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Dee Dee Myers

Dee Dee Myers is the first woman and one of the youngest people ever to serve as White House Press Secretary. During the first years of the Clinton Administration, Myers explained the actions of the new president to a vigilant press corps and to the nation. She earned the respect of both with her sharp political instincts, sense of humor and ability to explain complex subjects in straightforward language.

Myers is currently a Contributing Editor to Vanity Fair magazine, a frequent political commentator on NBC and MSNBC, and author of Why Women should Rule the World (Harper Collins, 2008) . Myers was an original consultant to the NBC series, The West Wing, and contributed story lines and technical advice throughout its prizewinning long run.

1. What’s your favorite political movie?

PRIMARY COLORS.

2. What role do you feel art plays in politics?

Among other things, art can be a lens that helps us to see our circumstances – or ourselves – a little more clearly. In this election cycle, there is no arguably no better example of that the Saturday Night Live. During the primaries and again during the general election, SNL’s satire has distilled so many of the big questions – where are the cultural fault lines in our country? what do we mean by qualified? – into tight, digestible and hilarious bits. It has made us laugh – and made us think.

3. Who was the first political candidate you were excited to vote for and why?

The first campaign that really grabbed my imagination was also the first one I worked on: Walter Mondale’s 1984 bid for president. Now, most people wouldn’t put former Vice President Mondale at the top the “inspiring” list. But for me, his candidacy coincided with the realization that I could have a voice in the process, as a voter and a staffer. And when he named Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate – the first American woman to run for national office – the world changed for me. I saw a whole different future for myself and for women in politics.

4. What factors are important to you in choosing a president?

If there were a simple answer to that question, we’d just apply a formula – like an algorithm – to our quadrennial dilemma, and poof, we’d pick the best president. Instead, we’re left with our imperfect formulations. Personally, I look for the following qualities: Experience. What kind of life of life has the candidate led, and what has he accomplished? Judgment. Does he make the right calls on the hard questions? Can he or she handle pressure, adversity, crisis, set backs? World view. Is the person curious? Does he care about the world – and understand it? Compaission. Does he understand and care about the lives of ordinary Americans – and do the people he hopes to lead connect with him? Authenticity. What are the candidate’s values? Has he lived them?

5. What issues would you like to see politicians focus more on?

Education, education, education.

6. Which issues would you like to see politicians focus less on?

Lipstick on pigs, guilt by association, and distortions of opponent’s records and proposals.

7. Which candidate’s initiatives do you feel better address environmental concerns?

Senator Obama’s, by a huge margin.

8. This is your soapbox – shout it out! What do you need to get off your chest?

We must not allow any candidate distort the real issues in this, or any, election. We can’t let them use hate and fear to divide us. We can’t let them take us back. We’re better than that. America is better than that. So let’s summon the better angels or our nature, as President Lincoln called us to do. Let’s imagine a better tomorrow, vote our hopes, and make it happen.