Why Women Should Rule the World

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-01-01
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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When President Bill Clinton was elected, Dee Dee Myers was told she would act as his Press Secretary, but only for the transition. There was no guarantee she would keep the position after his inauguration. Only 31 at the time, Myers was too intoxicated by victory to realise she was being shortchanged. But in January of 1993, Myers did become Press Secretary in spite of the odds. She was the youngest person ever and the only woman in the history of the country to hold the position. As she writes in this poignant new book, 'I wasn't the first woman to be the first woman, of course. I stand on the shoulders of the countless others who stuck their necks out - and sometimes got their heads knocked off - for going where no woman had gone before. Not all of them were trying to advance the interests of the sisterhood. Still, because of them, those of us who followed have had more, different, and better opportunities. I know I have.'

Author Biography

Dee Dee Myers served as White House press secretary during Bill Clinton's first term. She was the first woman to hold that position. She is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, a political analyst and commentator, and a lecturer on politics and women's issues. She lives with her husband and their children in Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Why Women Don't Rule the World
Between a Political Rock and a Promisep. 15
Why Can't a Woman (Be More Like a Man)p. 39
Biology, Ideology, and Differencep. 61
Why Women Should Rule The World
If the Three Wise Men Had Been Womenp. 85
The Nature of Violencep. 105
Getting to Win-Winp. 129
How Women Can Rule The World
Plugging the Leaky Pipelinep. 153
Closing the Confidence Gapp. 175
Seeing Is Believingp. 197
Reaching Critical Massp. 219
Acknowledgmentsp. 241
Notesp. 245
Bibliographyp. 267
Indexp. 271
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


Why Women Should Rule the World

Chapter One

Between a Political Rock and a Promise

"When a man gets up to speak, people listen, then look. When a woman gets up to speak, people look; then if they like what they see, they listen."
—Pauline Frederick

Just six days before Bill Clinton was sworn in as the forty-third president of the United States, he announced that I would become White House press secretary—the first woman, and at thirty-one, one of the youngest people ever to hold the job. Oddly, I can hardly remember the exact moment when it happened. I remember being at the Old State House along the banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock. I remember being surrounded by many of the friends and colleagues I’d worked with on the campaign across the previous fifteen months. And after checking old newspaper clips, I know that the president-elect introduced a handful of top staff himself, before turning the podium over to Mack McLarty, his newly appointed chief of staff, to fill out the roster of once and future aides, including me.

But like so many of my memories from that time, this one feels a little freighted. A moment that might have been grand and indelible and joyful is wrapped in strands of more complex emotion, like uncertainty, trepidation, and disappointment.

Of course, I was thrilled at the prospect of working at the White House. It was something I had dreamed about since I caught the political bug in college. A few years ago, my friend Red produced a letter I had written to him from France during my junior year abroad; the return address was "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue." But I never really believed it would happen—certainly not as the White House press secretary. Yet here I was, getting ready to accompany a young and energetic new president to Washington. As part of the original campaign team, I felt I had a stake in this extraordinary journey, and I was eager to take the next leg.But there was so much more to this particular story.

When I went to work for Bill Clinton in December of 1991, he was the longest of long shots. George H. W. Bush was still popular in the wake of the Gulf War, and it seemed impossible that a cocky, young governor from a poor Southern state could win the Democratic primary, let alone defeat an incumbent. But I didn’t care. I’d met Clinton a few times over the years, and he impressed me. He was talking about things that I thought Democrats needed to talk about, from heath care and welfare reform to lifelong education for workers to keep them competitive in a changing economy. When I interviewed with Clinton for a job as the campaign’s national press secretary early that fall, he didn’t ask me a single question about my background or qualifications; we focused, instead, on his vision for the country. Bill Clinton knew why he wanted to be president. Fifteen minutes into our conversation on a car ride from the Hollywood Hills to the San Fernando Valley, I was sure I wanted to work for him. A few days later, I was offered the job.

As I joined the campaign, I thought I had little to lose. Four years earlier, I’d been a state press secretary in the Dukakis campaign; now I would be national press secretary. It was a huge step up in responsibility and visibility, and I knew I’d gain valuable experience. If Clinton lost, I’d be well positioned for the next presidential cycle four years later, when there would be no incumbent. And if he won? Well, my mind could hardly go there.

I spent most of the next year on an airplane, as Clinton survived a series of political near-death experiences, won the Democratic nomination, and was elected president of the United States.

Winning was a new experience for me, as virtually every candidate I’d ever worked for had lost. I remember standing in a bar somewhere in Little Rock on election night—basking in the novel glow of victory, cocktail in hand—when it occurred to me: We have to work tomorrow! So I rounded up the members of my team, and we came up with a plan to staff the press office beginning at eight o’clock the following morning. Our department alone got nearly 900 phone calls in the next two days.

The long and competitive campaign had taken a toll on the candidate, the staff, and the reporters who chronicled our every move. But as soon as the race ended, we had to dig out from under our exhaustion and start a new, equally intense mission: preparing Bill Clinton to assume the presidency at precisely twelve noon on January 20, 1993. There had been some transition planning at the top levels of the campaign in the weeks leading up to the election; after all, Clinton had led in the polls since the Democratic convention in July. But it had not trickled down to many of the people who would be expected to run the day-to-day operations of a president-in-waiting.

It took more than a week for the transition staff to be officially named. The delay was discomfiting, but the actual news did little to clarify my future. I was told that I would be press secretary to the transition, but that I shouldn’t infer from that that I would be White House press secretary. The blunt message stunned me. I certainly didn’t expect that my role in the transition would guarantee me a particular job in Washington. And while I wanted to be press secretary—and I’d earned my stripes over the previous decade, particularly during the recently ended campaign—I knew I didn’t have the perfect résumé. I was thirty-one years old, I had never lived or worked in Washington, and I was a woman.

As November became December, I tried not to focus on the personnel rumors that swirled in the absence of any real news. Myers is in. Myers is out. Clinton doesn’t know what to do about Myers. Bit by bit, Clinton pieced together his cabinet, unveiling his choices in a series of press conferences. But as the holidays approached, the White House staff remained a missing part of the puzzle.

Why Women Should Rule the World. Copyright © by Dee Dee Myers. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Why Women Should Rule the World by Dee Dee Myers
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