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Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate

Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate

by Catherine Whitney, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Susan Collins

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The Women of the United States Senate have forever changed the political landscape.  Their backgrounds, personal styles, and political ideals may be as diverse as the nation they serve.  Yet they share a commonality that runs deeper than politics or geography -- they desire to give a voice to all their constituents while serving as role models for women


The Women of the United States Senate have forever changed the political landscape.  Their backgrounds, personal styles, and political ideals may be as diverse as the nation they serve.  Yet they share a commonality that runs deeper than politics or geography -- they desire to give a voice to all their constituents while serving as role models for women young and old.

Once every month, these distinguished women for an informal dinner to share their knowledge, their hearts, and a good meal.  Leaving behind partisanship and rhetoric, they discuss and debate the issues, both political and personal, affecting their lives. And following the 2000 election of four women to the Senate, the table is now set for thirteen.  Weaving together their individual stories of triumph, adversity, adaptability, and leadership, Nine and Counting gives voice to these charismatic women as never before, offering a rare, insider's glimpse into Washington and sending the powerful message that membership in the "world's most exclusive club" is open to every woman in America.

Editorial Reviews

These senators range from rock-solid Republicans to dedicated Democrats, and they agree to disagree on fiscal issues and foreign policy. But these nine disparate legislators share a bond that no man (or lobbyist) can break: These senators are women. This refreshingly unpolemic book enables these friends and frequent dinner companions to tell their own stories, from the family home to the Senate chamber. Inspiring reading whatever your political stripe.
In a 1952 presidential campaign speech, Adlai Stevenson stated that in America, any boy could grow up to be President. Today, of course, a savvy politician would be careful to include the nation's girls in that pronouncement. And yet, in some ways, things have not changed so very much since Stevenson's day. The Senate, for example, remains largely an old boy's club, with only nine women currently among its 100 members. Though they differ in their individual viewpoints, that distaff delegation works to nurture a camaraderie among them, even gathering every few weeks for a friendly dinner. (Can you imagine their more stridently partisan male colleagues doing the same?) And now they've coauthored Nine and Counting, meant to inspire other women to get involved.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.69(d)

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Chapter One

Why Not a Woman?

In America any boy may become President.

Adlai Stevenson, September 1952
Presidential Campaign Speech

In 1952, when Adlai Stevenson was rhetorically passing the torch of democracy to every boy in America, he didn't think to mention what "any girl" might become. But for nine women, that question was already part of their destiny.

In 1952, Barbara Mikulski was sixteen years old. At the Catholic high school she attended in a Polish enclave of Baltimore, she joined the Christopher movement, which promoted service to the poor and comfort to the suffering. Even then, she sensed that she had a rendezvous with destiny -- that through her work she might light a candle that would cast a wide beam. The desire to help others had been cultivated in Barbara from an early age. Raised in a hardworking, close-knit community of first and second-generation Polish families, she saw daily examples of the ways in which small acts of charity could transform lives. Barbara knew that she wanted to dedicate her life to service. She imagined that such a choice would lead to work in the social services or health care. At sixteen, she didn't make the connection between her aspirations and work in government, and even if she had, she might have dismissed the notion that government could provide such an opportunity for a woman. Barbara Mikulski's place in the United States Senate would be earned, thirty-four years later, through her labors in the community, and she would carry the lessons of the grass roots with her into the corridors of power.

Kay Bailey was nine years old in 1952, living anunexceptionalmiddle-class life in La Marque, Texas, a small town near Galveston. She was a busy, gregarious little girl, forever organizing skitsand projects among the neighborhood children, and participating in activities with her Girl Scout troop. On Saturdays, hermother drove her to Houston, fifty miles away, where she studied ballet and performed with the Houston Youth SymphonyBallet. She had boundless energy. Kay's dreams of the futuretook her from La Marque to the exciting urban arenas of Houston and Dallas, where she aspired to a profession in business orthe law. Washington, D.C., was far beyond the scope of herdreams, and politics further still. Her family wasn't particularlypolitical. Yet by the time Kay Bailey Hutchison was elected as thefirst woman from Texas to serve in the United States Senateforty-one years later, she would have made her mark on the political landscape of the state.

In 1952, as nineteen-year-old Dianne Goldman began her studies at Stanford University, she already possessed a keen interest in politics. It had been planted early on and nurtured throughout her young life by her father's brother Morrie. Uncle Morrie, a colorful and vociferous coat manufacturer, introduced his niece to the ins and outs of city hall, and engaged her father in heated debates at the dinner table. While Morrie sparked Dianne's imagination, her father, Leon, was her true mentor. A prominent San Francisco surgeon, Leon instilled in his daughter the fundamental principles that would remain with her for life. Her admiration for her father was so great that she briefly considered a career in medicine. However, an A-plus in American political thought and a D in genetics during her freshman year in college convinced her to follow her passion -- politics. Dianne Goldman was raised to believe that she could accomplish anything she set out to do. Dianne Feinstein would confirm that belief repeatedly throughout a lifetime of public service, culminating with her election in 1992 to represent the state of California in the United States Senate.

In 1952, Barbara Levy was a spirited ten-year-old, growing upin a nice middle-class section of Brooklyn, New York. Extroverted and irrepressible, she was a popular student -- "perky, peppy, happy," in her own words -- the girl who organized pep rallies and got chosen "all-around camper" in the summer. Barbara had a bright mind and an innate curiosity. She especially enjoyed political science and economics in school. But these interests were asides to her true ambition, which perfectly reflected the cultural ideal of the early 1950s. It was widely accepted that women, once they completed their education, would devote themselves to raising their children. Barbara's mother often spoke sympathetically of women who "had to" work, and Barbara assumed that her life would follow a predictable path: she would continue her schooling and get a good education, fall in love, marry, have children, and live the American dream. All of that did happen, but the path was not at all predictable. By the time Barbara Boxer claimed victory in her race for the Senate forty years later, she would have charted a course that would have seemed unthinkable to her ten-year-old self.

Five-year-old Olympia Bouchles was starting kindergarten at the Wallace School in Lewiston, Maine, in September 1952. A serious and responsible little girl, she was the daughter of a Greek immigrant father and a first-generation Greek-American mother. When Olympia came home from school at noon, her father, who was determined his daughter would have a strong and early start on education, sent her back each day saying, "How do you expect to learn if you come home at noon?" Olympia had to ask her teacher to send a note home to explain that she wasn't skipping school; kindergarten was only a half-day.

Olympia's hardworking mother and father had died by the time she was a fourth-grader, but their early influence stayed with her as she expanded her horizons to the world beyond her hometown. She grew up, fulfilled her parents' dream by graduating from college, and married. She was proud when her husband, Peter Snowe, won election to the Maine Legislature. But after less than three and a half years of marriage, and just three months into his term, he died in an automobile accident. Twenty-six-year-old Olympia summoned the inner resources instilled in her by her parents and her aunt and uncle and turned her grief into action...

Nine and Counting. Copyright © by Barbara Boxer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Barbara Mikulski, Democrat, California: Her commitment to public service has been tested by time and tragedy, making her one of the Senate's most trusted leaders.

Dianne Feinstein, Democrat, California: Her commitment to public service has been tested by time and tragedy, making her one of the Senate's most trusted leaders.

Catherine Whitney has written or collaborated on more than twenty-five books, including Framing a Life: A Family Memoir with Geraldine Ferraro and Guilty: The Collapse of Criminal Justice with the late Judge Harold J. Rothwax.

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