Eleanor Clift’s Wry Words of Wisdom

As NBCC advocates know, breast cancer is a political issue. Monday morning at the conference was all about policy and politics. Following the unveiling of NBCC’s new Framework for a Health Care System Guaranteeing Access to Quality Health Care for All and a discussion about the health care plans of the presidential candidates, we were ready for lunch and a talk from Eleanor Clift, a Newsweek reporter and a regular guest on The McLaughlin Group.

If you’re not a regular viewer of The McLaughlin Group, you need to know that it is a weekly TV political discussion show. Nobody can get more than six words out before getting interrupted. Eleanor is usually the only woman on the show, and she told the audience that when she began appearing on the program twenty years ago, the “boys” did not know how to handle her and first acted – shock, shock – polite! Eleanor said she knew she had arrived when Robert Novak, also known as the “Prince of Darkness,” tossed a put-down her way.

Eleanor likened her difficulties breaking the glass ceiling of The McLaughlin Group to those of women members of Congress and of women everywhere. She talked about the challenges women candidates faced getting elected – and then, once arriving in Congress, becoming effective. This year’s presidential campaign, with a woman as a serious candidate, is also history in the making, and the rules on how a woman candidate should act and be covered are being rewritten every day.

In addition to being a journalist, Eleanor is the author of several books, the most recent an account of sharing the final two weeks of her husband’s life as he lay dying at home (under hospice care) of metastatic kidney cancer. She said that the experience has given her a new perspective on what needs to be fixed in the health care system. She applauded NBCC advocates for their efforts and told them to go to Capitol Hill tomorrow and be fearless.

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