On Wednesday, "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer spoke with all 16 female members of the Senate. The January 17 interview, broken up into two segments, ranged from silly questions, such as whether more women leaders could result in less war, to queries about whether America is too prejudiced to accept a female president. One question that did go unasked is whether Senator Barbara Boxer, who didn’t appear on camera, should apologize for her recent insinuation that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is oblivious to the effects of war because she doesn’t have children. One would think that in a group of professional women this would be an important topic. Apparently not. Sawyer began by asking the assembled ladies whether or not more women presidents would lead to peace:
Sawyer: "Do you believe that if there were more women presidents in the world, there would be less war? How sure are you that there would be less war? Do you think, actually, war would be--"
Maria Cantwell (D-WA): "Well, I think, Diane, I think that women are agents of change. And while we're only 16 percent of the United States Senate, we are trying to make change. So, it doesn't mean that you're going to predict the outcome, but it does mean you will hear about collaboration, you will hear about cooperation, and you'll hear about a format I think brings people together. I think that--"
Mary Landrieu (D-LA) "Let me say this, I'm not certain we would have less wars, but I am certain there would be more collaboration. So, while we can't prevent war, we can maybe extend the peace longer, maybe we can bring it more readily. We don't ever claim that could empower, end war. But I do think women bring a different perspective on just how much is enough when it comes to bloodshed and expenditure of funds for weapons."
Clinton (D-NY): "You know, Diane I just got back from Iraq and Afghanistan and in both places, in addition to meeting with our military leaders and the governmental officials from both countries, I met with groups of women, and women who are now in positions of responsibility in both governments. You know, just begged for help from American women, particularly those of us in government, to give them some resources and support. So I don't think that you can foresee or foreordain any particular outcome. But I do think what we're all saying is, that there is at least in our experience, more of an openness to process, to bring people together to the table, that collaboration and collegiality. And that in and of itself can cause positive results. Not that, you know, it's going to end all wars or something as hopeful and aspirational [sic] as that. So I, I do think there are some differences we could build on."
The mostly Democratic women continued. Uninterrupted by questions from Sawyer, they seemed to engage in a coordinated, and not very subtle, effort to build up Hillary Clinton:
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) "I think women look at power differently, too. I think men have a very -- I was going to say sort of up-scale view of power, that it’s got to really emanate from the top. And most women have gotten wherever we've gotten because of hard work, doing your apprenticeship, earning your spurs, working your way up. It's a very different thing. So you intend to be much more inclusive."
Susan Collins (R-ME) "But I don’t– I don't want to leave the impression that a woman president wouldn't do what is necessary to defend this country. If Elizabeth Dole had been successful and had been president, I'm sure that she would have reacted very strongly and effectively to the attacks on our country on 9/11."
Claire McCaskill (D-MO): "I want to point out, this is a tough, tough group of women. Don't cross these women. If you, if you want to mess with America, if you want to do something that harms our country, I think that at the same time we talk about how we are good at finding common ground and we care very much about collegiality, I don't want this interview to end with anyone being mistaken, whether it be Hillary Clinton or any of these women, if the time comes and any of us have to make a tough decision that has to do with war or defending our country, every woman in this room is ready to do that because, believe me, if she got here, she's tough."
Incidentally, the comment by Susan Collins, was the only time a Republican Senator spoke in the first segment, broadcast at 7:08am. Is this a coincidence, or is ABC trying to assist the promotion of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign?
In the second part, which aired at 8:14, Sawyer became less subtle and wondered if America could handle a woman president:
Sawyer: "There was a Newsweek poll recently that showed that 35 percent of American people do not think America is ready for a woman president. It doesn’t mean they’re saying they wouldn’t vote– They just don’t think America is ready. Are you all absolutely confident?"
Hillary Clinton (D-NY) "We don’t have any way of knowing that."
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) "I think things that are changing rapidly, as more women become mayors, as they become governors. As they represent us in the state legislatures. As they do well, as they are effective, suddenly people look and say, ‘Ah hah. I know I’m going to get a fair shake. That’s who I’m going to vote for.’"
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) "That’s why, when Claire and I ran this time, it was a lot easier for people to imagine us in the U.S. Senate, because of the women sitting here today."
Sawyer: "Okay, but let me ask you this. Let me ask you this. What has taken America so long? We’ve got, what, six, seven female presidents, six prime ministers that I know about in the world."
Elizabeth Dole (R-NC): "We still have a long way to go."
Lincoln (D-AR) "But my mother told me, she said, this is history. And it’s going to take time. It’s not a fault. It’s a fact that there aren’t more women elected and it will be our fault if we don’t change that."
Susan Collins (R-ME) "We’re starting to break the glass ceiling for governor. I think that parallels the corporate world where we’ve had a hard time breaking the class ceiling where to become CEOs. And I think, as there are more and more women serving as CEOs, we’re going to see a greater openness to women serving in executive positions in the political world."
If Ms. Sawyer’s questions seem familiar, they should. In November, the ABC anchor interviewed Illinois Senator and 2008 presidential aspirant Barack Obama. Sawyer asked him if America is ‘more racist or sexist’ and then repeated the query on the next day’s program.