Meanwhile, it looks like a silent spring for Hil. Last seen, she was deep in agricultural Dullsville at the Elks Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, where she entertained the audience of 300 concerned rural folks with statements such as this: “I was once asked why I spent so much time on agriculture issues in the last four years. I answered, ‘Because I like to eat.’ ” And this: “If we don’t move toward energy independence, shame on us.”
Figuring out which way Hillary is drifting has become a full-time job for right and left alike ever since she appeared to be backing away from a woman’s right to choose when it comes to abortion. “I believe we can all recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women,” she declared in January. “Often, it’s a failure of our system of education, health care, and preventive services. It’s often a result of family dynamics. This decision is a profound and complicated one; a difficult one, often the most difficult that a woman will ever make. The fact is that the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place.”
While the old-fart pols contort over whether it’s good or bad for Hil to run, more female fresh faces are moving up the ladder in Congress and will soon be in a position of enveloping the tired old singsong from Hillary, Nancy Pelosi, and others. It was Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz who ran Democratic opposition to Republican efforts to reinsert Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube. The Republicans put Kentucky congresswoman Anne Northrup in front of the cameras to sell Bush’s Social Security changes, and Democrats Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Barbara Boxer of California, and Patty Murray of Washington all took on leadership positions within the Senate. Elizabeth Dole, a North Carolina Republican who ran for president in 2000 and who has served in two cabinet posts, became the first woman ever to chair her party’s campaign committee.
“Women now hold 14 seats in the Senate and 66 seats in the House, not including three non-voting members from Guam, the District of Columbia, and the U. S. Virgin Islands,” reports the spirited website womensenews.org. “Although they make up 51 percent of the population, women now comprise roughly 15 percent of Congress, figures that have risen only gradually since 1992, the year women nearly doubled their representation in the House and the Senate.”
Pelosi gets much of the attention now, but the others are coming on fast. Democratic women in the Senate hold two out of seven leadership positions; Republican female senators hold two out of six. In the House, Republican women hold one out of nine leadership posts and Democratic women two out of eight. “Women aren’t just tokens anymore,” California congresswoman Hilda Solis told Womensenews. “We’re on committees. We’re ranking members on committees. We’re even on Meet the Press.”
Additional reporting: Nicole Duarte
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 29, 2005