Whither Bachmann? Back to School

09/08/2011 05:37 pm ET | Updated Nov 08, 2011
  • Rebecca Sive Author of: Every Day Is Election Day: A Woman's Guide to Winning Any Office, from the PTA to the White House. Speaker on strategies for women who seek political influence and power.Lecturer at Chicago Harris, University of Chicago

School has begun in earnest for us girls enrolled in the school of politics. So, girlfriends, sit-up straight and pay attention, for these two school days and nights are likely to teach us more than we may learn during any other two anytime soon.

Why? Well, last night we had the Great Debate, and tonight we have the Great Speech, a veritable feast for our school's students.

Besides, in case you hadn't noticed, due to all the kerfuffle (even his hair is kerfuffly) over Rick Perry's enrollment, Michele Bachmann is still the only girl in our senior class. And, even if she didn't get the "A" last night that she got in last semester's debate club season, she's still worth paying attention to. After all, this semester goes on for a while.

Of course, tonight is when our school principal (that would be President Obama) gives us his lesson plan in his Great Speech.

Then, after we break for what the schoolboys say is the most important school event this week (no, girls, not the debate or the speech but the football game), the question will be: what would another (flying-solo) woman have said if she'd been the one lecturing tonight? If she were school principal, what would Hillary Clinton's Great Speech have been?

A lot of my sister students in the school of politics think a Hillary Clinton Great Speech would be different (and better) than Barack Obama's. But, more importantly for all of you political girls who would be in the senior class, that wouldn't be because Hillary Clinton attends a different school of politics than Barack Obama. She doesn't. She's enrolled in the same one as the president. Just like Michele Bachmann is enrolled in the same one as Rick Perry is. It's the same school for all of them: the school where you learn how to be a politician.

But, as Chris Cillizza and Mike Allen constantly remind us (girlfriends, an important tip: if you don't read them yet, start today), the school of politics' most important lesson isn't about the substance of, say, a Great Speech, but about the process of giving it successfully, about the recipe for success, no matter what the ingredients.

But what Cillizza and Allen won't tell you girls, but this sister will, is the school's prerequisites.

Believe this, no matter what happens. Believe that:

  1. Your attempts at good works matter (because if you ever think they don't, you won't possibly be able to put up with Washington, or, for that matter, with any state capital).
  2. You have no self-doubt. (As a consequence, you can get up in the morning and spout foolishness, if that's what called for.)
  3. There is redemption, no matter what religion you profess -- or don't (for there surely will be times when you don't like what's going on).
  4. Your modest pay isn't the only financial reward of the job. (Think about it: Your government paycheck may open the door to better-paying private-sector gigs, and will open the door to perqs that the average person living on your salary isn't able to attain.)
  5. You love being fawned over and think that nothing beats it. (Anthony Weiner should have remembered this one.)
  6. You absolutely know how to make the world a better place.
  7. You like to see your name in the paper.
  8. You like it when reporters call you.
  9. You like seeing the rest of us grovel and beg you for stuff.

And the most important belief: that, 24/7, you are willing to keep playing politics, even if you don't get an "A" every day, because you continue to believe that, at least once in a while, you will succeed in making our world a better place.

Yes, sometimes political girls -- just like political boys -- don't execute as well as they need to or have the best ideas for how to get things done. That would be Michele Bachmann last night. No problem. Back to school.

As to the rest of you political girls: on to the Great Speech and the football game. Sit up straight. Listen, watch and pay attention to all the schoolboys' plays. Then, think about whether you want to run those plays.

I hope you do, for we need lots more girls in the debate club and on every playing field.