And even FDR’s grandson offered some words of wisdom. While Michelle did not formally ask for Laura Bush’s advice, the current first lady did share her suggestions with the press later.

I wonder what comfort she has taken from all of this advice, if any. I wonder how much more advice is coming down the pike from other celebrity parents or those with political agendas or even advice from your average “Jane Parent” who always thinks she knows better anyway.

However, while Michelle prepares her girls and faces all of this advice, she must deal with those who already criticize her decision to put her girls first. Michelle is certainly an accomplished woman. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she continued on to work as an associate at a law firm and hold six board of director positions. She founded programs, she lead community outreach – she made “change” happen long before it was cool for an Obama to do so. But now, as her husband has been elected to be President, she has chosen to bring her career to a screeching halt and just be… well… a mom.

In a fascinating article written by Rebecca Traister at Salon.com, Michelle’s choices to focus on the traditional worries of a First Lady leave the author concerned. 

“…some of the most extraordinary [qualities of Michelle Obama] — the ones that set her apart from many of her predecessors in the East Wing — are already falling victim to a nostalgic complacency about familial roles, and to an apparent commitment to re-creating Camelot with an African-American cast, but little modern tweaking of the role of wife and mother.”

She argues Michelle could push the envelope and bring a more career minded feminist into the role of a first lady. She seems disappointed she has chosen to put her role as a mother and wife first and foremost, while leaving all the rest behind.

Ruth Marcus from the Washington Post discusses the ever present question that arises between married parents such as the Obamas: who will work and who will raise the children?

“The brutal reality is that, like our president-elect, most men do not wrestle quite so strenuously with these competing desires [to work or raise your family]. So when the needs of our families collide with the demands of our jobs, it is usually the woman’s career that yields.”

She implies that Michelle was not given much of a choice in this matter. When Obama was elected President, her career had to end. And there was no other choice but to make her children a priority.

But has Michelle truly failed as a feminist by focusing on her children? Is her career an utter failure because she is stepping aside from it for the meantime? Has she lost all credibility as a potentially new, modern, variety of First Lady?

According to Geraldine Brooks at The Daily Beast, she can make parenting her priority while still representing women as a powerful example.

“She is smart enough and subtle enough to have worked out that so-called Mom issues can make for meaty public policy.”

And then explains that her position as a mother in the White House will in fact bring much needed attention to women who struggle daily as they balance their careers and family.

“Work-family balance? What is that, really, but a polite way of putting the feminist agenda of equal pay and decent childcare back on the table after so many years of neglect?”

Meghan O’Rourke at Slate.com sympathises that, once again, no matter if a woman chooses either work or parenting as the priority, they will be criticized for their choice. And most of often a woman’s biggest critic is herself. She then goes on to make this final point.

“The best way Michelle Obama can act as a role model for women right now is not by making the decision any one of us would make (because we’d all make different decisions), but by reminding us that life is fleeting, and we ought to immerse ourselves in the opportunities and joys of our own life as it exists. Not as it might exist.”

And so my identification with Michelle Obama remains true. With two small children, and a mountain of advice, she must trust her instincts and raise her girls the best way she knows how.  There is no doubt in my mind that she will change the role and perceptions of the First Lady. And however she shakes things up, she has already made it unapologetically clear that she will make her girls her priority. In my mind’s eye, as a mother and brilliant leader able to remain fluid in her many roles as a woman, Michelle will make an excellent “First Feminist” indeed.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under daughters, Election, Equal Rights, Family, Fathers, Feminist tendancies, Guilt and motherhood, Hillary Clinton, Inspiring people, Marriage, Michelle Obama, Mothers, Obama, Parenting, Politics, Women, Working moms