The Tale of Tait Sye

Many years ago, two sad parents had a baby boy and named him Tait Sye. Two other, equally sad parents had a baby girl and named her Charmaine Yoest. They grew up leading completely separate lives, not knowing the other existed–not knowing that there was another person out there with a name just as unfortunate as their own.

Years later, Tait became the media director for Planned Parenthood. Meanwhile, Charmaine rose to the position of President of Americans United for Life. And here begins our story.

On Friday, April 20, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appointed Tait Sye as his new HHS deputy assistant secretary for public affairs. Charmaine, a fervent opponent of Planned Parenthood, abortions, and the like, accused the President of being “intertwined…with the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood.”

“Personnel is policy,” Charmaine said in an email to POLITICO. “The Obama administration and HHS have demonstrated their unrelenting bias in favor of the abortion industry throughout the healthcare debate and in the way in which the law is being developed.”

And so, the good people of America stood by Charmaine’s words and shamed the appointment of Tait Sye. Wait, actually, they didn’t. The only people that freaked out were far-right, Christian groups and bloggers. If you Google “Tait Sye,” here’s what pops up: a story by blogger named “Seeing Red AZ” and articles from lifenews.com, womenofgrace.com, and christiandiarist.com. Few other news outlets covered the story…because it’s a non-story. Tait’s name barely even elicits any search results at the New York Times or Washington Post websites. I couldn’t even find a picture of him on Google Images. (It’s easier to find a picture of me on Google Images than it is to find this clearly highly controversial character, Tait Sye.)

Tait Sye was good at media, so he was appointed deputy assistant secretary for public affairs (it’s not even that big of a position). So, the moral of the non-story is, if you’re good at your job, you get to work in the White House, no matter how weird your name is. The end.

18th Annual Issues Conference: Women’s Leadership Forum

Last week, I got an email from DC College Dems, forwarded to me by the President of AU College Dems. It announced that free tickets to the Women’s Leadership Forum were available to all members of DC area college Democrats. (Tickets to the Conference ranged from $250 to $75,800. Not quite in a college student’s budget, not when I have Easy Mac and coffee to buy…and college loans to pay off.) The selling point was that Barack Obama was speaking at 5:00 on Friday, the day that the free tickets were good for, so of course I was going to go.

I have to say, “women’s issues” isn’t really my thing. I’m more interested in education, healthcare, jobs…stuff that affects nearly every single person in the country. Women’s issues, to me, included reproductive rights (contraceptives, abortion, etc.), pay discrimination based on gender, and not much else. But I figured since I knew practically nothing about “women’s issues,” I should go to the Conference if no other reason than to become educated.

Having attended, I can say that I am 100% more informed than I was before. I found that “women’s issues” aren’t really just women’s issues–they are “family issues, economic issues,” according to the President and other speakers. Equal pay is not merely symbolic of sexism–it truly affects the entire family. Reproductive rights are a basic right and should not be determined by an employer or the government. Choosing birth control is an economic choice in that it allows women to choose when they want to have children–when it is financially feasible for them and their family, and this can make all the difference in the upbringing of a child.

Aside from everything I learned, I had an absolutely incredible experience as a student pursuing a career in public service. I heard some incredible speakers, some who really changed my priorities as far as public policy, some who shared moving stories, some who have had huge influence in their fields…and I was in awe the whole day.

My favorite speakers were Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Chairman of the DNC Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Lilly Ledbetter, Senator Barbara Mikulski, President of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards, and President Barack Obama (of course). I got my picture taken with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (my new idol–I swear, she has the best job in the world), Lilly Ledbetter (took three tries to grab her, but I got it!), Cecile Richards, and Former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin. I briefly spoke with Richards, Wasserman-Schultz, Kunin (who’s going to come speak for AU College Dems!), and panelist Irene Natividad. And, after the President gave an address, I SHOOK BARACK OBAMA’S HAND!

Aside from hearing, meeting, and touching (haha) some truly incredible people, I also opted to partake in a video shoot for a movie by Obama For America with three other students also in AU Dems. We were asked who we were voting for, why we supported Obama, what the most important issues were to us, why we were at WLF…so long story short, I’ll be featured in a video on Obama’s campaign website! (I’ll definitely post the link when it goes up.)

I had a fantastic time at the Friday portion of Women’s Leadership Forum, and I am so grateful to be a studying political science in the District! There are so many opportunities for students like myself, and I don’t think I’ll be able to pass anything up ever again after the experience I had at WLF. Who knows whose hand I might shake next?

(Side note: While live Tweeting the event, we used the label #WLF, and I quoted someone who said “whisker burns.” And turns out, #WLF has been previously used by the ‘Whiskas Liberation Front’…who knew?)

The 6 Best Moments of the Santorum Campaign (in No Particular Order)

I was eating a boxed lunch when my phone buzzed.  It was a notification from the Huffington Post app, alerting me of a breaking story.  “It can’t be,” I told myself over and over again as I, trembling, Googled the news to confirm.  Sure enough, on Tuesday, April 10, at 2:07 PM EST, Rick Santorum announced that he would be suspending his campaign for president of the United States.

Though discouraged and heartbroken, I could not help but let my mind do what it does best and run through a montage of Rick Santorum’s road to the nomination.  To be sure, it hadn’t been easy.  It was a long, tough, strenuous, murky, frothy ride.

So, to commemorate Santorum’s suspended candidacy, I have put together what I deem the six best moments of his journey, from being the butt of a Dan Savage joke (literally?) to losing the Iowa Caucus to winning the Iowa Caucus.

1. Republican Presidential Primary Debate: Florida

A gay soldier asked whether, if president, Santorum would repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  Santorum, being Santorum, essentially said no, clarifying: “And the fact that they’re making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give [gays] a special privilege to—”  To what?  Obviously, he intended for Americans to let their dirty little minds fill in the blank, because he couldn’t bring himself to finish that sentence.  (His kids were watching.)

It was a proud moment for marriage-defenders and homophobes everywhere.  And everyone else confirmed that Rick Santorum just genuinely doesn’t like gay soldiers due to the fact that they are clearly less preoccupied with taking shrapnel to the ass than taking…anything else to the ass.

2. The Iowa Caucus

Santorum approached the Caucus with about 10 percent in the Ames Straw Poll and “underdog” written all over his sweater vest.  The night of the primary, tens of dozens of Iowans went out to the polls.  He received 24.5 percent of the vote.  As did Mitt Romney.  So, Romney was declared victor and was then cruelly uncrowned as Santorum was announced as the real winner of the Caucus.

But whatever happened to the remaining 51 percent of the vote?  Well, turns out, 51 percent of Iowan voters didn’t want Santorum or Romney to be the nominee.  So, congratulations, Santorum: more people wanted you than wanted Romney…but most people didn’t want either of you.  Ah, pluralism.

3. A Slur, Misunderstood

Santorum (matter-of-fact, out of context): “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”

[CUE PUBLIC OUTCRY AND MEDIA ATTENTION]

Santorum: “I didn’t say ‘black people’, I clearly said ‘blah people’…”

Media: “What? ‘Blah people’ isn’t even a thing.”

Santorum (defensively): “Blah people is too a thing!”

Media (fed up): “No, it’s not. You’re just racist.”

Santorum (desperate): “No, you’re the racist!!”

4. Republican Presidential Primary Debate: New Hampshire

Santorum posited that “the reason Social Security is in big trouble is we don’t have enough workers to support the retirees.”  But how can that be?  “Well,” Santorum continued, “a third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion.”  And just like that, Rick Santorum cleared up what has baffled political scientists through the ages—there aren’t enough workers because women had abortions!  And that’s actually a really great point—why hadn’t anyone else brought that up?

Because at the time of the inception of Social Security, the US had a 6 percent infant mortality rate, physicians performed an estimated 800,000 abortions a year (not to mention back-alley procedures), and around 80 percent of women supported birth control.  By contrast, today around 82,000 abortions are performed a year.  So maybe that’s why nobody had thought of the abortion-leading-to-the-downfall-of-Social-Security thing…but Rick Santorum proved his awe-inspiring mathematical and logics skills in one fell swoop.  And just like that, he was just one logical fallacy closer to suspending his campaign.

5. Allegations of Obama’s Snobbery

While addressing a group from Americans for Prosperity in Michigan, Rick Santorum accused President Obama of the worst possible offense: “President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob.”  Rick Santorum was referring to the liberalism of universities, and how they “indoctrinate” their students.  Many people lashed out at this comment, arguing that it was ludicrous that anyone could oppose higher education for all.

But let’s stop for a minute and consider what the idea really is here: Obama is a snob, and Rick Santorum just wants to educate the voters on that issue.  Plain and simple.  Obama is educated, liberal, elitist, (half) white, Christian (depending on whom you ask), political, and wealthy.  Santorum isn’t all of those things!  Santorum is all white and he’s conservative!  More to the point, do we really want a snobby president?  Santorum didn’t.  In fact, Rick Santorum is so un-snobby that he suggested that not everyone should have the chance to go to college.  A vote for Santorum is a vote for an un-snobby America.  Catchy.

6. Santorum Talks Menstruation

According to Rick Santorum, female soldiers aren’t fit for the front line because they are an emotional roller coaster, which would logically mean that female battalions would have to make sure to roster women that are all on different cycles so that they always have enough people on the field, because that would suck if everyone’s cycle got synchronized, and everyone’s too PMS-y to fight.  Santorum was not being sexist.  He was simply concerned that women on their periods are too emotional to remember why they’re fighting.  It’s really just a gaping hole in our Armed Forces if you think about it.  (Just don’t think about it too hard.)

So those are six moments that stood out in the Santorum presidential campaign.  There were many others, many other shining stars out there of moments that hold places deep in my heart, but I can’t write forever.  America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, and a nation where anything is possible.  Here’s to hoping that Santorum will embrace his American spirit within and try again soon.