Thursday, December 22, 2016

Barbara Mikulski

Barbara Mikulski, now 80 years old, is retiring after 30 years in the US Senate. Today's column by Gail Collins in the New York Times, "The Senate Bathroom Angle" describes Mikulski's career, especially how she worked tactfully to have the almost all male Senate create a bathroom for women Senators. Collins also suggests indirectly why we are unlikely to see leaders like her again. I hope you read the entire article, but here's an excerpt:
"In Washington, Mikulski has always exhibited a highly unusual combination of feistiness and bipartisanship. Susan Collins, a Republican senator from Maine, recalled that when she first arrived, Mikulski immediately reached out.

"'She didn’t know me from Adam — or perhaps I should say from Eve,' Collins said in a recent tribute on the Senate floor. 'Yet, despite the difference in our seniority, our states and our parties, she took me under her wing. … I was so grateful for her kindness and her wisdom. … She taught me the ropes of the appropriations process and instituted regular bipartisan dinners for the women of the Senate.'

"Those dinners have become famous — especially since the male side of the chamber has become more and more viciously partisan. In the beginning, they were held in a Senate room named after the late Strom Thurmond, an infamous pincher of ladies’ bottoms.
"Recently Mikulski and Collins invited their female colleagues for coffee, to welcome the latest generation of newcomers. It was a final gesture of outreach as Mikulski moved on into Senate history.

"She deserves some kind of permanent memorial. Maybe they could put a plaque in that bathroom. Or better yet, they could rename the Strom Thurmond Room in her honor."

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