Girls’ School for Politics Open Now


School has begun in earnest for us girls enrolled in the school of politics. So, girlfriends, sit-up straight and pay attention, for these past two school days and nights likely taught us more than we may learn during any other two anytime soon.

Why? Well, Wednesday night we had the Great Debate, and  last night we had the Great Speech; together a veritable feast for our school’s students.

Besides, in case you hadn’t noticed, due to all the kerfuffle (even his hair is kerfuffly) over Rick Perry’s enrollment, Michele Bachmann is still the only girl in our senior class. And, even if she didn’t get the “A” Wednesday night she got in last semester’s debate club season, she’s still worth paying attention to. After all, this semester goes on for a while.

Of course, last night was when our school principal (that would be President Obama) gave us his lesson plan in his Great Speech.

Then, after we broke for what the schoolboys say is the most important school event this week (nope: not the debate or the speech, but the football game), the question is: What would another (flying-solo) woman have said if she’d been the one lecturing last night? If she were school principal, what would Hillary Clinton’s Great Speech have been?

A lot of my sister students in the school of politics think a Hillary Clinton Great Speech would be different (and better) than Barack Obama’s. But, more importantly for all of you political girls who would be in the senior class, that wouldn’t be because Hillary Clinton attends a different school of politics than Barack Obama. She doesn’t. She’s enrolled in the same one as President Obama. Just like Michele Bachmann is enrolled in the same one as Rick Perry. In fact, it’s the same school for all of them: The school where you learn how to be a politician.

But, as Chris Cillizza and Mike Allen constantly remind us (Political Girlfriends: Here’s an important tip: If you don’t already read them, start today.), the school of politics’ most important lesson isn’t about the substance of, say, a Great Speech, but about the process of giving it successfully, about the recipe for success, no matter what the ingredients.

Here is what Cillizza and Allen won’t tell you girls, but this sister will, about the school’s prerequisites.

Believe this, no matter what happens. Believe that:

  1. Your attempts at good works matter (because if you ever think they don’t, you won’t possibly be able to put up with Washington, or, for that matter, with any state capital).
  2. You have no self-doubt. (As a consequence, you can get up in the morning and spout foolishness, if that’s what called for.)
  3. There is redemption, no matter what religion you profess — or don’t (for there surely will be times when you don’t like what’s going on).
  4. Your modest pay isn’t the only financial reward of the job. (Think about it: Your government paycheck may open the door to better-paying private-sector gigs, and will open the door to perqs that the average person living on your salary isn’t able to attain.)
  5. You love being fawned over and think that nothing beats it. (Anthony Weiner should have remembered this one.)
  6. You absolutely know how to make the world a better place.
  7. You like to see your name in the paper.
  8. You like it when reporters call you.
  9. You like seeing the rest of us grovel and beg you for stuff.

And the most important belief? That, 24-7, you’re willing to keep playing politics, even if you don’t get an “A” every day, because you continue to believe that, at least once in a while, you will succeed in making our world a better place.

Yes, sometimes political girls — just like political boys — don’t execute as well as they need to or have the best ideas for how to get things done. That would be Michele Bachmann Wednesday night. No problem. Back to school.

As to the rest of you political girls: on to the rest of the semester, the aftermath of the Great Speech and the football game. Sit up straight. Listen, watch and pay attention to all the schoolboys’ plays. Then, think about whether you want to run those plays.

I hope you do, for we need lots more girls in the debate club and on every playing field.

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