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Suzanne Fields

Articles by Suzanne Fields

FIELDS: The dawning of the Obama Era

The president-elect has landed. Like Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama on arriving in Washington headed immediately to the hotel to install his family where they wait to move first to Blair House and then across the street to the White House. When Lincoln misplaced his bedroom slippers, Henry Willard, proprietor of the Willard Hotel, scurried to find slippers big enough to accommodate Honest Abe. So far as we know, nobody at the Hay-Adams Hotel has had to attend to Mr. Obama's cold feet. Published January 8, 2009

FIELDS: New generation of learning

The old guy with a scythe steps aside for the new babe in a diaper, and our usual reflection for this time of year is one of unusual anticipation of what the babe and the new president will bring us. Hopes are particularly high this year, despite the hard and immutable fact that some of the mistakes brought to us by the old guy with the scythe are bound to be transferred to a new generation. Published January 2, 2009

FIELDS: Politics and poetry in season

The holiday season is all ablaze, with lights to brighten the eye and warm the spirit. The candles of Hanukkah, recalling the triumph of the Maccabees in repulsing an army of Syrians who tried to evict the Jews from ancient Israel, twinkle for eight days in the Jewish "festival of the lights." The lights of Christmas celebrate the birth of Christ, symbolizing the coming of the Messiah and the triumph of light over darkness in a world of suffering. Published December 25, 2008

FIELDS: Germany's approach

Chancellor Angela Merkel is suffering a barrage of metaphors, some of them pointed and all of them mixed. So, too, President Nicholas Sarkozy in neighboring France. They're the odd couple of the European Union, usually depicted as friends, but every European understands that kisses on both cheeks do not a romance make. Their dance was once a graceful duet in a light-hearted French operetta, but she's now singing off key in a solo, rendering them a misbegotten couple in a Wagnerian opera. Published December 18, 2008

FIELDS: Private and public, separate and unequal

Nothing dramatizes the two-tier public-education system quite like the announcement by the soon-to-be First Couple that their daughters, 10 and 7, will attend Sidwell Friends, perhaps the elitist of the elite private schools in Washington, tuition $30,000 a year. "Sidwell," the parents joke, "is where Episcopalians teach Jews how to be Quakers." The Obamas called Sidwell, as the locals call it, the "best fit" of security and comfort for their children. No doubt. Few begrudge the Parents-in-Chief seeking the best education money can buy. It's easier than choosing a puppy. Published December 11, 2008

FIELDS: A nation reborn

"In Lincoln's rise from poverty, his ultimate mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat ... he reminded me not just of my own struggles. He also reminded me of a larger fundamental element of American life - the enduring beliefs that we can constantly remake ourselves to fit our larger dreams,"said Barack Obama in Time magazine, June 26, 2005. Published December 4, 2008

Present day vampires

He's handsome, dresses with care, and he's what Joe Biden might call "clean and articulate." Women love him. He's the new beau ideal of the popular culture. But we're not talking about President-elect Barack Obama. Men hardly look to politics to find a heroic model to aspire to, nor do women go there seeking a man of elegance and eloquence to sweep them off their feet, having given up on the knight in shining armor with whom to gallop into the sunset. The horse finished out of the money. We no longer care whether Rhett Butler gives a damn about tomorrow, and Prince Charming, looking for a foot to fit a glass slipper, might settle for a stinky running shoe abandoned in a marathon somewhere along the way. Published November 20, 2008

FIELDS: The color of politics

The presidential couples, Laura and George W. Bush and Michelle and Barack Obama, standing in front of the White House, looked buff and comely in their ease and smiles. The president and the president-elect in their dark suits and blue ties and Laura and Michelle in different shades of red suggested cordiality with dignity. (If one couple looked more tanned than the other, only a churl would have imagined that an insult). Published November 13, 2008

FIELDS: Stereotype redeemed

I voted, therefore I am. That's a fair updating of Descartes after a total immersion in politics over an endless presidential campaign. The campaign flattened and fragmented us into categories of gender, race and class. Candidates and their surrogates appealed to the limited ways most of us see ourselves. But at the end of the ordeal -- the fact of the victory of president-elect Barack Obama -- if not necessarily his politics or what he might do with his mandate, redeems the pain. Published November 6, 2008

Fear and loathing of Palin

Yogi Berra famously observed that "you can see a lot by looking." I know exactly what the great New York Yankee meant. You can hear a lot by listening, too. Over the homestretch of the presidential campaign, I've been spending a lot of time at a rehabilitation hospital with someone very close to me, as she recovers from back surgery. Much of the conversation in this microcosm of the urban health-care system is about Barack Obama and John McCain. Most of the doctors are white men, the physical and occupational therapists and nurses are mostly white women, the aides and technicians are usually immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. The patients come in all colors and the bills will be paid by private insurance, Medicaid and Medicare. It is something of a pollster's dream. Published October 30, 2008

FIELDS: As endorsements go

Not so long ago, when you wanted to make a personal endorsement of a candidate for office, even for president of the United States, the ritual was simple. You just stuck a sticker on the back bumper of the family car or put up a cardboard sign in the front yard. Published October 23, 2008

Irrational exuberance

"Throw the bums out!" That's one of the most familiar campaign cries in our history. It's even more effective than Herbert Hoover's slogan of "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage," and stirs the blood like "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too" never could. Sometimes a little bum-throwing makes sense. Sometimes it doesn't. Published October 16, 2008

Something about Sarah

Despite everything Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama can do, Sarah Palin continues to be the liveliest of the candidates, now starting the clubhouse turn and about to race down the homestretch. There's only one more presidential debate to endure. By this time in a campaign, both presidential candidates are so programmed, their talking points so tested and trite, if not necessarily true, that viewers long for a refreshing gaffe. But all we get is a Tuesday-night debate where both men seem terrified of saying something interesting and new. Tom Brokaw tried. Published October 9, 2008

FIELDS: Closing time

Newspaper accounts of past presidential campaigns nearly always reveal the singular moment when the public finally decided who should prevail on Election Day. A foolish remark, a speech not made, an inability to catch an unexpected swing in the public mood. It's often less that the winner fired the silver bullet than that the loser forgot to duck. Only the hindsight of the historian actually determines the fateful moment. Published October 2, 2008

FIELDS: Numbers don't add up

We have to forget about the end of history. It's the end of economic ideology as we know it that requires thinking outside the box. With conservatives cheering, or at least tolerating, big-government bail-outs and more regulation of what was once the free market, and liberals conceding that this is no time to expand government-funded programs dear to their hearts, we're in a shake-up, not a meltdown. Published September 25, 2008

Putting the squeeze on Palin

The notabilities of the mainstream media are suffering acute PMS. That's Palin Motherhood Syndrome. Instead of appreciating Sarah Palin as mother, experienced executive and smart politician, they're venting their rage at the multi-tasking mom. How could she hide her pregnancy for so many months? How dare she return to work as governor of Alaska three days after giving birth? How could she deprive her teen-age daughter of effective sex education? And how could she have deprived both herself and the daughter of an abortion when that would have solved everything so neatly? Published September 11, 2008

Gender politics

Like none before it, this presidential campaign is redefining what it can mean to be a woman. That wizened Austrian doctor who famously asked, "what do women want?" finally concluded that he didn't have a clue. Freud understood, like men before and after him, that women were a mysterious mixture of the good, the bad and the beautiful. Published September 4, 2008

Convention(al) reflections

It's hard to be a hero in America. John Kerry learned that the hard way. He returned from the war in Vietnam, decorated by a grateful country, and turned on the men he had left behind, accusing them of crimes and atrocities. Years later, after he "reported for duty" as the nominee of his party, he was "swift-boated" by men with whom he had served. Turn about may or may not have been fair play, but it was enough to sink Mr. Kerry's boat. Published August 28, 2008

The lady dithered

There's nothing mellow about Hillary Clinton. She's the greatest polarizer since Richard Nixon. Her defenders are fierce, her detractors ferocious. It's not because she's a woman that she's "the might have been" - as Democrats gather this week for their convention in Denver - it's because of the kind of woman she is. Published August 21, 2008