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Women to Watch

Cihangir : Cyprus | Jan 01, 2011 at 11:05 PM PST
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Sarah Palin: McCain/Palin Rally 09/05/08

Here at Politics Daily, we've been recalling strong women whose terms sadly ended in 2010. On the year's last weekend, the New York Times' annual year-end roundup, "The Lives They Lived," paid appropriate tribute to film actor Lynn Redgrave, whose title role in 1966's "Georgy Girl" validated and emboldened women to love and appreciate their non-hourglass body shapes. The Times' idiosyncratic list, however, left off Jill Clayburgh, whose 1978 portrayal of an unmarried woman did more for single-girl empowerment than former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown could ever have hoped for. (Brown, now a widow, lives on alone after half a century as a well-loved wife.) Another uppity woman remembered in the Times year end portraits was of Canadian folk singer Kate McGarrigle. The Sunday magazine elegy was as lyrical as its subject, but it made me wish for a verse or two about "Lovergirl" R&B chanteuse Teena Marie, Motown's "Ivory Queen," who died at 54 just as the paper was arriving on our doorsteps.

This train of thought predictably led to predictions about those daunting dames whose flames burn on and whose status (and status updates) we will surely be revisiting in the months to come.

We suspect former Hewlett Packard chief executive and GOP Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina, who lost in California to incumbent Barbara Boxer, still has a few bucks in the bank to launch a rebooted election campaign for Dianne Feinstein's seat in two years or, if that's too soon, to try to wrest the governor's office from Jerry Brown in four.

Fiorina's sister Silicon Valley chief executive, Meg Whitman, who lost to once and future state chief executive Brown, could also continue spending down her eBay fortune on a future bid. But more immediately we wondered if, now that the political stakes have cooled, she will intervene to keep her undocumented former housekeeper, Nicky Diaz (whom Whitman once described as "a friend and a part of our extended family"), from being deported by Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (A clue may lie in the fact that, although Whitman's personal executive assistant was a gay woman who owned a home and had a child with her same-sex partner, Whitman won the Republican primary in part by defending California's Proposition 8 to outlaw homosexual marriages.)

Failed females on the left will also have second acts, encores and next incarnations. WillBlanche Lincoln, who was voted out of her Senate seat by the increasingly conservative Arkansas electorate, reappear in Washington as a lobbyist for home state industries Wal-Mart orTyson Foods? When will losing Virginia House candidate Krystal Ball, whose perspective on sexual pasts evoked the clarity implied in her first name (and audacity suggested in the plural of her last), write a blog post for Politics Daily?

Speaking of failed candidates, we speculate 2011 will be a big year for the losing 2008 VP candidate's 16-year-old daughter, Willow Palin. Back in 2009, Willow was unfairly joked about by David Letterman but, based on a recent unscripted grizzly baby episode, she is on track to be a punch line in her own right. The Alaska teenager will lose a very positive role model if her older sister, the dancer and abstinence advocate Bristol Palin, moves out of state (as theBristol beat rumors now report) to continue her own unconventional education.

(Also from the female-centric Palin camp, we expect to hear more in the months ahead from and about Rebecca Mansour, Sarah Palin's low-profile, high-energy cyber "consultant." Politics Daily's Sandra Fish speculates Mansour is responsible for the mean-spirited tone of Palin's Thanksgiving Day Facebook post.)

We will be writing about plenty of winning women in the new year, too, of course. New girl governors Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and Susana Martinezof New Mexico will undoubtedly hold our attention.

Kate Middleton, Prince William's betrothed, is one uppity commoner I fear we will see and hear far too much of in 2011. Unavoidably there are several other well-known women we can only wish we'd heard the last of during 2010. Busy making headlines far into the future will beRielle Hunter, who posed for GQ without panties and will forever be described as the former mistress of presidential hopeful John Edwards. With the death of Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, the philandering political aspirant is presumably free to marry his youngest daughter's overexposedmother.

Nor have we had a chance to pine for conservative pundit Laura Schlessinger, who claimed she would quit her radio show after repeating the N word ("all the way out") while scolding a caller but has yet to actually, well, go.

The most unrelenting political figure of 2010 however, must be Delaware's Christine O'Donnell who (though "not a witch") lacks a switch for dimming her self-promotion spotlight. In the latest news of the tea party candidate's persistent presence, the Associated Press is reporting O'Donnell is under federal investigation over campaign money that may have been spent for her personal expenses. No matter how that awkward question is resolved, we will surely see more of the anti-masturbation advocate in the months ahead. She has been awarded a book contract for her memoirs.Filed Under: Woman UpTagged: Barbara Boxer, Blanche Lincoln, bristol palin, Carly Fiorina, christine o donnell, Christine ODonnell, Dianne Feinstein, Elizabeth Edwards, helen gurley brown, jerry brown, jill clayburgh, kate mcgarrigle, Kate Middleton,Krystal Ball, Laura Schlessinger, Lynn Redgrave, meg whitman, Rielle Hunter, Teena Marie, Willow Palin

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