December 15, 2008 / Uncategorized

The New Agenda issues Halftime Report press release on Obama transition


The New Agenda is busy!

Today we issued a Halftime Report on President-elect Obama’s transition and what it means to women (bottom line: they don’t seem to matter):

Despite the fact that the majority of American women voted for candidate Barack Obama in November, apparently this constituency does not matter to the President-elect. Analysis of the first 40 days of the Obama transition period reveals shocking steps backward for the women of this country.

To date, Obama has appointed only four women out of 16 announced cabinet positions. At this rate the President-elect would need to fill all remaining positions with women in order to achieve near gender parity. (See the “Cabinet Watch Scoreboard” at for details.)

We also took the President-elect to task for his silence on the Jon Favreau grope picture. As Amy Siskind noted, “Senator Clinton will be our country’s face to the world in her newly appointed position as Secretary of State. What is Obama saying, or not saying, when he allows this display to be shown worldwide and remains silent?”

In addition, the stealth appointment of Larry Summers to the National Economic Council is, as Dr. Nancy Hopkins says, “a clever move” to bypass the need for a Senate confirmation. “Clearly Obama knew that appointing a man who notoriously claimed that girls have a innately lower aptitude for math and science would be hard for the American public to swallow,” said Dr. Hopkins.


In other goings-on, our piece at the Daily Beast has moved up to the number 3 spot! Check it out and don’t forget to leave a comment: Women Scorned.

And later tonight, be sure to tune in for our weekly talk at Chewing the Fat with Ophelia. Ophelia has a special guest, Beverly Cooper Neufeld of The Equal Pay Coalition NYC. We’ll be talking about one of the most important goals of The New Agenda: ensuring that the women in this country are paid fairly for their hard work and enormous contributions to our nation’s economic life. That’s 10pm EST on BlogTalkRadio. The call-in number is (347) 324-5942.

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  • Anna

    Thank you. Your press release is right on.

  • fsteele

    Letter from President Summers on women and science

    Letter from President Summers on women and science

    January 19, 2005
    Dear Members of the Harvard Community:
    Despite reports to the contrary, I did not say, and I do not believe, that girls are intellectually less able than boys, or that women lack the ability to succeed at the highest levels of science. As the careers of a great many distinguished women scientists make plain, the human potential to excel in science is not somehow the province of one gender or another. It is a capacity shared by girls and boys, by women and men, and we must do all we can to nurture, develop, and recognize it, along with other vital talents. That includes carefully avoiding stereotypes, being alert to forms of subtle discrimination, and doing everything we can to remove obstacles to success.

  • Zee

    My mom watched the Obama live announcement tonight and said, “he’s appointing so many women.”

    I had to correct her.

    The New Agenda needs to keep the facts, the pressure, the news releases coming.

    Also, the latest….UGH. MSNBC gave David “the Clintons are pimping Chelsea out” Shuster his own show.

    I also have a friend who’s so impressed with Rachel Maddow.

    The New Agenda not only needs to keep the spotlight on all the PIGS at MSNBC, but I think we need to pressure Maddow to have ALL FEMALE panels discussing sexism, to counteract the multiple ALL-MALE panels congratulating themselves there is no sexism!

  • Thia, GA

    fsteele- I read a transcript of the actual presentation and he’s full of you know what!

    zee- isn’t it remarkable that they would have a panel about sexism and no women on it! It must be some kind of elaborate joke!

  • goesh

    Good work on Obama’s track record – he ain’t much of a herald of change now that he is in power, seems that was his big mantra, change, yeah right……….

  • Thia, GA

    goesh – he meant LESS women. We probably should have asked about that whole change thing.

  • Amy Siskind


    If it weren’t so sad, I’d be laughing out loud at your line above….

    In the hours since our press release was given to all the major newspapers, 2 MORE male cabinet members are rumored. We are now 14-4 (22%) with only 4 open slots left.

    Sad day for the women of this country!

  • Anne-Marie

    I wonder if Obama is doing what I suspect Hillary did–in order to look strong, she voted for the war, to show she’s not afraid of making life and death decisions.

    Maybe similarly Obama wants to avoid looking weak due to his inexperience and relative youth so he has to go with people who project experience and strength, which typically means men. He may not be in a position to surround himself with women, and thus looking weak in front of other world male leaders. Not saying he’s right, and that this isn’t sad, just thinking out loud…

  • fsteele

    As to Obama’s appointments, his supporters are urging us to reserve judgment till he’s finished. However it is the more important posts being filled first: he may fill out the lower levels with women, but that will not redress the problem.

  • fsteele

    /whispers/ Annemarie, as for what HIllary did, see David Brooks’, “No Apology Necessary.” Biden this fall gave a very similar explanation for his vote.

  • Thia, GA


    You might have a point. I think he picked Biden for the same reason. I’m not judging Biden (don’t know much about him) but I think he was picked as VP for similar reasons. Kinda shows you where his head is.

  • PG

    “What is Obama saying, or not saying, when he allows this display to be shown worldwide and remains silent?”

    Should Obama have prevented the media and blogs from showing this display worldwide? I know this organization wants to tighten FCC regulations even further to police the content of speech on broadcast media, but I didn’t think y’all wanted the president-elect to decide what can and can’t be “shown worldwide.”

    “goesh – he meant LESS women. We probably should have asked about that whole change thing.”

    Can you back that up with statistics? Bush’s complete, current Cabinet has 5 women: Sec. Labor, Sec. State, Sec. Education, Sec. Transportation, and U.S. Trade Representative. With 5 slots still to fill, Obama has 4 women in his Cabinet. How do you justify assuming that there will be fewer women in Obama’s Cabinet?

  • Anna

    Sorry, this is a bit off topic, but I got my piece on Favreau published in Pajamas Media today and some of the comments are pretty brutal if anyone wants to go over and read it and comment:

  • fsteele

    PG, Obama can’t prevent Favreau’s photo circulating — but he doesn’t have to stay silent about it.

    Anna, can you give a more detailed URL for your article at PJ? Email me and I’ll post it on

  • Thia, GA


    It’s at

    and she did a great job on both the article and in the comments.

  • Anna


    I hope this helps:

    Thank you so much for spreading the word!

  • Anna

    Thia, Too crazy – We were both typing literally at the same time! Anyway, thanks again today for all your support.

    fsteele – As long as I’m posting another post, FYI, I have no idea how to e-mail you. (NOT encouraging you to post your e-mail here.) I hope you see the links Thia and I posted.

  • Amy Siskind

    Great piece Anna. Thanks for writing this and sharing it with us. I left you a comment.

    BTW, do yourself a favor and don’t read comments (and if you have don’t take them in). The hit squads are huge for whatever you write. It doesn’t take much guts to hide behind a fake internet name apparently.

  • ER

    Thank you, Anna, for the great editorial at Pajamas Media. We need to get our voice out there. There are a lot of negative, sexist, misogynist, and just plain ignorant comments dismissing the Favreau issue on the site. We need to counter these comments, educate these people, and keep the pressure on.

    Suggested Action Plan:

    1. Please go Anna’s editorial at Pajamas Media and KEEP THE COMMENTS COMING–to counter the negative comments there, and to teach the public why Favreau’s behavior is unacceptable and why he should be fired.

    It’s easy to comment on the site, and it can be done anonymously. In fact, people can make more than one comment on the site. Here’s the link:

  • fsteele

    Here’s what I’m sending out to my and elsewhere.
    Comment box at the bottom; no login. ‘Awaiting moderation.’ Do copy your post with Ctl-A Ctl-C then hold the Submit button long and firm so it doesn’t say “You’re posting too fast”.

    I get email at and

  • Anna

    Thanks everyone for your support.

    Amy, not to worry. I realize when I put something out there in the public domaine like that, all sorts of folks are going to respond. It’s the nature of blogs. I actually like interacting with bloggers. The thing about blogs is that oftentimes everyone just states their case and that’s that. But what I think would be so great is if even just one person was moved to think things through even just ever so slightly (and that could be me, as well, as the writer). I’ve had my work published before and the first time I was a bit shell-shocked, but now I know to expect it and I think a lot of bloggers appreciate and respect it when the writer hangs in and responds. Irrespective of whether they do or not, I like to. But, it certainly helped today when folks like all of you balanced some of the negative stuff. I don’t even mind the negative stuff. Everyone has a right to their opinion. It’s when it’s imbued with all sorts of nastiness that it’s a bit hard to take. (Those are the ones I ignore.)

  • Anna

    So much for my writing…I didn’t complete the middle sentence. I mean that if someone is moved to think of things even slightly differently than they had before, then that is so great. Though, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck and I doubt that happens very often.

    Good night all.

  • fsteele


    That thread is looking pretty good now. I recognize a lot of names. :-) If you’d like to post directly to PumaResponders when situations like this turn up, email me the address you’d like to use and I’ll add you (and anyone else who would like it).

  • Anna

    fsteele – Thanks for all your help and support. I have your e-mail address noted and will definitely contact you directly with any stuff like this in tthe future.