I hit The Washington Post (when I write about Michele Bachmann)!

Dear Readers,

Here is my latest post for The Huffington Post national Politics page: It’s my take on: My favorite prairie home companion.

As the holidays approach, it’s sentimental fun to think about “…over the river and through the woods,” “the little house on the prairie,” and Lake Woebegone, even though most of us don’t live anything like that these days. But, this week, when I thought “prairie,” I thought about Minnesota’s wonderful U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar.

In my piece, I put the maybe U.S. Senate match-up between Amy Klobuchar and Michele “Tea Party” Bachmann in the context of what’s at stake for the rest of us.

Here is the link to The Washington Post piece, where Chris Cilizza, Washington Post political columnist, comments on my post.

Here is the link to the dust-up about my post in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Last, here are the very thoughtful words of a friend, commenting on what’s at stake:

“I really liked your essay, especially your dissection of Bachmann’s and Klobuchar’s relationship to the Pledge. We do have these bedrock principles and values, and yet Bachmann dismisses them while mouthing her support of them. On the other hand, so many of these political match ups between strong politicians like Klobuchar and right-wing politicians like Bachmann frighten me because I no longer see with certainty that voters will distinguish between the good and the bad. The distortions that the right-wing uses to secure its gains appear to have no boundaries, and when they can make someone like Michele Bachmann appear to be a mouthpiece for freedom, there’s no saying what they’ll do to someone like Amy.”



Coakley, Schmoakley: You’re Not Our Heroes Anymore

Dear Readers,

Here’s my take on tomorrow’s big U.S. Senate election, taken from the Huffington Post national Politics and Chicago pages. Go here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-sive.




Here is the full text of my post, inspired by one of my favorite musicians, B.B. King, and doubly-inspired by thinking about Dr. King: Check-it-out.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley may or may not be elected to the U.S. Senate tomorrow. I ask you: What difference will it make–one way or the other?

Badly, the Democratic guns-for-hire, Coakley’s would-be colleagues, and the President want Martha Coakley elected because they, badly, want their sixtieth vote for a healthcare bill that presently renders American women unequal, second-class to the men around them.

Coakley can’t wait to vote for it: In thrall to Ted Kennedy’s legacy and desirous of keeping the “Kennedy seat,” talk about entitlement, she campaigns with Vicki Kennedy to make her case.

So, let’s say Martha Coakley pulls it out of the bag. Then what?

Well, at the same time Friday that the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee was pleading with me to send money to help get Martha Coakley elected, I received a call from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) fundraiser.

Now, Amy is a longtime and dear personal friend: A law school classmate of my husband’s, we have sent money to Amy since her first run for office back in the 90’s. So, when Amy decided to run for the U.S. Senate, I took it upon myself to introduce her to then Senator Obama’s donor-world: the world of big-money, progressive Chicago Democrats. The dividends (for her) have paid-off ever since.

But what about the dividends for me, for the rest of the women of Chicago, for the women of Minnesota, or for the rest of America?

Talk about the bag. Looks to me like we’ve all been left, holding the bag.

The reason for the formation of Emily’s List, say, and of other women’s organizations that raise money and work to elect pro-choice, Democratic women candidates, was crystal-clear: It was to increase the representation of Democratic women in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, so that these women would do what the Democratic men had failed to do: make the American world an equal one.

We were highly motivated; we worked really hard; we had a great interest in helping the interested women among us achieve this opportunity to serve—in order to serve our interests.

Instead, we find them serving their own.

As I’ve previously written in these pages, in lockstep with their male colleagues, the 13 Democratic women U.S. Senators voted for a healthcare “reform” bill that, tragically, takes millions of American women back to pre-Roe v. Wade days, i.e., to daily life in which they will, odds-are, be unable to obtain an abortion, in their very own state.

As to the Democratic women Members of the House of Representatives, well, yes, a group is fighting hard against the Stupak Amendment (talk about pre-Roe!), but their leader, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, birthed Stupak in the first place. Talk about failing to serve the interests of women.

You’re not my heroes anymore.

Your elections excited me. Your elections motivated me to (keep) helping you, because I believed that your election meant I would have representatives of me, fighting for me.

Well, as B.B. King would say: “The thrill is gone.”

Don’t come to me saying you represent me; don’t come to me saying that I owe you my financial support; don’t come to me saying that you are the defender of my rights; don’t come to me saying you matter to women, or, worse yet, for women.

For, right now, you don’t.

So, until further notice, my phone is on voicemail; my checkbook is closed; my e-mail contact list doesn’t include you; my living room chairs are empty of women donors; and my speeches for you won’t get written.

B. B. continues: “The thrill is gone away for good.”

Is it?

That’s up to you.

On this day of all days, on the day when we honor the work of a man assassinated for standing- up and acting on his belief in equal rights, the least you can do is:

· Stop making deals, stand-up to the enemy, and fight like Dr. King did.

· Stop thinking that being just a little bit better than the guys next-door is enough help for those who depend on you. Dr. King didn’t make this mistake, and neither should you.

· Stop thinking that being in proximity to power is sufficient (to our needs). The only thing that actually matters, on days like these, is having the power, and using it to do good.

· Stop thinking that fighting to “maintain the status quo” is a win, ‘cause, gee whiz, I tried really hard. It isn’t, not when women’s very lives are at-stake.

· Stop thinking “half a loaf is better than none.” Sometimes, some days, these days, this day,it’s not. We know that, and so should you.

On this day, of all days:

· Know that your male colleagues don’t understand what we need, in the way that you do. We need you to do what needs doing.

· Know that your sworn enemies won’t, ever, honor their word. The last few months of “healthcare reform” are ample proof of that, if any were ever needed. We need you to outflank our enemy, however you can manage to do that.

· Know that equal rights can’t be achieved by conducting business “as usual.” We need you to conduct the business that needs conducting, no matter the price you may personally pay for breaking away from the (male) norm.

· Know that you owe us a debt, and it’s time to pay it. We need you do what Dr. King did: Fight until you can’t fight anymore.

I close as B.B. closed: “I’m free, free now; I’m free from your spell, and now that it’s over, all I can do is wish you well.”


Grrrl Power: Jan, Valerie, Tina, Amy and 1900 “Grrrlfriends”

Monday was Jan Schakowsky’s (D.,IL, U.S. House of Representatives, www.janschakowsky.org) annual “Power Lunch,” in today’s lingo, a real “grrrl power” gathering.

Equally importantly, it was a truly joyous opportunity for Jan’s legions of fans to thank her for being such a great leader of women.

This year, Jan’s featured speakers were “girlfriends” Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen, talking about life and work in the White House for our (maybe-not-the-first; see below) feminist President.

Both Valerie and Tina were eloquent, funny, informative and inspirational. Knowing them, I expected nothing less, but it was particularly inspiring when Valerie closed by inviting all of us to think about new ways to be of service in this time of great need.[Keep reading, and you’ll see why Valerie’s comments were so apt on this particular day.]

Another guest of Jan’s was U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D.,MN, www.amyklobuchar.com), a girlfriend of mine since her law school years here in Chicago with my husband. I was so pleased to invite Amy to join Jan’s celebration this year–when so much that is so wonderful, for women all over the world, has been made possible by the women of Chicago. I think Amy confirmed her understanding of this when she said: “Thanks for giving (the rest of) us Michelle Obama’s husband.”

This great day began on an inspirational note, when I read the do-not-miss column below about one of our great, great grandmothers, who also worked in the White House. As I read, I realized that, but for the courage she displayed, over 75 years ago, we might not have been able to celebrate quite so gloriously at our lunch.

Here is the article from womensenews.org

New Deal Began With Her, That Chilly Night in 1933
By Kirstin Downey, WeNews correspondent

(WOMENSENEWS)–“On a chilly February night in 1933, a middle-aged woman waited expectantly to meet with her employer at his residence on East 65th Street in New York City. She clutched a scrap of paper with hastily written notes. Finally ushered into his study, the woman brushed aside her nervousness and spoke confidently. They bantered casually for a while, as was their style, then she turned serious, her dark, luminous eyes holding his gaze.

“He wanted her to take an assignment but she had decided she wouldn’t accept it unless he allowed her to do it her own way. She held up the piece of paper in her hand, and he motioned for her to continue.

“She ticked off the items: a 40-hour work week, a minimum wage, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, a federal law banning child labor, direct federal aid for unemployment relief, Social Security, a revitalized public employment service and health insurance. She watched his eyes to make sure he was paying attention and understood the implications of each demand. She braced for his response, knowing that he often chose political expediency over idealism and was capable of callousness, even cruelty.

“The scope of her list was breathtaking. She was proposing a fundamental and radical restructuring of American society, with enactment of historic social welfare and labor laws. To succeed, she would have to overcome opposition from the courts, business, labor unions, conservatives.

“‘Nothing Like This Before’

“‘Nothing like this has ever been done in the United States before,’she said. You know that, don’t you?’

“The man sat across from her in his wheelchair amid the clutter of boxes and rumpled rugs. Soon, he would head to Washington, D.C., to be sworn in as the 32nd president of the United States. He would inherit the worst economic crisis in the nation’s history. An era of rampant speculation had come to an end. The stock market had collapsed, rendering investments valueless. Banks were shutting down, stripping people of their lifetime savings. About a third of workers were unemployed; wages were falling; tens of thousands were homeless. Real estate prices had plummeted and millions of homeowners faced foreclosure.

“His choice of labor secretary would be one of his most important early decisions. His nominee must understand economic and employment issues, but be equally effective as a coalition builder.

“He was a handsome man, with aquiline features, and he studied the plain, matronly woman sitting before him. No one was more qualified for the job. She knew as much about labor law and administration as anyone in the country. He’d known her for more than 20 years, the last four in Albany, where she had worked at his side. He trusted her and knew she would never betray him.

“But placing a woman in the labor secretary’s job would expose him to criticism and ridicule. Her list of proposals would stir heated opposition, even among his loyal supporters. The eight-hour day was a standard plank of the Socialist Party; unemployment insurance seemed laughably improbable; direct aid to the unemployed would threaten his campaign pledge of a balanced budget.

“He said he would back her.

“Life-Long Preparation

“It was a job she had prepared for all her life. She had changed her name, her appearance, even her stated age to make herself a more effective labor advocate. She had studied how men think so she could better succeed in a man’s world. She had spent decades building crucial alliances.

“Still, she told the president-elect that she needed time to make her decision. The next day she visited her husband, a patient in a sanitarium. He was having a good day and he understood when she told him about the job offer. His first impulse was to fret for himself, asking her how this new job might affect him. When she assured him that he could remain where he was and that her weekend visits would continue, he gave his permission.

“That night in bed, the woman cried in deep, wailing sobs that frightened her teenage daughter. She knew the job would change her life forever. She would open herself to constant media scrutiny, harsh judgment from her peers and public criticism for doing a job a woman had never done before. Yet she knew she must accept the offer. As her grandmother had told her, whenever a door opened to you, you had no choice but to walk through it.

“The next day she called Franklin Roosevelt and accepted the offer.

“Frances Perkins would become the nation’s first female secretary of labor.”

Kirstin Downey is the author of a new book, “The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience, The Woman Behind the New Deal,” Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2009. She was formerly a staff writer at the Washington Post, covering economics and workplace issues.


A Woman’s Nation

Three cheers for Maria Shriver and John Podesta for launching “A Woman’s Nation,” a Center for American Progress project to explore American women’s current status and opportunities. Go to http://www.americanprogress.org for more information.

But how do we get there from here? Here’s my (first) take on what it will take. This take focuses on lessons women seeking public office need to bear-in-mind.

“Be careful what you wish for”: As Caroline Kennedy’s recent experience teaches us, choose carefully lest you get tripped-up by the belief that all public service is equal in steeling one for the rigors of public scrutiny.

“Make no small plans”: As the Presidential election made clear, think big, and then move early and quickly, for day-to-day voting, fundraising and media exposure tar all and tar quickly.

“All politics is local”: Louisiana U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu’s recent re-election, in her ever-so-conservative state, suggests that creating an organizing plan–and compelling messages–for every single precinct— whether that precinct is defined by geography, demography, issue-interests, or any other measure that induces a crowd of potential voters to gather, can put one over-the-top in what otherwise looks like a very difficult situation.

“We don’t want nobody nobody sent”: Minnesota’s senior(and still only) U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar, spent years building her public policy and electoral experience. Now, by almost any measure, beginning with one created by the New York Times, Senator Klobuchar is on the short list of women who might become President one day.

For the numbers, go to:

Celinda Lake’s recent article in Women’s E-News,
, and to

Rutger’s Center for American Women and Poltics: http://www.cawp.org.

Rebecca Sive