PERSONAL: Married Tom Brazaitis, c. 1990 (died March 30, 2005); children: (former marriage) Edward, Woody, Robert; (with Brazaitis) Mark, Sarah (stepchildren).
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Eagles Talent Connection, Inc., 57 West South Orange Ave., South Orange, NJ 07079.
CAREER: Newsweek, contributing editor; McLaughlin Group, Public Broadcasting System (PBS), panelist; Fox News Network, political analyst. Iowa State University, Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics. Appeared in films, including Independence Day and Murder at 1600, and in televison series, including Murphy Brown.
(With husband, Tom Brazaitis) War without Bloodshed: The Art of Politics, Scribner (New York, NY), 1996.
(With husband, Tom Brazaitis) Madam President: Shattering the Last Glass Ceiling, Scribner (New York, NY), 2000, revised edition published as Madam President: Women Blazing the Leadership Trail, Routledge (New York, NY), 2003.
Author of the column "Capitol Letter," posted weekly at http://www.newsweek.com and http://www.msnbc.com.
SIDELIGHTS: Eleanor Clift was married to journalist Tom Brazaitis, now deceased. Together they wrote two books, the first being War without Bloodshed: The Art of Politics. The book contains profiles of eight of the most powerful people in Washington, including House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, lobbyists Michael Bromberg and Paul Equale, pollsters Stanley Greenberg and Frank Luntz, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Senator Bob Dole's chief of staff Sheila Burke. Booklist reviewers Mary Carroll and Gilbert Taylor called the volume "less cynical than realistic about the exercise of (and limits on) power within government."
Brazaitis and Clift also wrote Madam President: Shattering the Last Glass Ceiling, which was revised and retitled Madam President: Women Blazing the Leadership Trail. In considering when the United States will elect its first female president, the authors profile women in politics who have learned how to campaign, raise money, and successfully win positions of power.
They include Democrats Geraldine Ferraro, Shirley Chisholm, and Bella Abzug, as well as women who have formed organizations to support female politicians, like Emily's List founder Ellen Malcolm, Barbara Lee of the White House Project, and Karen Strickler of Fifty Plus One.
The authors also look at films that portray women in political positions, including a 1960s story in which Polly Bergen resigns the presidency upon discovering that she is pregnant, much as real-life governor Jane Swift of Massachusetts did because her family needed her. They also study the role of vice president as played by Glenn Close in the film Air Force One. Kathleen Knight reviewed the revised edition in Political Science Quarterly, noting that the authors "do much more to make the leap from imagination to reality by providing a detailed survey of the field of possible contenders." They profile more experienced female politicians and the newer crop of possible candidates that have emerged as senators, representatives, and governors, including Hillary Clinton.
Brazaitis and Clift conclude that although most people tell pollsters they would vote for a woman president, they are not inclined to actually do so. In order for a woman to be successful, they say, she would have to be conventional, middle-of-the-road, and noncontroversial. As Joyce Purnick commented in the New York Times Book Review, "the central question remains whether enough women will be elected to higher office to create a critical mass. Because only then will the country accept that women politicians can be just as good, bad and in-between as most men politicians."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 1996, Mary Carroll and Gilbert Taylor, review of War without Bloodshed: The Art of Politics, p. 1640.
Library Journal, July, 2000, Robert F. Nardini, review of Madam President: Shattering the Last Glass Ceiling, p. 119.
New York Times Book Review, July 30, 2000, Joyce Purnick, review of Madam President, p. 26.
Political Science Quarterly, spring, 2004, Kathleen Knight, review of Madam President, p. 218.
Presidential Studies Quarterly, spring, 1997, Nelson W. Polsby, review of War without Bloodshed, p. 399.
Publishers Weekly, April 29, 1996, review of War without Bloodshed, p. 57; June 19, 2000, review of Madam President, p. 69.
Washington Monthly, July, 2000, Myra MacPherson, review of Madam President, p. 46.
Eagles Talent Connection, Inc., http://eaglestalent.com/ (September 12, 2005), author profile.
Washington Post, March 31, 2005, p. B7.