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    When John Edwards ran for president in 2008 -- before we knew that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer had returned and long before the sordid stories about his marital infidelities were revealed -- I was a big advocate for Elizabeth being First Lady. In many ways she was a mom like the rest of us -- she called herself the "anti-Barbie," loved meatloaf, and had a thing for comfy jammies from Target.

    Elizabeth Edwards died this week at the age of 61, the breast cancer she fought valiantly for six years finally taking her from her children and family. But her passing is a loss for more than just her family. Elizabeth Edwards, despite the many vengeful and judgmental things that were written about her marriage and her presence on her husband's campaign trail, was the kind of woman I now think would have made an excellent Mom-in-Chief -- the kind that actually sits behind the desk in the Oval Office.

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    I thought I heard a parental "huzzah" go up across the country this week when the Senate passed a sweeping food safety bill that President Obama is expected to sign into law shortly. Over the last year, there have been increasing numbers of frightening news reports about children becoming sick after eating tainted spinach or bad burgers, as well as allegations of food buyers taking bribes to get moldy or otherwise defective food into our supermarkets. 

    It's been something of a scary time to be the one doing the family food shopping. So fingers crossed that some additional authority for the FDA will mean safer food for our families.

    But what good is food safety if there are still tens of thousands of children who go hungry every day in America?

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  • Sarah Palin vs. the 1990s

    posted by Joanne Bamberger November 26, 2010 at 9:17 AM in In The News
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    Image via Amazon.comSarah Palin is out to get the 1990s.  At least that's what I have to assume from some cultural references she's trotted out in her new book, America By Heart.

    According to excerpts from the book, she's got it in for Hillary Clinton and fictional newswoman Murphy Brown, two female icons of the 1990s. But why is Palin going all Back to the Future as she's plotting her 2012 strategy -- whatever that may be?

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  • Fair Pay? GOP Says Hell No

    posted by Joanne Bamberger November 18, 2010 at 12:13 PM in In The News
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    In the recent election, for the first time in decades, more women voters cast their ballots for Republicans than Democrats, hoping the GOP would make things better for their budgets and wallets.

    So how did the GOP thank all those women for switching sides? By refusing to allow the Paycheck Fairness bill to come up for a vote in the Senate.

    Nice way to say, "Thanks for your votes, ladies, but we still think you're worth less than men."

    Wooing women voters with promises of looking out for their best interests and then refusing to allow even a fair debate on a bill that would help countless families in this stinky economy was the legislative equivalent of that guy in high school who promised if you put out, he'd take you to the prom. And then he took the head cheerleader like he was always planning, having played you for the fool.

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  • Divorce: The New Pop Culture Topic

    posted by Joanne Bamberger November 11, 2010 at 10:51 AM in In The News
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    I love Nora Ephron and her take on pop culture. When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite movies. I felt her pain in Heartburn. I don't think her neck is too wrinkly and she has a killer sense of humor.

    But Nora and I have to part ways on the issue of divorce. I caught her on Morning Joe talking about her involvement with a new Huffington Post project -- a page dedicated to divorce. For her, she said it was important to find humor in the hard things in her life.

    But not everything about divorce is humor-worthy. And that's my concern with the new divorce page -- that portraying divorce as a pop culture topic will diminish how we view the uglier aspects of divorce, like domestic abuse, where there is no humor.

    That thought hit me hard as I listened to Ephron and looked at the new HuffPo page. I don't talk about it often because it was a lifetime ago, but I divorced my first husband because of domestic abuse.

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    I apologize if I've spoiled your morning coffee or your afternoon latte with that headline. But like it or not, we are officially on the road to 2012 -- no, not the movie with my fave John Cusack. I mean the 2012 election. (Sorry I don't have a fancy banner or theme music to announce it like the cable shows.)

    I know it feels as if we've barely come off the 2008 and 2010 elections, but you know how those campaigners like to get a jump on things! Sadly, I don't think many politicians are going to take that road with Jon Stewart's message of sanity.

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    At the beginning of this election season, the media and the GOP latched on to the story that 2010 was going to be the Year of the Republican Woman.

    With Sarah "mama grizzly" Palin flying from coast to coast giving her blessing to the myriad Republican women who were inspired to run for office because of her place on the John McCain ticket in 2008, surely this was their time to charge into office and be the conservative change they wanted to see.

    Or not.

    That's not just speculation or punditry. A recent study from the Center for Women and American Politics at Rutgers University found that while GOP women filed for elective office, including Congress, in record numbers in 2010, only 28% of non-incumbent GOP women won their primary races for Congress.

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    When a 20-year-old incident prompts you to pick up the phone to rehash a piece of history that wasn't even your own, there's something serious going on. At least that was my reaction when I heard that Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, called Anita Hill to demand an apology from her for what Hill had "done" to her husband!

    We all have things we stay angry about. I was plenty peeved when my law school boyfriend thought it was a good idea a couple of decades ago to give me kitchen knives for my birthday (only romantic in a Fatal Attraction sort of way), but it's not something I think about anymore other than as occasional comic fodder. I've moved on.

    Apparently Ginni Thomas hasn't.

    The reason?

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  • The Week for Whores in Politics

    posted by Joanne Bamberger October 14, 2010 at 9:01 AM in In The News
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    The political word of the week is "whore."

    GOP California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is offended that someone on her opponent Jerry Brown's campaign called her a "whore" in a taped phone conversation.

    Krystal Ball, the Democratic candidate in Virginia's 1st Congressional District, was, in essence, labelled a whore, with the anonymous release of racy, college-era photos only weeks before the election and just after her campaign made a big media buy.

    Even someone going as far as calling the National Organization for Women, the "National Organization for Whores."

    So when it comes to calling political women "whores," is context important? If so, which is worse?

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    "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."

    "God Hates Fags."

    "Thank God for 9/11."

    Those are just a few of the signs that Fred Phelps and the members of his Kansas Westboro Baptist Church held up high during their protest at the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder in 2006. Snyder gave his life for our country in Iraq.

    He was only 20 years old when he died.

    Offensive speech about Snyder was also posted on the church's website (which has the url not of the church's name, but of "god hates fags") proclaiming that it was the fault of Snyder's parents that he died in Iraq because they'd divorced and their son was a target for God's punishment because of that.

    So the question for the Supreme Court is whether those protests and web content are protected free speech or whether it's action aimed toward private citizens that doesn't deserve Constitutional protection.

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About This Column
Joanne Bamberger

Joanne Bamberger, aka PunditMom, is an author, journalist, and political analyst whose commentary has appeared on CNN, Fox News, NPR.com, and elsewhere. Joanne's throwing down the gavel and raising her voice about issues that affect and interest moms in her weekly column "Speaker of the House."

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