The Lady Politic: Mom-in-Chief

Posted at 7:00 AM May 06, 2010

By Naomi Zeveloff


This Sunday is Mother's Day. Which means it's time to talk about the best mother in politics: Hillary Clinton. Gotcha! We all know that Chelsea had to chip her way out of Clinton's womb with an ice pick. The real best mother is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who is such a good mother that she wrote a book to America's daughters entitled "Know Your Power."

Well, it takes one's power to know one's power, Madame Speaker. Not only did Pelosi pass sweeping health care reform, but she also birthed five children in her day. And, to hear her tell it, there's no better boot camp for political life than motherhood.

La vida momma taught Pelosi discipline, focus, and the ability to multitask. In "Know Your Power," Pelosi described organizing her tots into a sandwich-making assembly line for the next day's lunches. "I'm not taking any complaints," she told them. Sound familiar, House Democrats?

Though Pelosi entered politics once her kids were raised--her youngest daughter Alexandra was a senior in high school when she ran for a seat in the U.S. House--she brought politics into parenting, famously refusing to rent a home in San Francisco when she found out the owner had vacated it to move to work for the Nixon administration.

But lest you think Pelosi has moved on from her family life now that she's The Most Powerful Woman in America, rest assured ye women who think you can have a career and kids, too. Pelosi was recently spotted at a health care conference carrying her grandson on her hip. And no, that wasn't some silly drum-up-mom-support trick. Pelosi did it because she actually likes him.

"Nothing in my life will ever, ever compare to being a mom," she told USA Today back in 2007. "Not being a member of Congress, not being speaker of the House."

So happy Mother's Day, Nancy Pelosi. And to all those moms out there with political ambitions, never fear. If Pelosi could make the leap from mom to mogul, so can you. Now who wants to finger paint a campaign sign?


Still4Hill said:

It never ceases to amaze me how, without doing a single negative thing, having the highest approval rating in the administration, and being a wonderfully dedicated mom and public servant, Hillary Rodham Clinton draws the most out of context barbs and arrows. Why did you bother to mention her at all? What a nasty thing to say! Please note: When you find you have to resort to referring to body parts and imagined personal experience, you are probably better off leaving the comment out. I am sure that Chelsea Clinton has a profound appreciation for her mom. Many of us do. You should leave the mother-daughter relationship to the two people to whom it belongs.

Autumn said:

Well said Still4Hill!

Andrea said:

A fine point, Still4Hill, but I do believe Naomi was being more than a little sarcastic with her comment--check her previous Lady Politic columns for some serious Hill-praise. We love H-Cli round these parts.

Alexis said:

I AGREE. This could have been a nice article but I am totally confused as to why you felt the need to be so negative and hateful to Hillary Clinton. This article wasn't even about her so it doesn't even belong although since you did mention her maybe you should also mention that Hillary broke the mold for women to assert themselves in politics or perhaps you'd like to mention that she is a role model for women who don't want to be just a mom or just a career woman or just a wife but for those women who aspire to be a mom AND a career woman AND a wife. You blew this one big time!

Danielle Ryan said:

That was a horrible and unnecessary thing to say about Hillary Clinton and her daughter - especially when it has always been clear that they have a great relationship. As Still4Hill said, why mention her at all if that's what you are going to say? Next time you consider making a ridiculous comment like that, you should think twice.

Swannie said:

Not only am I disgusted at the Hillary comment , the nancy worship is extended to a woman who thinks it is alright to GIVE AWAY THE VOTES OF AMERICAN CITIZENS to secure her own power .

Still4Hill said:

Wow! Noli Hillary tangere, Naomi! The Homegirls close in quickly around her when there's a comment like that!

Gwen said:

...I just wanted to say that I chuckled to myself at the Hillary Clinton line because it seemed TRANSPARENTLY OBVIOUS to me that it was a sarcastic dig at, not Clinton herself, but all the flak she gets from her detractors. I guess sarcasm really doesn't translate well over the intertubes. >_>

Naomi Zeveloff said:

Hi readers! Just to clarify, the Hillary Clinton comment was meant as pure sarcasm. As Gwen and Andrea picked up on, it was a dig at all the folks that hate on Hillary for being a bad mom or unfeminine or cold or what have you. I'm a big Hillary fan, so it's great to see commenters coming to her defense, even though the barb wasn't meant in earnest. And Swannie, I don't think that my column amounted to Pelosi worship. While it's great that Pelosi thinks motherhood trained her for political life, I think her assertion that women can effortlessly follow in her footsteps is ludicrous. Pelosi's story of entering politics after years away is anomalous. Most stay-at-home moms--whether they chose that lifestyle or not--find themselves woefully underpaid and undervalued and underprepared when they re-enter the work force.

Still4Hill said:


Thanks for the clarification. No I didn't pick up the sarcasm. I guess it's because I am reflexively defensive of the indefatigable, assiduous, dedicated, and BRILLIANT Secretary of State who does it all without expecting fanfare while looking beautiful. I am proud, for the first time in a long time, to see the warm greetings she elicits from foreign dignitaries. She is the most cheerful breath of fresh air on our diplomatic scene, and I love her! Glad to know that you appreciate her, too.

Yes, there's a Hillary defense team out here. We're pretty much zero-tolerance.

Swannie said:

Naomi, the Hillary comment did not work as sarcasm ,for me, even tho I realised that may have been what it was. Perhaps my nerve endings in that regard are hyper sensitive, but that is with good reason . And , I am from Baltimore originally ; so not only do I know to which Catholic Schools Nancy was chauffered , I know how she came up in politics , and from which powerful political family . Any assertion that motherhood had anything to do with her political life is a delusion, imo .

Adrienne said:

I'm familiar with Naomi's writing so I thought the Hillary comment was hilarious. Here's more in the same vein:

It's nice to see people explaining why Hillary's awesome, though.

Naomi Zeveloff said:

All this Hillary love is making my heart swell. I had the great fortune to cover her speech at the Democratic National Convention in 08. She's a phenomenal speaker and a talented foreign diplomat. I know that Hillary won't run again, but I hope that when (if?) we do have a lady Commander in Chief that she'll match Hillary's leadership and grace.

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