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Archive for January, 2018

 Hillary’s comment on Facebook.

The most important work of my life has been to support and empower women. I’ve tried to do so here at home, around the world, and in the organizations I’ve run. I started in my twenties, and four decades later I’m nowhere near being done. I’m proud that it’s the work I’m most associated with, and it remains what I’m most dedicated to.

So I very much understand the question I’m being asked as to why I let an employee on my 2008 campaign keep his job despite his inappropriate workplace behavior.

The short answer is this: If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t.

Before giving some of the reasons why I made a different choice back then and why looking back I wish I’d done it differently, here’s what happened and what my thinking was at the time.

In 2007, a woman working on my campaign came forward with a complaint about her supervisor behaving inappropriately toward her. She and her complaint were taken seriously. Senior campaign staff and legal counsel spoke to both her and the offender. They determined that he had in fact engaged in inappropriate behavior. My then-campaign manager presented me with her findings. She recommended that he be fired. I asked for steps that could be taken short of termination. In the end, I decided to demote him, docking his pay; separate him from the woman; assign her to work directly for my then-deputy-campaign manager; put in place technical barriers to his emailing her; and require that he seek counseling. He would also be warned that any subsequent harassment of any kind toward anyone would result in immediate termination.

I did this because I didn’t think firing him was the best solution to the problem. He needed to be punished, change his behavior, and understand why his actions were wrong. The young woman needed to be able to thrive and feel safe. I thought both could happen without him losing his job. I believed the punishment was severe and the message to him unambiguous.

I also believe in second chances. I’ve been given second chances and I have given them to others. I want to continue to believe in them. But sometimes they’re squandered. In this case, while there were no further complaints against him for the duration of the campaign, several years after working for me he was terminated from another job for inappropriate behavior. That reoccurrence troubles me greatly, and it alone makes clear that the lesson I hoped he had learned while working for me went unheeded. Would he have done better – been better – if I had fired him? Would he have gotten that next job? There is no way I can go back 10 years and know the answers. But you can bet I’m asking myself these questions right now.

Over the years, I have made, directly and indirectly, thousands of personnel decisions – everything from hiring to promoting to disciplining to firing. Most of these decisions worked out well. But I’ve gotten some wrong: I’ve hired the wrong people for the wrong jobs; I’ve come down on people too hard at times. Through it all, I’ve always taken firing very seriously. Taking away someone’s livelihood is perhaps the most serious thing an employer can do. When faced with a situation like this, if I think it’s possible to avoid termination while still doing right by everyone involved, I am inclined in that direction. I do not put this forward as a virtue or a vice – just as a fact about how I view these matters.

When The New York Times reported on this incident last week, my first thought was for the young woman involved. So I reached out to her – most importantly, to see how she was doing, but also to help me reflect on my decision and its consequences. It’s never easy when something painful or personal like this surfaces, much less when it appears all over the news. I called her not knowing what I’d hear. Whatever she had to say, I wanted her to be able to say it, and say it to me.

She expressed appreciation that she worked on a campaign where she knew she could come forward without fear. She was glad that her accusations were taken seriously, that there was a clear process in place for dealing with harassment, and that it was followed. Most importantly, she told me that for the remainder of the campaign, she flourished in her new role. We talked about her career, policy issues related to the work she’s doing now, and her commitment to public service. I told her how grateful I was to her for working on my campaign and believing in me as a candidate. She’s read every word of this and has given me permission to share it.

It was reassuring to hear that she felt supported back then – and that all these years later, those feelings haven’t changed. That again left me glad that my campaign had in place a comprehensive process for dealing with complaints. The fact that the woman involved felt heard and supported reinforced my belief that the process worked – at least to a degree. At the time, I believed the punishment I imposed was severe and fit the offense. Indeed, while we are revisiting whether my decision from a decade ago was harsh enough, many employers would be well served to take actions at least as severe when confronted with problems now – including the very media outlet that broke this story. They recently opted to suspend and reinstate one of their journalists who exhibited similarly inappropriate behavior, rather than terminate him. A decade from now, that decision may not look as tough as it feels today. The norms around sexual harassment will likely have continued to change as swiftly and significantly in the years to come as they have over the years until now.

Over the past year, a seismic shift has occurred in the way we approach and respond to sexual harassment, both as a society and as individuals. This shift was long overdue. It occurred thanks to women across industries who stood up and spoke out, from Hollywood to sports to farm workers – to the very woman who worked for me.

For most of my life, harassment wasn’t something talked about or even acknowledged. More women than not experience it to some degree in their life, and until recently, the response was often to laugh it off or tough it out. That’s changing, and that’s a good thing. My own decision to write in my memoir about my experiences being sexually harassed and physically threatened early in my career – the first time was in college – was more agonizing than it should have been. I know that I’m one of the lucky ones, and what happened to me seemed so commonplace that I wondered if it was even worth sharing. But in the end, that’s exactly why I chose to write about it: because I don’t want this behavior or these attitudes to be accepted as “normal” for any woman, especially those just starting out in their lives.

No woman should have to endure harassment or assault – at work, at school, or anywhere. And men are now on notice that they will truly be held accountable for their actions. Especially now, we all need to be thinking about the complexities of sexual harassment, and be willing to challenge ourselves to reassess and question our own views.

In other words, everyone’s now on their second chance, both the offenders and the decision-makers. Let’s do our best to make the most of it.

We can’t go back, but we can certainly look back, informed by the present. We can acknowledge that even those of us who have spent much of our life thinking about gender issues and who have firsthand experiences of navigating a male-dominated industry or career may not always get it right.

I recognize that the situation on my 2008 campaign was unusual in that a woman complained to a woman who brought the issue to a woman who was the ultimate decision maker. There was no man in the chain of command. The boss was a woman. Does a woman have a responsibility to come down even harder on the perpetrator? I don’t know. But I do believe that a woman boss has an extra responsibility to look out for the women who work for her, and to better understand how issues like these can affect them.

I was inspired by my conversation with this young woman to express my own thinking on the matter. You may question why it’s taken me time to speak on this at length. The answer is simple: I’ve been grappling with this and thinking about how best to share my thoughts. I hope that my doing so will push others to keep having this conversation – to ask and try to answer the hard questions, not just in the abstract but in the real-life contexts of our roles as men, women, bosses, employees, advocates, and public officials. I hope that women will continue to talk and write about their own experiences and that they will continue leading this critical debate, which, done right, will lead to a better, fairer, safer country for us all.

I am with Hillary on this. I have been in the position of deciding whether or not to fire people – more than I would have liked. It is a radical decision. As Hillary relates the event, she saw it as a teaching moment. She chose a lesson delivery that she thought would be effective. In the end it was not. As a career educator, I can also relate to that. When the lesson fails, you always must look back and analyze why it failed and how it could have been better delivered.

As I said when I first posted on this issue, Hillary is the first person to admit that she is not perfect and sometimes, like all of us, makes mistakes. Maybe this was a mistake. But it is only by trial and error that we learn what works. Ask Edison and the Wright Brothers.

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Everyone knows that Catholics confess. Not everyone knows that, before they do, they perform an examination of conscience: a mental inventory of their sins. It is a purposeful, conscious act. But it is not the only way for the conscience to bring past failures to the surface. Conversations revisiting the past can serve that purpose. Apparently that is what happened to Jeffrey Toobin.

Before posting this, I want to say that, among media personalities, Toobin is one that I found least offensive in the 2015-2016 election cycle, yet he feels some guilt.



Candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on stage during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis in October 2016. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

So long as President Trump continues disgracing the Oval Office, thoughtful people will probe their own role in helping him get there.

Such appeared to be the motivation behind a mea culpa issued by CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on comedian Larry Wilmore’s “Black on the Air” podcast. In a discussion of presidential politics, Wilmore argued that Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, was the victim of a “coordinated attack” coming from Republicans. “Benghazi was … the expression of that attack. In fact, what’s his name, was it [former Rep. Jason] Chaffetz who actually kind of agreed that that’s what they were doing, was weakening her as a candidate.” (Wilmore may have been referring to Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who said in 2015, ““Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.”)

No question about the attack on Clinton, responded Toobin, citing “all that bogus stuff about the Clinton Foundation” — perhaps a reference to the Uranium One story or even to the pre-election reporting of Bret Baier — later withdrawn — that there would be an indictment relating to the foundation.

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Perhaps it is time for other media personalities to examine their roles in the avalanche of false equivalences that preoccupied reportage during the election cycle. After all, their “normal” role is to communicate postions on issues and policies put forth by candidates. There was an imbalance to these false equivalences. Trump’s bad behavior and prejudices were right out front for all to see. Of course they merited reporting. Bells and whistles should have gone off when the negatives they reported on the other side were obscure and lacked evidence.

Donald Trump was an unusually immoral candidate. Reporting his indiscretions and outrageous remarks should not have precipitated a hunt for transgressions on the other side so assiduous as to co-opt fictions being circulated by questionable sources. Their normal job should have been to question those sources and to report the excellent and extensive policies and plans Hillary Clinton was outlining at every campaign stop.

It is time for all of them to examine their consciences. We can thank Jeffrey Toobin for leading the way.

 

 

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When a dream comes true, even if only for a moment…

 

Hillary Clinton trolls Trump in a surprise appearance at the 2018 Grammys

(CNN)Hillary Clinton made a surprise appearance on Sunday night in a Grammy Awards comedy bit that took a jab at President Trump.

The former presidential candidate, along with Cher, Snoop Dogg, Cardi B, John Legend and DJ Khaled were among those who read excerpts from Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” the hit book about Trump’s first year in the White House.

The bit shows Grammy host James Corden holding auditions for the book reading in hopes of nabbing next year’s best spoken word album with famous musicians trying out for the coveted role.

Clinton’s face was covered by the book when she first appeared on screen in the pre-taped sketch, but the crowd cheered when she lowered the book to reveal her face.

Clinton read the famous line about Trump’s love for fast food: “He had a longtime fear of being poisoned. One reason why he liked to eat at McDonalds. No one knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made.”

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Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton attended the MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Fleetwood Mac at Radio City Music Hall on January 26, 2018 in New York City.


Former president Bill Clinton will always share a bond with the music of Fleetwood Mac, first using the band’s Don’t Stop as his campaign theme for 1992 presidential run, and hosting several Fleetwood Mac performances during his time in office.

Clinton reunited with the band onstage Friday night to present them with the MusiCares Person of the Year award, with the Grammys-associated charity honoring the group for their creative accomplishments and contributions to charitable causes.

“I did win two Grammys, and I also have a date tonight who won a Grammy herself — Hillary came with me tonight,” Clinton said, as the crowd gave Hillary a standing ovation.

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Image result for hillary clinton musicares

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The story went viral, so it deserves some attention here. I agree with Gail Collins on this one.


Hillary Clinton after winning the Nevada Democratic caucus vote in 2008. Todd Heisler/The New York Times

I’m sorry, gentle reader. You’ve spent the week listening to terrible news on everything from flu to foreign affairs, and now we’ve got a story about how Hillary Clinton tolerated sexual harassment in her presidential campaign.

There are several ways to handle this, and one is definitely to consider moving to another country. Another is to say that you’re not going to listen to any of this as long as the country is run by a man whose track record on sexual issues is Cro-Magnon. Or to ask what would have happened to Hillary if she had been recorded bragging about how fame gives her the right to grab men by their private parts.

But let’s be tough-minded and think this new controversy through: According to a Times report by Maggie Haberman and Amy Chozick, during the 2008 presidential campaign, a senior Clinton aide named Burns Strider was accused of sexually harassing a woman who had the bad luck to be working in his office. Clinton’s campaign manager recommended he be fired. Instead, the candidate opted for sending him to counseling and docking him several weeks’ pay. The law firm that worked for the campaign said it had set up a process for handling sexual harassment complaints and this was “appropriate action.”

One of the deep, deep ironies of this story is Strider’s job, which was “faith adviser.” Among his duties was sending Clinton scriptural passages every morning.

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Things I take into consideration here: As Gail points out it was a first offense, and he likely would have remained in the Democratic Party system anyway. It was ten years ago when the landscape was very different. Hillary’s 2008 campaign differed from her 2016 campaign. The earlier campaign was not focused as heavily on women’s issues as the later one. In fact, advisors steered her away from the “woman candidate” role then.

Finally, and this is key to my take, no one, least of all Hillary Clinton, has ever said Hillary Clinton was perfect. It was an imperfect decision. She is human and makes mistakes.


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EXCLUSIVE

Julia Gillard and Hillary Clinton plan to work together to challenge negative stereotypes of females who aspire to be political leaders and to encourage more women to nominate for public office.

The pair have discussed the impact of gender on their political careers and plan to collaborate in changing the perceptions of female leaders as unlikeable, selfish and ruthless.

Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard plan to change perceptions of female leaders.

Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard plan to change perceptions of female leaders. Photo: AP

“I’m hopeful there are some things we can do together in the future on these questions of leadership and gender, bringing to that possibility some of our shared experiences,” Ms Gillard said in an exclusive interview.

“Personally, I think there’s a need to deepen the evidence base about women in leadership,” she added, saying there was already much research on the role of ‘unconscious bias’ in attitudes to female political leaders.

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Don’t assume she isn’t working just because you don’t see her.

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