Memo Pad: I Am Woman... Watergate Then - And Now

Informal and slightly self-effacing, Rachael Ray's contributions to a Newsweek "Women & Leadership" conference panel earlier this week were flawlessly on-brand...

I AM WOMAN: Informal and slightly self-effacing, Rachael Ray's contributions to a Newsweek "Women & Leadership" conference panel earlier this week were flawlessly on-brand: "Part of our success is that we're an everyman brand, and I just happen to be a woman," she said, adding, "We're aiming to please — I'm essentially still a waitress." To which moderator and ABC anchor Cynthia McFadden responded, "But the tips are better." (Around $6 million in 2006, according to Forbes).

But the easygoing nature of the Rachael Ray brand, she said, also helps facilitate work-life balance. In what she called "the blessing of being the boss," she has decreed that "everyone can bring their kids to work, be it a dog, a cat or a human." Of course, it might help that the Manhattan offices of Every Day with Rachael Ray are far removed from the Pleasantville, N.Y., headquarters of parent Reader's Digest Association.

The upbeat mood continued through a second panel on women in politics which, despite being made up of top aides for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Fred Thompson, plus Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, was exceptionally agreeable. Liz Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, even cited Nancy Pelosi as a role model — twice. And when Cheney said she was going to agree with the two liberal panelists on a point, moderator Anna Quindlen gasped, "Call the AP!"

There was at least one spark, however, thanks to Noonan. She told of being introduced by a fellow speechwriter in her days in the Reagan White House as "the woman speechwriter," a story she'd told before, though perhaps without this addendum: "The guy who introduced me in 1984 as the 'woman speechwriter' is now a member of Congress,'" she said dryly. "And he's still an idiot." Noonan didn't name him, but there aren't that many Reagan speechwriters who fit the bill — and California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has probably learned gender sensitivity since then. — Irin Carmon

"We should have done it faster. We made some celebrated mistakes that have been seared into our heads," said Bob Woodward, recalling his own efforts and those of his colleague, Carl Bernstein, to report the Watergate saga for The Washington Post. Among those missteps, Woodward said, were "going to the grand jury; concealing the fact we were the ones who spoke to the grand jury."
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