Fiona's Blog: Do's and Don'ts of Politics
Do: Support and defend a person’s right to express their views, even if you don’t agree with them. Kudos to John DeGioia, President of Georgetown University for publicly advocating on behalf of Georgetown student and recent celebrity Sandra Fluke after she was publicly attacked for her stance during the recent contraception hearings. DeGioia said, “She provided a model of civil discourse. This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people. One need not agree with her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression.” You go, DeGioia!
Don’t: Call someone a prostitute and request that they post a sex video online because you disagree with their opinions. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Rush Limbaugh. Just because Sandra Fluke disagrees with your position on birth control and believes it should be covered in Obama’s healthcare plan does not, in fact, mean she owes you a sex tape. In fact, I can’t really think of any situation in which a woman would owe you a sex tape, Rush, but that’s another matter.
Do: Show solidarity with women’s issues if you’re president during a so-called “war on women” by offering to speak at the commencement of a prestigious women’s college. Obama recently announced that he will be addressing students at the 2012 Barnard commencement ceremony, an offer that will most likely gain him support with women voters, many of whom are feeling quite shaken (understandably) after the recent contraception hearings—and, you know, the Fluke sex-tape request business.
Don’t: Tell the women in your commencement speech that their job should be to influence “man and boy” through the “humble role of housewife.” Obama may want to consider this piece of advice as he prepares his Barnard commencement speech—Adlai E. Stevenson uttered these exact words when he gave the commencement speech at Smith College in 1955. Spoiler: he wasn’t elected President.
Do: Be willing to vote against your party’s agenda when you believe it’s right. Olympia Snowe has shown herself to be unshakable in her beliefs, voting against her party during the contraception hearings. She was the only Republican to vote against the birth control exempt amendment. It’s too bad she now feels she has to quit the senate because she’s fed up with how partisan it has become.
Don’t: Criticize another Presidential candidate for voting in a certain way, when you yourself didn’t even show up for the vote. That’s right Obama, we know you weren’t there during the vote on an Iran resolution that you blasted Hillary for, and while the election may be over, Congresswoman Snowe’s admirable ability to stray from party lines makes us remember what we like to see in a politician’s voting record.
Do: React with humor when someone spills five beers down your shirt, even if you are the most powerful woman in Germany. That’s right, Angela Merkel—here’s to you for taking that incident so lightly. Your public image will forever remain unstained—which is more than we can say for the back of your suit. Cheers.
Don’t: Massage the shoulders of the most powerful woman in Germany at a G-8 summit, because you think that’s the appropriate way to treat women. While Angela Merkel handled the beer incident with a short giggle, she did not respond in kind when George W. Bush performed this awkward massage in 2006—and who can blame her? If you’re curious, you can view footage of Bush Jr.’s misguided gesture here.
Fiona Lowenstein is a high school senior, weekly guest blogger and Girls Leadership Institute alumna. Read more of her work here.