About Gail
About the Book
Media Room

Press Kit:

One Sheet >>
Photo >>

To download Photo:
1.Click on the photo link above. A new window with the image or document will show up.
2. Windows users, right-click image. Mac users, click-and-hold image.
3. Choose 'Save Picture As.'
4.Choose a location to save the image; then click 'Save.'


GailForce: McCain vs. Obama and Female Political Perceptions
By Gail Harris
Durango Guardian

Yesterday I followed my usual morning routine of having one of the morning news programs on as I showered, dressed and made up my bed. My normal habit is to use half of my conscious brain to listen to news items and the other half to plan out my day. I work out of my home, but living in a great place like Durango, it's easy to get distracted by the thought of going on a bike ride or a hike. I've found if I figure out my professional obligations for the day early on, there's less of a chance I'll play hooky.

As I rooted around, I heard one of the newscasters say for the first time that John McCain had surged ahead of Barack Obama in the polls. Apparently what had put him on top was a 20 percent increase in the number of female voters supporting him.

I found it interesting that the "talking political heads" couldn't understand why since both McCain and his running mate were pro-choice. The answer was staring them right in the face and they couldn't see it!

All the talking heads used that morning were males. I wondered if they didn't get it because they weren't able to understand the female point of view on this issue. You know, the whole men are from Mars, women from Venus thing that John Gray spoke so eloquently and well about in his best selling book. When any of my male buddies call and ask for dating advice, I always refer them to that book for help in understanding the female species.

To me it was pretty simple -- ignore or down play the concerns and opinions of women who now make up 51 percent of the population at your own risk. Call it "The Hillary Effect" or whatever you want. The bottom line is the perception by many, but not all, women that both the media and the democratic leadership did not give Senator Clinton the professional respect she deserved during the primary campaign solely because she was a woman.

This is not about Senator Clinton, but about whether women are still not being taken seriously in the highest sectors of Democratic Party leadership. Case in point, the famous news clip of the young man who stood up during one of the Senator's speeches and screamed, "Iron my shirt." I don't monitor the news 24/7, but I did not hear of one instance of any of the male candidates or leaders of the Democratic Party taking that sentiment to task.

I believe the young man in question is entitled to freedom of speech. As a retired military professional my deeply held belief during my time on active duty, and even now, has always been -- I may not agree with what you say, but will defend your right to say it with my life.

I can't help but wonder though what would the reaction have been if someone stood up while Senator Obama was giving a talk and screamed, "Hey Boy, get over here and shine my shoes." I suspect there would have been a large outcry from the media and members of both parties about the inappropriateness of that sentiment. Perhaps Senator Obama and/or the Democratic leadership did take that young man's comments to task. If they did, they certainly didn't ensure it got wide circulation.

It wasn't just that moment that raised the hackles of some (notice I say some, not all). It was also media reports of senior Democratic Party members consistently trying to force Senator Clinton to drop out of the race even when she still had a chance to win. I remember at one point in the campaign the media reports were saying that Obama was a done deal and that Clinton had no chance. I happened to see a delegate count, and Clinton was way ahead of Obama at the time, although you'd never know it by the media coverage.

What has this got to do with the subject at hand? I'll answer that by way of a story. Recently I was sitting around with a bunch of fellow baby boomers discussing affirmative action. It was a mixed group of ethic minorities and both men and women. We shared stories of overcoming attitudes in the work place by co-workers who felt we were not qualified to be there but were only in the job because someone was pushing a flawed social policy on them.

One of the guys gave the best explanation I've ever heard of affirmative action. He said, "Affirmative action policies did not force someone to give me a job. What it did was force someone to look at my resume." Hold the hate mail; I'm not saying the policy was right or wrong, just giving an example to illustrate a point. I will address affirmative action at some future time.

I think the anger many women are still feeling is that the Democratic Party leadership, who espouse job equality among other social policies, did not seriously look at all the available resumes. As Obama deliberated over potential Vice Presidential candidates, except for Senator Clinton, I heard no other female names mentioned. What about Nancy Pelosi or other prominent female Democratic politicians? Were any of them considered? I believe the Democrats have left themselves open to the perception that they speak about job equality, but, when push comes to shove, don't always practice it.

By picking a female Vice Presidential candidate, John McCain is perceived as saying, "You guys talked the talk of sexual equality, but we're actually doing it." Perception is not necessarily reality, but I learned early in my professional career that it has to be addressed. If people perceive something as true, they will make decisions based on that perception whether it's actually true or not.

As always, my opinions are my own. I'm just a retired Baby Boomer living happily ever after in the Rocky Mountains. It has stopped raining outside, think I'll go for a bike ride.

In 1973, Gail Harris became the first woman in Naval History to serve as an Intelligence Officer in a Navy aviation squadron, and at her retirement in December 2001, she was the highest ranking African American female in the Navy. Her career included hands-on leadership during every major conflict from the Cold War, to El Salvador, to Desert Storm, to Kosovo and at the forefront of one of the Department of Defense's newest challenges, Cyber Warfare. Since retiring, Gail has worked in the defense industry as an intelligence subject matter expert. In October 2006, she had an essay "Reflections of a Retired Black Woman" published in Lies and Limericks Inspirations from Ireland. A frequent guest on radio shows as a defense expert, Gail also hosts a weekly R&B show and is currently putting the finishing touches on her memoir "A Woman's War".

Copyright © 2008 Durango Guardian The Eyes, Ears, Voice of the People. All rights reserved.
An Electronic Newspaper Serving Bayfield, Durango, Ignacio & La Plata County, Colorado

Copyright© 2009       Gail Harris       Email: info@gailharrisspeaker.com
Webdesign by PlanetLink