Out of the Mouths of Babes

The State Department's goodwill diplomat-at-large Karen Hughes gives an intimate view of her life as mom in Newsweek's 20 Women Who Lead cover package. It's all about balance, you see:

When I came to Washington, I thought of myself only as a member of the president's staff. But I think my decision to move home to Texas because my son was unhappy in Washington caused people to view me as a leader, particularly on the issue of work-family balance. . . . Then the president and the secretary of State said they wanted me to work on public diplomacy. This was something I started working on while I was still at the White House. After September 11, I realized that we were not doing a very effective job as a government in communicating with the world. I said I couldn't start until later in the year, after my son left. But I compromised on that. When I was in Washington for the Inaugural, I had breakfast with my son and asked him what he thought about it. He said, "I think you ought to do it. You really care about it and it's really important to my generation." That just really hit me. It is important to his generation.

Got that? You can use your offspring's private unhappiness as a springboard to an imaginary position of moral leadership, and then trot him out to utter a generational talking point on an appropriately symbolic occasion--to justify your no less selfless return to the national limelight! It seems that what's being balanced is Hughes's resume, and her son's life is just the nearest fulcrum to hand. Something tells us that the younger Hughes was all too happy to pack mom off to Saudi Arabia. We can just hear him calling after the Super Shuttle van: "Oh, and mom--Don't forget to urge the women to start driving!"

How I Got There: Women and Leadership [Newsweek]


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