No question that watching the Democratic National Convention (DNC) has stirred up many strong emotions for me. I was so exhausted by my feelings that I even have to confess: I fell asleep in the middle of Bill Clinton's speech. No matter how much I love President Clinton, another true confession------this wasn't the first Clinton speech that put me out. I am sure I'm not alone on that one.
But this piece isn't about Bill Clinton. I'm going to leave it to others to slice and dice all of the terrific fodder that was left in the wake of his speech. My friend AnnaBelle was one of the first out of the gate with some gripping commentary on the Clinton speech.
No, I'm here to herald something terrific that happened at the DNC. I was driving around Columbus to get to the gym so I could swim my laps before Clinton came on, and I was treated to what was for me THE precious pearl of the DNC. Like many of you, I have XM radio and thus can listen to the audio cable feed from Fox, CNN, MSNBC, Bloomberg, and others. For the presidential campaign season, as was done in 2008, CSPAN has put its own special programming on XM radio, a channel it calls POTUS which gives minimal commentary during the speeches, and lots of rather balanced discussion the rest of the time.
So around 7:30 ish, I got to hear what I had been searching for. Finally, there was a tribute to the Democratic women who serve in the Senate. They were all introduced by name, they all came out onto the stage, and it was Senator Barbara Mikulski who did the speaking. Here is her speech:
She started out talking about how she was the only woman in the Senate when she arrived 25 years ago, but she was determined not to remain the only one. Her speech also included some of the Democratic boilerplate that the rest of the DNC speeches had, but with a female twist.
The commentators on POTUS said a couple things of interest too. First of all they made note of that fact that the numbers of women were small-----very small. 9% small. And also when it was Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's turn to be introduced, the POTUS people also mentioned that her name was being bandied about as a future presidential candidate.
I don't know about you, but I would much rather have seen this piece of the convention in prime time. It is THIS tableau that would have spoken to a much wider group of women than hearing Sandra Fluke relaying her experience. I found the Fluke appearance demeaning. A topic for another day however 'cause I'm here to celebrate. Sort of.
If Gillibrand is a name in the Democratic presidential pipeline, why in the world wasn't she given a prominent speaking slot at the DNC? I would also have loved to have heard more talk from the podium about electing more women and less about abortion.
So to people who like to criticize me as voting antiwoman, the two conventions have made my point clearly. The Republicans have alot of women in their bench who would make great presidents, and they highlighted them in prime time for the whole country to see. Amazing women like Condi Rice, Governor Susanah Martinez, Governor Nikki Haley, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, etc.
The Democrats have even MORE women in Congress than the Republicans. A truly sizeable number more. They could have highlighted this fact to their advantage in a big way. It would have given them HUGE cred for calling themselves the party of women. They could have highlighted their historic first woman Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and had her speak about how there are more Democratic women in the House than that which the other side has. Even though the House Democrats are in the minority with a 25 seat deficit, there are more Democratic than Republican women who serve in the House. I heard the Pelosi speech. It was dull. It repeated the mantra of every speaker on the schedule. Nothing much mentioned about the women of the House. But that has been her style all along. And it hasn't helped women.
Senator Mikulski however, gave more of the speech I wanted to hear. I hope you will take the time to listen to it. It in itself wasn't hugely amazing. What there is to listen for is the reminder that we feminists have left a large piece of unfinished business on the table, and that is to achieve equal representation for ourselves. And on balance, that message has been largely absent from the Democrats. The emphasis has been on-----surprise------abortion and reproduction.
I know women and men long for this era of equal representation to be upon us. There is a huge disconnect that it isn't being discussed more in lieu of other issues brought to the forefront that, excuse my sarcasm, the party idiots THINK women want to hear. How is it that in 2012 we have so few women in office? And why isn't that the REAL women's issue of the day?
So while I continue to be disappointed in the Democrats for once again missing obvious opportunities for promoting more women, I was glad to hear our own Big Dawg, Senator Mikulski remind us that time's a wasting as far as electing more women is concerned. I only hope that someday the Democrats get themselves out of their reproductive rut and focus again on getting more women elected. I mean REALLY focus like a laser on it. Why, they might even regain the majority on such a platform. Hmmmm----platform business? Maybe we should work to get that kind of language into both parties' platforms.........