The 90s

Eddie Tape #74. Interview with political campaign consultants Jill and Stephanie. Softball, WH RF, Black Pol Caucus. Footage continues from Tape 10929.

00:00 Footage continues from Tape 10929. Interview with two women identified as Stephanie and Jill, Congressional softball players. Stephanie and the videographer, Eddie Becker, recap a moment they had on a previous day at the ball field.  Stephanie remembers,”You asked me how I felt as a woman coming into Washington. Do I think it’s easier for me as a woman today than a woman coming to the city five years ago? I think I said yes in certain ways. Public consensus is that women belong in the workplace, in politics, in the offices.” She notes that their coach Gary [Caruso] says they win so much because we have better women than the other team. We fill an integral role. She notes that she’s never experienced blatant sexism in the workplace. That’s because I say that I need to be part of the team.

03:39Copy video clip URL Jill adds that at least people now know they have to have women in the picture, but it’s not the same as saying women are an integral part of what happens in this town. There are viewpoints women have that can help Washington. The city has changed for women. There are more women now like Stephanie.

05:56Copy video clip URL Becker notes that women approach problem solving differently than men, with more emotion and sensitivity. Stephanie says her immediate reaction is yes, but at the same time there are aggressive women in politics. They’re tougher than men.

07:59Copy video clip URL Jill says wonders if, professionally, this helps women.  The rules in politics and in business are male rules. A woman’s way of dealing with things may or may not be more effective. She takes a phone call. B-roll of Jill on the phone, on deadline to receive a video tape from an outside source.

12:20Copy video clip URL The interview continues. Jill talks about how women operate differently from men, but that in the corporate world the rules are still written by men. It presents a delicate balance. I’m not symptomatic. I came to DC for personal reasons. I had a four-year-old, I had to support a family. I partnered with a guy in a race to the US Senate. We got into political consulting. I never thought of it as a career decision, I just needed money. I became a political media consultant kind of by accident. She notes that she is self-taught and hires experts in the media.

15:43 Jill adds that she loves what she’s doing. Politics is an exciting field. “You don’t repeat yourself every day.” She observes that young people tend to be more idealistic. The world hasn’t beaten out of you all the things possible. She notes that if we didn’t have people like that the world would never see any change. Jill says that as she became more secure knowing that she could make a career out of campaign consulting, she couldn’t help but notice that she was working primarily for men. She recalls knowing that she was in a unique position as a woman and as such had a responsibility to other women who might seek the same opportunities she had been awarded. She says people used to approach her asking, “How can I be like you?” She didn’t know how to respond because she never tried to be something specific, she just did what she felt she had to do to support herself and her child. She felt, however, that it was her responsibility to help others women who wanted jobs in politics but who normally couldn’t have them due to sexual discrimination.

20:45Copy video clip URL Jill adds that she was so busy with her job in politics that she lost out on many opportunities to be with her young daughter growing up. Now Jill wants women to see how important balance is in keeping friends and personal relationships. She wants them to see what the trade offs will be. She observes that DC is filled with ambitious young women. This town pushes people to do more.

23:00Copy video clip URL Stephanie agrees that her Reagan generation women are schooled to be ambitious. She notes her generation is coming right after the feminist movement. “We want it all now, career and family.” She feels women can’t openly admit that yet because bosses in the workplace wouldn’t be able to fathom how a woman could have both a successful career and the time to raise a family. She notes, growing up in the Reagan years, all her friends want to get jobs and make lots of money. Many people don’t have a social sense about them.

26:55 Jill says that she’s not sure this generation is so different from the last one. People are concerned about family, jobs. “I grew up in Spokane, Washington. They are amazed I live in DC. It would frighten them. ‘And how do you function without a man?’ they ask. I ask them, What do you expect me to do? What choice do I have? Not all of my generation was about saving the world.”

29:54 Jill adds that we’ve raised kids for generation on the American ideal of having more. But for this new generation the basic needs of a house, car, education etc are so financially difficult to obtain. President Carter’s message to us was ‘you can’t have everything.’ which was true but politically crucified him. Reagan told us what we wanted to hear, and we bought into it — an idyllic America that never existed.

32:44Copy video clip URL Jill notes that  we are in an interesting and amorphous political situation. Ever since Reagan we’ve become inarticulate as a party, not knowing what we want to say. To promise what Reagan promised, something you know you can’t deliver, puts one in a precarious position. She believes there hasn’t been any meaningful political dialogue in the last ten years. She elaborates that people want government to act on things that are relevant to them. Government only becomes relevant to people when they become old and in need of medicare. Jill says that when she was growing up people talked about The Great Depression, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, war heroes. What have we had? Nixon, a President almost impeached. Lyndon Johnson who gave up on Vietnam. Scandal. Congressmen involved in corruption. That’s what we see on the evening news. She adds that she doesn’t blame people who want to go off and create their own role model. There’s not a lot out there to serve as a role model.

38:29Copy video clip URL Does seeing corruption make people want to be corrupt? People want a more honest lifestyle. I don’t think we’re seeing a great outcry of people saying get rid of the corrupt politicians.

39:24Copy video clip URL Stephanie adds that we’ve had corrupt politicians a long time. “What impresses me about a president? It’s difficult to say. Most people say John F. Kennedy. I didn’t even exist when he was alive. I can’t name a president in my lifetime what was the best. We don’t have a message in our generation to follow. There’s nothing for the nation to get behind the way the older generation had trying to get through The Great Depression or World War Two.”

41:20Copy video clip URL Stephanie says twenty years ago the press wouldn’t tell all about the president. It would tone down any corruption a politician did. Now they go after the slightest smell of corruption.

42:40Copy video clip URL Jill says television has had an enormous affect on politics.” There’s an enormous debate on whether it’s ruined it or made it better. Television has made the news so fast paced. The audiences’ attention is dwindling. The faster, more punchy the message can be the better because we’re fighting for the audiences’ attention. Television is a difficult medium to discuss your plans to reform healthcare. You have to communicate in thirty-second soundbites or using air time that you buy. The whole format of television is inappropriate for such campaigns.” She adds that sensationalism prods journalists who want to expand their career into bigger markets.

46:50Copy video clip URL Jill says she’s mixed on the issues of television and its value. She notes we as a people would like to think we elect our leaders using a system that is systematic and thorough examining the profile of each candidate. In reality that’s not how we choose them. But the question is how do we take television, the dominant means for communication in our country, and use it to choose leaders we can feel good about. I don’t know the answer to that.

47:53Copy video clip URL She found herself embarrassed to show foreign dignitaries 30-second political ads in attempt to inspire them to become democratic. The dignitary would see a Congressional candidate riding a horse in South Dakota and remark question why that image means this candidate is the best person for the job.

49:10Copy video clip URL Jill is interrupted again by a phone call. She adds that a country skeptical about how their leaders are chosen will become skeptical of the leadership itself.

49:47Copy video clip URL Stephanie wonders who will do something about this idea that television is the method really used to choose our leaders. People realize they are getting ridiculous images thrown at them. Political consultants are reluctant to say anything against this method because they fear they will lose their jobs. It becomes cyclical. She notes in her campaigns now consultants look for ways to attack the opponents credibility thinking that negative advertising wins elections.

55:52Copy video clip URL Jill wraps up the interview talking with the videographer about future interviews as the current Presidential campaign continues. She says right now the situation is fluid. “Now we have Tom Harkin, old liberal, Bill Clinton, young conservative, Bob Kerry who is like Harkin but could possibly repackage the same comments in a more exciting package. Then there’s Jerry Brown who has some sound ideas but it’s peculiar that he would run for President. The same with Doug Wilder, a bright and fine man who got elected Governor of Virginia but then immediately went to Iowa. He left his state. Mario Cuomo who occasionally gives a wonderful speech. He insists he’s not running for president but the pundits keep insisting he’s the only one who can win. Paul Tsongas, the wisest in terms of nuts and bolts economic approach, it’s peculiar and wonderful that he’s running for president. What’s going to happen with all this? Who knows. It’s very fluid.”

01:01:20Copy video clip URL Jill and Stephanie chat friendly about Dave McCurdy and why it’s peculiar he’s running. Jill notes that once the Presidential race gets started people get excited. When asked how money impacts an election, Jill smiles and says you could talk hours on how money impacts an election. More and more money is required for television campaigns. And where do you get that money? It’s much easier to get the money in chunks and from PACs (Political Action Committees). You can only afford to offend so many people because there are only so many places to get campaign money. It’s a fact and it changes how people vote. It changes who they listen and respond to. Raising money is a terrific burden and stress for politicians.

01:07:15Copy video clip URL END INTERVIEW with Jill and Stephanie.

01:07:17Copy video clip URL Interviews with several attendees at the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, DC. Each attendee is asked who they would like to see as the next US President. Ralph Smith from the Federal Communications System says he’d like to see Virginia Governor Doug Wilder run. “He has good ideas for running the country.”

01:07:53Copy video clip URL Herbert Holmes from New Jersey says he’d like to see someone who’s not afraid to confront domestic issues like homelessness, health, education, aid to children and all those things that are destroying the country from within.

01:08:30Copy video clip URL Frank Davis says he hasn’t seen anyone running who has really impressed him.

01:08:54Copy video clip URL Minister Thomas Moody says he’d like to see Jesse Jackson or someone like him as President. Perhaps Doug Wilder.

01:09:38Copy video clip URL Public health nurse Cynthia Moody wants to see Doug Wilder run for President. He has a cultural sensitivity.

01:10:27Copy video clip URL Joanne Watson says Tom Harkin says all the things she’d like to hear. If Jesse Jackson ran again, she’d vote for him. Human rights have been pushed to the background.

01:11:30Copy video clip URL Christina Montague from Michigan also likes Harkin. She likes his approach to providing for people in need. She is against bail outs for the rich. “Harkin is the only person who can make meaningful changes.”

01:13:05Copy video clip URL Tanya McKinney Tava says she’d like to see a black President or Vice President.

01:13:38Copy video clip URL Ernie Davis says he doesn’t think there’s a consensus yet as to who should be President. He hasn’t seen anybody address issues that he feels are important.

01:14:46Copy video clip URL Mattie Blair says she’d like to see someone address domestic issues, like employment, that will help get the country back on its feet.

01:15:05Copy video clip URL Charles Romeo from the United Black Fund would like to see someone who is a true Statesman, someone who will take interest in all Americans.

01:16:09Copy video clip URL Journalist Libby Clark would like to see Bill Clinton as the next President because he addresses issues affecting the middle class.

01:17:24Copy video clip URL Dr. Lois Hill Hale says she would like to see a person of color, an African American, as President of the United States. They understand the needs of the poor.

01:18:35Copy video clip URL Queen Elizabeth James from New Jersey says she would like to see any good Democrat. She likes Wilder and Clinton. She does not want to see a Republican in office.

01:19:29Copy video clip URL Alice Holmes says she has not been able to identify any Democrat in 1992 as a strong contender. In 1996 she would like to see Jesse Jackson, Doug Wilder or Mario Cuomo. Unfortunately, I think Bush is very strong in 1992.

01:20:18Copy video clip URL B-roll of the caucus. A  make shift hair salon services customers. As people get their hair done, the videographer asks them who they’d like to see as President. Tracy Richardson says she’s like to see Wilder because he has an exceptional reputation. A hair stylist says he’d like to see James Harris as President. “I  think he’d do a good job.”

01:21:50Copy video clip URL Postal worker Gloria DeKrees says she’s like to see Ted Kennedy. “But I’m afraid for his life.”

01:22:53Copy video clip URL B-roll of the postal booth. Norman Stuart, director of the American Postal Workers Union, says he’d like to see a strong Democrat in office. Someone who will give jobs and housing.

01:23:44Copy video clip URL Fashion model Divine Taylor says she’d like to see Jesse Jackson or some other African American as the next President. “We are not given enough chances in America.”

01:24:30Copy video clip URL B-roll of a someone dressed in an Oreo Cookie suit posing with caucus attendees for pictures. A man asks the videographer to stop videotaping. He’s creating a backup in the line by talking to Taylor.

01:25:42Copy video clip URL B-roll of the US Secret Service booth.

01:27:05Copy video clip URL Curtis Strawbridge from the Potomac Electric Power Company says he’d like to see is a person strong in domestic affairs.

01:27:31Copy video clip URL Gwen Rainy at Digital Equipment Company would like to see herself as the next President. Her co-worker, Ola Hill, has not made a decision yet. The candidates so far have not impressed her.

01:28:52Copy video clip URL Arnel Lancaster says the next President might be Doug Wilder. He’s a good Governor, the first black Governor of Virginia, and is a role model for black people.

01:29:28Copy video clip URL Rose says she’d like to see someone who will lead the country into more economic and political development, uplifting people from depression and repression.

01:30:20Copy video clip URL B-roll of the caucus. Nurse Rosho Gordon says she wants to see Jesse Jackson as the next President. He seems like he’d be a great leader.

01:31:07Copy video clip URL Mary Weeks says she would like to see Jesse Jackson as President.

01:31:34Copy video clip URL One woman declines to be on camera. Another woman says she’d like to see Doug Wilder win. “I think he knows what the people need.”

01:33:35Copy video clip URL B-roll of the caucus. Models pose with beauty products.

01:34:11Copy video clip URL Vindetta Wood says she’d like to see Jesse Jackson be President. Someone who will look out for everyone.

01:34:40Copy video clip URL Harlem Dowling West Side Center Executive Director Melba Butler Hamilton doesn’t have a specific person she’d like to see, just someone who will take us forward away from the reactionary tendencies we’ve seen in government in the last few years. Various b-roll of the caucus, the Harlem Dowling table, a portable recording studio, with people recording karaoke. A recruiter for the CIA says he is not at liberty to say who he would like to see as the next US President. B-roll of various models posing with beauty products.

01:38:05Copy video clip URL Vanetta says she’d like to see Wilder, Governor of Virginia, run for President.

01:38:31Copy video clip URL Harry Tolson says he’d like to see a good president who will serve the people of this nation and of the world. He says he’d like to see himself as President.

01:40:20Copy video clip URL B-roll, the videographer walks down the streets of Washington, DC, with journalist Jay Peterzell. They go into the Time, Inc offices. Peterzell playfully shows his new shoes that he purchased. He takes the videographer into his office.

01:44:15Copy video clip URL Peterzell answers the phone. When he hangs up he introduces himself on camera stating that he is a writer for Time Magazine and cynically says that Nixon was his favorite President because he was smart, had a lyrical and complex personality. Reagan was good in some ways. He believed all the lies he told, but he was too simple. Bush pretty much knows what he’s doing.

01:47:33Copy video clip URL B-roll of The White House, various shots of tourists. B-roll of uniformed guard on The White House roof with rifle.

01:51:29Copy video clip URL END



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