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Archive for the ‘2008 Election’ Category

 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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I know this will get me in trouble with some people, but I really don’t care anymore. I am burnt out every which way and sick and tired of people urging another campaign when all they bothered to do (maybe) was vote. Maybe!

To all the people typing #HRC2020, please consider this.

From the moment on May 31, 2008 that the Rules and Bylaws Committee threw Hillary Clinton delegates Obama’s way, a faction of the Democratic Party began saving money.

We called ourselves PUMAs, and the money we saved was with an eye toward a future Hillary Clinton candidacy.

This PUMA faction remained close-knit over the years via social media. There are Facebook groups and a network of people who stayed connected. We were not closed or secret. We were not afraid. We were public, open, and proud. We encountered abuse and fought back. We were dedicated to Hillary and her agenda.

When Hillary declared in April 2015, this faction sprang into action. We were ready. We had stayed in training. We donated, signed up to start fund raising, joined various campaign committees, and volunteered.

Some younger folks quit jobs to join the campaign, travel around the country at their own expense, and volunteer in battleground states. Bear in mind that when they did this, they gave up income and job benefits including health insurance and retirement plans while their student loans remained due. They did it anyway.

The rest of us signed up to volunteer locally. We phone banked, knocked on doors, and traveled en masse by bus to nearby battleground states on weekends to walk the neighborhoods and knock on doors.

Campaigning was at least a part-time job for us. For some it was a full-time job, and we paid to do it. We did it with pleasure and devotion.

All campaigns come to a frenzied end. 2016 was no exception. The primary season and then the general were furiously busy no matter what your role in the campaign was. It was a two-step that we had not been through in 2008. We poured everything we had into it.

After the results on 11/08/2016, the battle was not over. Soon thereafter, official recounts were initiated. We had to round up folks to participate in recounts in some states. The work continued. Many volunteered.

It is very easy to type a hashtag, especially if you had little or no investment in what was done between April 2015 and December 2016.

You are not only demanding that Hillary run and do it all again. You are demanding that all the people who made these sacrifices jump back into action with ease.

Here is the truth. Those that relinquished their jobs to volunteer then had to find other jobs and begin all over again – and, as I said, many still have student loans to repay.

The rest of us depleted our “discretionary spending” budgets over a seven year period to support that campaign.

None of us will be in the same situation in 2020 as in 2016.

Those in their 20s then who gave up their jobs will be going into their 30s in new jobs, building new retirement accounts (we hope), and seniority.

Those in their 30s and 40s then will be inching toward retirement while facing increasing heath benefit premiums as well as college tuition for their children.

Those in their 50s and 60s then will be retiring and no longer have the resources to support another campaign at the amounts they donated in 2015 and 2016.

This last was the demographic with the most money to contribute in the last campaign.

The folks who were in their 70s and 80s in 2016 (also large donors and very active at the younger levels) are and will be dying out.  All the stress, in money and man hours (strange expression – woman/man hours) will be on veterans in the 30 – 70 age group.

There is not a huge base (as we had in 2015)  that will be in their 20s in 2020 that is dedicated to Hillary. That demographic has been decimated by the Bernie Sanders incursion into the Democratic Party.

To demand that Hillary Clinton run again is also to put extra stress on the base that has stood behind Hillary for ten years.

I am not saying what Hillary will or should do. That decision, always, is hers alone.

I am saying that when you make this demand, I hope you have a plan to gather resources supplementary to those we are losing which are many.

I have not seen any of the #HRC2020 folks state, as many did spontaneously in 2008, that they are putting savings away for the 2020 campaign. I have not seen any swear that they will quit their employment to campaign.

The #HRC2020 contingent appears to be nothing but a cheering section.

It does not happen by magic. It does not happen by hashtag. It happens by hard work. It takes money, and for most of us that means that it takes savings.

Not one of us who campaigned hard has regretted the work or the expense. We would do it again. But those are not the people I see demanding Hillary to run again.

Many of us are spent. We need time to catch up with what we spent over the 2015-16 campaign cycle. We cannot save in three years what we saved in seven. Our resources have changed in many cases.

It is way too early to talk about 2020 anyway. If Democrats cannot win Congressional seats in 2018, the Trump agenda threatens to bulldoze all of us.

Put that hashtag to bed unless you are prepared to put your money and your livelihood behind it right this minute and declare so.

I should not even have to tell you to do this since everyone who made that promise in 2008 did so spontaneously, with no prompting whatsoever, made good on that pledge, and worked their hearts out in the last campaign.

It is easy to type. It is not so easy to do the hard work. If you did not campaign, if you did not contribute, please spare us your comment.

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… and I am not quite sure how to handle the foment that ensued.  I am posting this to right the record.

A few days ago, this photo was posted on Facebook with a comment that indicated that it was taken on July 4 of this year and marveling at how young and wonderful Hillary Clinton looks. That was not true. She does look great, but this is not a recent photo.

I contributed that the photo is actually from August 2008 when Hillary delivered her speech endorsing Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. The individual who posted it thanked me – for my thoughts –  but refused neglected to edit the original, misleading text.

Before long, her friends were sharing the photo on Facebook along with the erroneous date.  Some veteran, diehard Hillary folks were picking up the error and questioning the date, but the original text stubbornly remains to this moment. When I asked for it to be corrected, a firestorm erupted. Bad me! For interfering with … what? A pipe dream? A myth that is nowhere near as visceral and fortifying as the truth?  “What difference does a date make?” They raged. “It’s still Hillary, isn’t it?”

To me, and to many, it makes an enormous difference. An historical difference.

My longtime Hillary friends know how iconic that photo is and what a seminal moment that was for all of us, especially Hillary.  It was dense with emotion and difficult. She was asking us to do what so many of us were not ready to do. She was exemplifying party unity when many of us – a large portion of the party  –  were already consolidated behind the PUMA* acronym. (*Party Unity My A$$ or People United Means Action: most of us opted for the former.)

Earlier, women had marched in the streets of Denver in recognition of Women’s Suffrage and the 88th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Many wore white. Hillary, when she went to the convention floor for a walk-through, also had sported white that day. She knew what was happening outside.

When she came onstage after Chelsea’s introduction, she was wearing that tangerine pantsuit. No one who was there or watching will ever forget that. It was a moment in history, Women’s History, the nation’s history. Hillary did exactly what was expected of her and much more. She was full-hearted and full-throated in her endorsement. Among us, there were tears.

There was also anger, not at Hillary, mostly, although some turned furiously against her that night, and some never returned to her corner. There was anger at the system that did not allow a transparent and full roll call vote on the floor. Anger that Nancy Pelosi called the vote early. Anger that Hillary was the one who marched out to stop it. Anger that our votes were not registered by our Hillary delegates before our eyes and ears. We felt disenfranchised.

My governor, leader of our delegation, shredded my vote on the convention floor and gave it to Barack Obama on the first ballot. We later learned it was not the first ballot which was even more disturbing. The first ballot was not even taken on the convention floor before cameras, per tradition.  In a huge rupture with protocol,  it was taken early in the morning in the hotel suites, before Hillary had released her delegates. One state leader told delegates, “We want you to vote for Obama.”

Pelosi called the floor vote before 2, the time C-Span had it scheduled. By the time my DVR started recording, at 2, they were already at California. Had the vote been on time, I should have captured some yada yada yada and then the A states. I would have seen the Arkansas protest. I would have seen Bill Gwatney’s widow escorted off the convention floor. Her husband, the Arkansas Democratic party head had been murdered only two weeks before at party headquarters,

So the dating of this picture has much more to do with history than it does with identifying who is in it and how great she looks or how similar she looks today. Yes, she looked epic that night. Ready to take on the world.

Re-dating this photo washes away a moment in history that I had on my DirecTV hard drive until the day it crashed. It eliminates the history Hillary made that night doing the very difficult work of trying to pull the party back together, a task Bernie Sanders neglected to do at the 2016 convention. (And why should he have? To this day, he is not a Democrat! He is an interloper, a disrupter.) That night, Hillary went out there for the fight. It was heroic.

Now, in requesting that the original, faulty text reassigning the date on that Facebook post be altered to reflect fact, I am the bad guy. I am disrespectful to the Eastern European source who has “loved Hillary her whole life.” A glance at her timeline shows her (literally) naked support of Obama.

I am the one telling people not to love Hillary.  (WHAT???!!!) All I asked for was a correction!

Where on earth does this nonsense come from? Since when is it a personal affront to request that a misleading header be changed? Since when does stating the facts become hurtful, and “drama?” Since when has reportage without attribution become dogma to Hillary Clinton supporters anywhere? It boggles the mind.

As you can tell, I am pretty pi$$ed off. All of our Facebook communities, this blog, other blogs, and websites have long been dedicated to recording and archiving Hillary’s work. We are cooperative, democratic, and try to be as accurate as possible in our endeavors.

To be slammed for insisting on accuracy hurts. To be insulted hurts. To be swarmed by devotées of a Facebook “personality” can be exhausting.  Perhaps I should have given up the fight. But I believe people should know the truth.

People should know where and when that photo came from, and if they were not “with us” at the time, they should know the truth it represents.

Here are some Hillary Clinton Communities (Groups and Pages) on Facebook that do not revolve around a Facebook personality.  They center on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Still4Hill

Together4Us

Hillary Clinton Express

Supporters of “The People’s President”, Hillary Rodham Clinton

There are many more groups, pages, and websites (see my Blog Roll on the right), and many thousands of Hillary Clinton’s supporters participate in them. They do not center on any fangirls or fanboys with fragile egos. They center on Hillary and her ongoing work. Our goal is fact. Our objective is truth.

Screw the mythology. Combat and correct it. In years to come, the truth will need to survive, and the truth here should not be that Hillary Clinton appeared at a fictional event on July 4, 2017 looking smashing. It should be that she picked herself up from a painful, narrow defeat and soldiered on to support her party – looking smashing!  She always does!

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