Predictably, however sadly, the announcement from the Biden-Harris transition workplace that an all-female staff would lead communications for the incoming president and vice chairman was thought-about information and praised for its supposedly historic significance.
It’s a unhappy commentary that we nonetheless take note of the gender of people that occupy senior positions within the federal authorities.
Reality be instructed, Joe Biden is not going to be the primary president to have a feminine function his chief spokesperson. That distinction goes to Invoice Clinton, who appointed the extensively revered Dee Dee Myers as his press secretary. He was adopted in that regard George W. Bush, who was ably represented Dana Perino. President Trump appointed two girls – Sarah Sanders and Kayleigh McEnany – to the function. The primary president to have a girl communications director was Gerald Ford, who appointed Margita White. She was adopted 11 girls in that function, below Republican and Democratic presidents alike. And there have been (and are) girls on the Supreme Courtroom, within the Cupboard, as speaker of the Home, as governors, senators, representatives and in lots of different positions of significance in state and federal authorities. And we’re weeks away from our first feminine vice chairman!
What issues in regards to the individuals Biden and Harris have chosen to information how they convey with the American individuals and cope with reporters assigned to cowl the administration is just not their gender, however their strategy to the positions to which they’ve been named. That may be a trigger for optimism. To an individual, the ladies named to run the incoming administration’s communications staff are usually not solely consummate professionals, however girls who perceive the function of a free press in a democracy.
That’s to not say that there is not going to be bumps within the highway in how the brand new administration offers with reporters and the free move of knowledge. Certainly, there have already been complaints the press that Mr. Biden doesn’t make himself accessible sufficient (no matter “sufficient” means), as an alternative favoring scripted occasions which he avoids questioning reporters.
Maybe Mr. Biden is spooked his soon-to-be predecessor’s behavior of just about all the time taking questions from reporters, leading to blended and unfocused messages, streams of consciousness, insults, lies, and infrequently weird feedback.
How a President Biden communicates with the American individuals stays to be seen. Given that he’s a profession public servant, chances are high his administration could have a extra conventional and disciplined strategy to messaging, which isn’t essentially a nasty factor.
Ronald Reagan was additionally criticized some for avoiding frequent rigorous questioning the press, and as an alternative counting on scripted occasions to speak with the individuals — maybe rightly so. However he revered the function of a free press in our society, handled even his harshest critics with civility, fortunately attended annual White Home Correspondents’ Affiliation dinners, and instructed his employees that we have been to deal with reporters kindly. On international presidential journeys, particularly, he anticipated us to make sure White Home reporters weren’t abused typically aggressive host-country safety forces. He and Mrs. Reagan did the identical factor. To today, probably the most iconic moments of the Reagan presidency stays when Mrs. Reagan rescued UPI reporter Helen Thomas from the clutches of a burly KGB officer who was trying hold Helen from overlaying the Reagans’ impromptu stroll on a Moscow road.
Hopefully, there can be no such incidents when President Biden travels overseas. But when there may be, the staff he has chosen to deal with communications is nicely geared up to intervene on behalf of American journalists, not as a result of they’re girls, however as a result of they’ve abilities and expertise and since their boss is a good man who understands that the enemy of the individuals is just not the free press, however moderately a public official who thinks so and tries to persuade others to just accept that warped and harmful standpoint.
As the daddy of a younger daughter who is considering a profession in public service, I welcome the shattering of each glass ceiling. However I additionally look ahead to the day when appointing females to senior authorities positions is just not information.