Who Better to Help Women at the Department of Labor Than NOW President Kim Gandy?

Sun, February 8, 2009

Making Our Political Voices Heard

Victories are beginning to add up for American women. President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He’s signed a law expanding health care benefits for women and children under SCHIP.

And now, there’s a chance that Kim Gandy, longtime women’s activist, feminist leader and President of the National Organization for Women is a contender for the slot as the head of the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor. To say that Gandy would be the perfect person for the slot is an understatement (and I’m not just saying that because I hear she’s read my blog every now and then!) ;)

The mission statement of the Women’s Bureau is:

To improve the status of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment.

Gandy has devoted her life to fighting for the rights of women. It started for Kim when, according to her Wikipedia entry, she had to get her husband’s permission for employee benefits when she worked for AT&T after getting out of college. Yeah. His permission. That would have inspired me to do something, too.

Seriously, Gandy has worked tirelessly for women ever since, but apparently the people behind The New Agenda blog believe that NOW’s support of Barack Obama for president disqualifies her for a potential position in the Obama administration. Really? ‘Cause this is part of her resume:

Since 2001, Gandy has led NOW’s campaigns on issues ranging from Supreme Court nominations to the rights of mothers and caregivers, from Social Security reform to ending the war in Iraq. Through grassroots political action, Gandy helped increase the women’s vote and change the face of Congress in 2006 and is leading the organization’s efforts around the pivotal 2008 elections.

That’s exactly the kind of person I want in charge of women’s issues at the Labor Department, especially now as the administration contemplates how more women will be able to employed in the jobs creation aspect of the stimulus package. Gandy has been a champion for women’s rights her whole life, and that’s who I want working hard to make sure women get an equal slice of the job creation pie.

I’m sure Gandy isn’t the only person who could be good in that job. But I have to wonder what’s behind such a public dissing of Gandy by a group that claims to be all for advancing women’s rights? If you’re looking for a qualified, dedicated woman to lead efforts to promote and benefit women over the next four years, no one is more qualified. And, if you look carefully at the stated goals of The New Agenda, it seems that Gandy would be perfect for those, too.

I’m not sure what this preemptive strike is all about, but I’ve come to learn the hard way that if something smells a little fishy, odds are it’s worth taking a look around to see where the odor is coming from.

Kim, for what it’s worth, after everything you’ve done for women (and girls) in your lifetime, you’ve got as much support as I can give you. You deserve it.

UPDATE: More women in the blogosphere are speaking up about their support for Kim Gandy AND the reasons behind this campaign. Don’t let the smoke and mirrors of the anti-Gandy campaign fool you.

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14 Responses to “Who Better to Help Women at the Department of Labor Than NOW President Kim Gandy?”

  1. Jill Says:

    Great post putting all the pieces together. As you say, there’s no doubt that more than one woman might fit the bill, but to suggest that Kim Gandy doesn’t is disingenuous, especially coming from a group that claims to be women first, over and above ideology. Thanks, PunditMom! :)

  2. anniegirl1138 Says:

    Too much progress makes people nervous.

  3. Mom101 Says:

    I just checked out the New Agenda link and I cannot understand why they’d make such a strong statement against her without supporting any of their allegations. It seems her biggest crime is not supporting Hillary in the primary, and then not supporting Palin (gak!) in the election. The horror.

  4. BAC Says:

    Following The New Agenda logic, if Phyllis Schlafly ran for president, the group would endorse her. But it WON’T endorse Kim Gandy for a position at the Department of Labor. Geezzzz


  5. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t support Gandy because she didn’t speak out against the sexism in the campaign. I don’t think you have to agree with someone politically to defend them from sexist attacks. I also think she back-tracked on Larry Summers and I don’t think that was right either. Just my opinion but I think we can do better.

  6. Amy@UWM Says:

    The New Agenda is a group that started off with good intentions — to unite women across the political spectrum in support of the feminist agenda (taking the divisive issue of abortion out of the equation). But it’s quickly devolved into a radical front organization for a bunch of women who are so bitter about Hillary’s loss in the primaries, they refused to support Obama in the general. They continue to bash him and everything he does, whether it makes sense or not. I’m all for legitimate questioning of our leaders, but theirs borders on the irrational.

  7. Mom101 Says:

    Oh puh-lease anon. Any sexism was coming from Chris Matthews, Lou Dobbs and Fox News. Gandy supported a candidate who is now doing more for women than any president in the past, appointing more women in prominent leadership and advisory roles, and even (hello?) recommending Kim Gandy for the Department of Labor.

    This sounds a lot like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Er, all Obama has done is sign two bills that were already long in motion, with little help or support by him while they were in Congress.

    On the other side of the scales, he invited a rampant misogynist to a place of honor at his inauguration, has done nothing to reverse the ‘conscience rules’ regs Bush rushed through HHS before his term ended, appointed Tom Daschle to HHS (Daschle is iffy on reproductive rights — NARAL had him at a 50% rating a few years back, and if you think the healthcare crisis isn’t a feminist issue, you’d better tear yourself away from the monitor and read up on the issue), he tried to keep on Bush’s (yes, George W. Bush’s) “abstinence-only” Global AIDS coordinator, his “Faith Council” is riddled with advisors who are both anti-woman and anti-reproductive rights, and he went to Congress and asked them to take Medicaid waivers which would have helped low-income women pay for contraceptives out of the stimulus bill. And that’s just the first 3 weeks.

    Many women (and men) worked long and hard to bring Lily Ledbetter before him, as well as on many other issues, yet you’re happy to give Obama all sorts of credit for — signing his name. Hmmm.

    Kim Gandy looked the other way during truly rampant misogyny during the campaigns, not all of which came from the media, btw (I guess you all missed South Carolina Democratic Chairwoman and strong Obama supporter Carol Fowler’s statement that Palin’s “primary qualification seems to be that she has not had an abortion”, presumably referring to her son with Down’s Syndrome), or many other examples too numerous to list here.

    Gandy stood silent. She didn’t even protest Obama’s request to dump contraception out of the stimulus bill until after the decision had already passed the House. And not a peep of protest when education funding went over the side.

    Yes, her resume is impressive. But her resume, as many many resumes are, is a lot of pumped up action with little to back it up. Please, develop some critical faculties, don’t believe everything you read. NOW has been rather underwhelming in its political action for a long time.

    There are many, many women out there (and yes, some of them supported Obama but also spoke out against the sexism in the campaigns, proving it was possible to do both) who are as capable as Gandy but have more solid records on supporting women’s equality all the time, not just when it’s politically convenient. I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty confident The New Agenda would happily support one of them

  9. Jill Says:

    Anon –

    1. Ledbetter would NEVER have been signed by John McCain and we all know that. George Bush also had no inclination to sign it.

    2. You clearly are writing from talking points because S. Carolina is the LAST state to mention when it comes to getting women into leadership – you are aware that its state senate has not a single woman in it? And it is a state that is seeking to have the most stringent hurdles for a woman to get an abortion?

    3. Your comment’s tone and expressions indicate your distaste for anything that comes from Obama – regardless of how it is something that is getting achieved that would never get achieved under a McCain administration, which is the whole point behind supporting the Democrat in the general in the first place.

    I voted for Clinton in the primary and helped her win Ohio with that vote, but I voted for Obama in the general because I wanted to see movement like that on Ledbetter and the global gag rule.

    There are hundreds and hundreds of local and state races that need women in them and winning them that have nothing to do with Barack Obama or Kim Gandy. We should be thinking about those.

  10. Betty Says:

    You are right to be suspicious of The New Agenda, and the weak-sauce justification they concocted today for their scurrilous attacks on Gandy is even more laughable than yesterday’s lame excuses.

    I’ve apparently been banned from their comments section, but that business about Gandy not speaking out against sexism? A complete lie. Some of the commentors at TNA yesterday provided copious evidence of Gandy speaking out against the sexism directed at Clinton. And here’s a link to an article BY Gandy that disproves her supposed indifference to sexism directed toward Palin.


    There’s a simple explanation for all of this: The New Agenda is a PUMA group even though they deny it. They insist on near-Stalinesque levels of loyalty for Clinton, which leads to absurdities like this campaign to torpedo Gandy.

  11. Selena Says:

    I agree with you, TNA’s stance on Gandy came as a complete shock for me. I though that the top of TNA’s agenda was to put more women in office, period. The more I read their blog the more I have to agree with others who commented that TNA is so anti-Obama that they will disagree with anything he does. I find that stance completely un-helpful for women rights or any group that is pushing for minority representation. Anyway, great post!

  12. PG Says:

    Anonymous doesn’t know what s/he is talking about.

    1) “I don’t support Gandy because she didn’t speak out against the sexism in the campaign. … Gandy stood silent.”

    Gandy and NOW were very outspoken about the media sexism toward both Clinton and Palin. Unlike The New Agenda, I offer actual evidence in support of my claims. Gandy decries sexism toward Palin: http://www.now.org/news/note/090508.html
    One of several Gandy columns decrying sexism toward Clinton:

    Like Betty, when I tried to correct these false claims on the New Agenda blog, my comments were blocked.

    2) “I also think she back-tracked on Larry Summers and I don’t think that was right either.”

    This is based on a NYT article that later had to be corrected because it misquoted Ms. Gandy as saying that Summers had done work on the gender gap in income in the U.S.

    3) “Just my opinion but I think we can do better.”

    Like who? One of the New Agenda’s preferred candidates, Anita Perez Ferguson, has no background in labor/ women-in-the-workplace issues at all. She’s a better candidate than a woman who has litigated sex discrimination cases, was on the drafting committee of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and literally stood with Hilda Solis (who will be her “boss” as Sec.Labor) to rally for greater media ownership by women?

    4) “Er, all Obama has done is sign two bills that were already long in motion, with little help or support by him while they were in Congress.”

    Obama co-sponsored the legislation in the Senate (S.1843 in the 110th Congress), and throughout the campaign and even leading up to the inauguration made Lilly Ledbetter herself a prominent spokeswoman. The idea that he was not strongly supportive of this legislation is ludicrous. The Ledbetter SCOTUS decision that made the legislation necessary in the first place was one of the things he pointed to in saying what kind of justices he wanted on the Supreme Court, i.e. ones who saw the perspective of employees who’d been discriminated against, not just the viewpoint of big corporations.

    As for Carol Fowler’s remark, while it was ugly and inappropriate, I’m puzzled as to why it’s *misogynistic*. Pointing out that Palin lacked the qualifications to be one McCain heartbeat from the presidency, and that she was picked to appeal to the abortion prohibitionist, social conservative GOP base, is inherently misogynistic? I find the remark offensive toward the disabled (because it implies that the default for a Down’s Syndrome fetus should be abortion), but I can’t figure out why it’s offensive toward women. It’s not really NOW’s job to police able-ism; they’re busy enough with actual sexism and misogyny as it is.

  13. Keesha Says:

    Pundit Mom, you posted a resume that included “Social Security reform” — can you explain that because that doesn’t make thrilled about Gandy. “Reform” is usually code for privatize. As for the Iraq War, NOW disappeared their support for ending the war in Feb. 2007. Or NOW leadership did. It’s also when they suddenly took the dove off their website.
    What has Gandy accomplished?
    If there’s something there, great for her. If not, I’m not seeing anything to cheer for.
    She’s had repeated problems with NOW membership for 2 years now and maybe that’s not something in Gandy’s official resume but NOW members have been very vocal and the press has covered it.
    As for Mom101, I don’t know where you get your facts.
    Kim Gandy supported Hillary in the primary as did NOW PAC. The issue with the general election is that NOW had only endorsed female candidates and many members felt if they couldn’t endorse the historic ticket of Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente, they needed to sit it out as they do most years.
    To many of us women of color, it looked like NOW was continuing the long history of ignoring us.
    (“But Barack’s Black!” He’s bi-racial. And NOW has long been enthralled with men of color.)
    By contrast, in 2004, for the uninformed which appears to be a lot of people leaving comments, NOW endorsed Carol Moseley Braun in the primary and NO ONE in the general election.
    Yeah, life’s hard when you have to know FACTS.
    I have no respect for the people
    weighing in with nonsense attacks on New Agenda which is a pro-woman, non-partisan organization.
    Anonymous has a comment and I agree but I’m taking that issue to another Pundit Mom post.

  14. Heather Says:

    Say it again, Keesha! I just went to New Agenda to see what was so appalling that led to this uproar. What did I find? This:

    # PunditMom on February 8th, 2009 2:28 pm

    Seems to me you’re just upset that NOW supported Obama and not Hillary. How anyone can say Gandy shouldn’t be in that post boggles my mind. I’m sure the others are qualified — and I am a long time fan of Ellen Bravo — but come on.

    Besides, as we work in our jobs, aren’t we all out to, on some level, promote our work/life interests? That’s not your real beef.

    Pundit Mom, as Keesha would say, KNOW FACTS.

    Kim Gandy supported Hillary. How can you not know that and weigh in?

    And as Keesha has so expertly pointed out, NOW doesn’t usually endorse.

    As someone at the summer NOW meet up before Kim started her lying, I can tell you that we booed her — and ask her if you doubt us — when she started pushing Barack. This wasn’t a few of us. This was the entire gathering.

    And Kim had to back off and say that there are mixed feelings and oh well blah blah blah.

    Then she goes and endorses Barack. She says it’s NOW PAC when she’s confronted. But she tells NPR and everyone else it is NOW.

    NOW, pay attention Pundit Mom, CANNOT ENDORSE.

    It is not allowed to for tax reasons.

    A woman who risks tax status of an organization by going on NPR and repeatedly stating NOW was endorsing isn’t a woman qualified for very much.

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