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Rock Critic Ken Tucker reviews Bonnie Raitt's latest album "Fundamental." Raitt has new record producers working with her. Instead of Don Was, Raitt is using Mitchell Froom and Chad Blake on "Fundamental." They are best known for their work with Suzanne Vega, Los Lobos and Richard Thompson.



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Other segments from the episode on May 7, 1998

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, May 7, 1998: Interview with Pat Schroeder; Review of Bonnie Raitt's album "Fundamental."


Date: MAY 07, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 050701np.217
Head: Pat Schroeder
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:06

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

My guest Pat Schroeder spent 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, longer than any other woman. Now, she's written a memoir about her life in politics. There were few women in Congress when she got there in 1973.

She co-founded the Congressional Women's Caucus and served as co-chair for over 15 years. She was an advocate for many women's issues. She fought for the Equal Rights Amendment and sponsored the Violence Against Women Act, the Child Abuse Accountability Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. She specialized in sexual harassment legislation.

She raised two children while she served in Congress. In 1987, Schroeder became the second woman, following Shirley Chisholm, to run for the presidential nomination of a major party, but Schroeder withdrew early on. She's now president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers.

I asked her to describe some of the ways she saw Congress change for women during her 24 years.

PAT SCHROEDER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN PUBLISHERS, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (D-CO), AUTHOR, "24 YEARS OF HOUSE WORK AND THE PLACE IS STILL A MESS": Well when I first came, there were no women pages, no women interns, no women anything. I mean, there -- it really was the guy gulagag (ph). And the attitude was: you're just so lucky that we let you on the House floor. You shouldn't ask for anything else and stay out of the way.

There were just a handful of women and about half of them had inherited their husband's seats, so they really had kind of a different identity than women who'd been elected as women. And so, we couldn't get a caucus together or anything else. When you've only got 14 people -- if you've got half of them that refuse to join, you know, what is a caucus of seven? Seven -- it has moved a long way, to where now we have 55 women, practically all of them elected in their own right and standing on their own feet.

It's still not a critical mass, Terry. You know, everybody says when women make a critical mass in an institution, they really begin to change it. And we haven't done that yet. But the trend-lines are right, and I honestly think we're even very close to see women on the two different parties top of the tickets for the year 2000. They may not be in the top, but they may be vice presidential candidates.

GROSS: What were some of the stereotypes you feel you faced early in your political career, and some of the reservations that men had about women in office?

SCHROEDER: Well, I came with two little kids. I came with a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old, and in 1972, that just was not done. Even Bella Abzug said to me: "I don't think you can do the job." You know, it's just not possible. Your most progressive people would say: "well, women can have a career or they can have a family, but they better not try and have both."

So, the thought that I was brazen enough and young -- I mean, 32 years old, blowing in from Denver. Many people were just horrified; just horrified. And I think that the country has changed so much on those issues in these 24 years.

We still have a lot of work and family issues we need to pass, but attitudes have changed. And I -- you know, members would come up and say things to me that were just a riot. They'd say things like: "you're a fluke, aren't you? I mean, Denver made a mistake, didn't they?"

They probably thought "Pat" was a male. You won't be back next time, will you? It just -- they were totally fascinated -- is that how I got elected. At that time, somebody did a survey of what the Congress looked like and pointed out that Congress at that time basically represented four percent of America. Men over 60 that were Anglo and fairly well-to-do.

So, anybody like me was considered massive affirmative action.

GROSS: Just curious -- were you "Pat" or "Patricia" on that first ballot?

SCHROEDER: I was "Pat."

GROSS: Well, wait, wait -- maybe this guy had a point. Did people think you were a man when they voted for you?

SCHROEDER: I don't think so. I think they had pictures of me all over town, and I don't think I've ever looked very manly. So, I think they had that one figured out. But they were just all curious, trying to figure out how this could possibly happen.

Part of it -- you know, this is a very competitive bunch, Congress, and what it really means is if women can be viable candidates, then suddenly the candidate pool against them has expanded tremendously. So, they were very interested in whether things were changing enough so that women could be viable candidates in places other than Denver.

GROSS: In your new memoir, you tell a story of how you were drafted to run for Congress that first time out. Give us the story there.

SCHROEDER: My husband was on a committee looking for someone to run. Remember, we had McGovern at the top of the Democratic ticket, so everybody that they went to see that was, you know, a professional politician, all laughed and said: "no way. McGovern doesn't have any coattails. He's wearing a bikini and this is a disaster." And because there was a Republican incumbent sitting in the seat and everybody assumed he was a shoo-in.

So literally my husband came home one night and said: "well, guess whose name came up at the meeting?" And I said: "I don't know." And he said: "yours." And I said: "mine?"


How could you possibly (unintelligible) of me? I mean I haven't done anything in particular vis-a-vis politics. And he said: "well, I know," and he said "you'll never win, but it is just so important that somebody go carry the mantle and carry forward in the debate." And there we were launched right there.

GROSS: Did you have any political aspirations at all?

SCHROEDER: No. I mean, I had gone to Harvard Law School and I had two wonderful part-time jobs, which as you know were very hard to get, that were meaningful. All during the campaign, I never gave up my part-time jobs because I realized what great jobs they were and I thought, well, I'll just be back trying to find great jobs again. So, I'm one of the few people who ever ran for Congress that kept all their jobs.

And so, I just really had never thought of myself as a politician. I'd been interested in political issues and interested in all sorts of different events of the day, but I grew up in a time when you just didn't see women in politics.

GROSS: What was your reaction when you won? Were you -- were you shocked and were you sorry that you actually had to accept this position that you'd been elected to?

SCHROEDER: I was terrified. I really was so convinced, because everybody who knew anything -- every professional -- had said there's just no way. And actually, there were just a couple Republican incumbents that lost that year. It was just -- Nixon just swept through, if you remember. So, we were stunned.

My husband was stunned. I mean, he had gone around telling everybody "oh yeah, if she gets elected, I will move to Washington." But I don't think he ever thought that that was going to happen either. So he's suddenly thinking: "I've got to sever my relationship with my law firm. What have we done to our life."

And we literally got up in the morning -- there was press all over the front yard. We looked out the window and said: "OK, how are we going to get through this?" And we said: "we've got an idea." We slipped out the back door with both children, hailed a cab, went to the airport, and flew to Disneyland for three days, and decided we'd just have to sit there and figure out we were going to cope now.

GROSS: Pat Schroeder is my guest, and she's written a memoir about her 24 years in the House of Representatives called "24 Years of Housework and the Place is Still a Mess."

Early on, you were -- you got on the House Armed Services Committee which has always been a powerful committee, but was particularly powerful then because of the Vietnam War. I'm wondering what it was like to be a woman on this committee that was so much about a male world of the military?

SCHROEDER: It was flaming awful. There's just no other words to it. I had asked to be on it because, first of all, there were no women. Secondly, I had a pilot's license so I thought, well, you know, I understand an awful lot about this technology and this stuff. That will be helpful.

And thirdly, I figured that's where all the money is, which is still true, you know? So be where the money is 'cause no matter what you want to do, they'll say there isn't any money. Well, I'll find them some ways that they can transfer.

So I asked to be on it, and what happened was -- so did Ron Dellums, who was an African-American from Oakland, California, he asked to be on the committee too. The chairman of the committee was F. Eddie Hebert from New Orleans, Louisiana. He went nuts. He wanted no girls, no blacks, no anything.

He vetoed us, and for the first time they overrode a chairman's veto. At that time, the chairmen were like the College of Cardinals. No one ever questioned what they did, and they governed their committees like a fiefdom.

So this guy was in total shock that his power had been stopped. And what he did was he decided, well, OK, he couldn't do anything about that, as he raged on and on, but the one thing he controlled was how many chairs he could have on the committee. And he decided that Ron and I were each worth only about a half of his normal regular membership. So, we had one chair to share.

Now, we -- we verbalized about this. We went to the press with this. We, you know, protested about this. I had buttons made that said: "help, I have Hebert by the tail." Actually, I think it was the other way around. He had me by the tail 'cause he was the chairman and I wasn't.

But the -- the good news is is when the class of '74 came in -- the Watergate babies -- they decided they wanted to do some massive reforms and do it right away. And so they changed the caucus rules, so we started electing our chairmen. And F. Eddie Hebert was one of the first guys to go, which made me feel very good.

GROSS: So, let me get this straight. You couldn't have brought in an extra chair so you and Dellums didn't have to share a seat?

SCHROEDER: He controlled it. He controlled the chairs in this room. I guess he decided that this was the one bit of power he had left. He had been so diminished in his power.

GROSS: Did you sit on the same seat at the same time or alternate?

SCHROEDER: Oh, yeah. I mean, cheek to cheek from top to bottom, and trying to do that with dignity is tough. You know, we laugh about it now, it really wasn't funny then. And the most horrifying part of it, Terry, was none of the other committee members saw it. It was like "hear no evil, see no evil" -- mainly because they didn't want to upset the chairman. He was like a bear with a burr in his paw, and nobody wanted to go take him on.

So he allowed it to -- I mean, they all allowed him to just be this wonderful little tyrant, and it took the rest of the caucus to finally join with us to finally get rid of him.

GROSS: In a 1973 article that you wrote in The Nation, you described the Armed Services Committee as resembling membership in a sacred fraternal order. You said differences must be resolved behind closed doors, thus any enlightening dialogue is stifled on most defense issues.

Would you elaborate on that for us?

SCHROEDER: Absolutely. I was absolutely stunned that the chairman would say: "now, this -- we don't have any partisan staff. We've just got one -- 'cause we're all Americans and we're all for the military, and there's just no reason to have a lot of these messy hearings and stuff. We just want to know what they want and we're going to give it to them."

And basically at that time, most of the committee members were from the South, all had huge military installations in their district and figured that they would be in Congress forever and ever, amen, as long as they protected those.

So, they weren't about to question anything, nor was he. So, here was the chairman and this committee that controlled the largest part of the federal budget, and yet they really had the smallest staff and the smallest oversight tools because the attitude was: "well, why would we care? If they need it, we trust them. They want it. Let's do it."

GROSS: My guest is Pat Schroeder. She served in the House for 24 years as a Democrat from Colorado. She's written a new memoir. More after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

If you're just joining us, my guest is Pat Schroeder. She served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 24 years and has written a memoir about her political life.

You came into Congress in the Watergate era. Shortly after you entered Congress, President Nixon resigned. And I'm wondering what impact Watergate had on you in your formative years of political life?

SCHROEDER: Well, it was stunning. I mean, imagine coming in and the whole presidency was under attack. And the Judiciary Committee was meeting night and day. And they only had a certain number of tapes and headphones, so the Judiciary Committee would go down and listen to these Nixon tapes that we now know all about. They would come to the floor absolutely ashen -- just stunned by the stuff that they had heard the President of the United States talk about.

We now all know much more about that. But all of it was the world turned upside down. Remember, we also had the '73 war going on in Israel, which was also a frightening time. And I was never there for the briefing, but several times there were members who were over for briefings at the White House who said, literally, if Nixon were ever challenged, he would say: "now look, all I have to do is push this button and we're -- we're in war."

It -- it was a very weird time. You thought, well I hope the button isn't connected, but what if it is? So, it was a lot to process at 32, I'll tell you.

GROSS: Did it make you think that politics was dirty?

SCHROEDER: Didn't make me think that politics was dirty. It made me think that people do anything for power. And I think that's what Watergate was about. When you think of Nixon having such a huge lead. I mean, he was no more threatened by McGovern than the man in the moon. McGovern carried like one state or something.

And yet nevertheless, they went through all these -- these burglaries and things because they were so worried about that. So, it was a real lesson for me about really watch how corrupting power is. Absolute power corrupts -- and it corrupts absolutely.

GROSS: When you say that was a lesson to you, what did you take away from that in terms of pursuing power, 'cause I mean any politician has to pursue power in order to stay in office.

SCHROEDER: Well, it's interesting. I've always said that women in the Congress pursue power a lot differently. We wanted power for something. I want power for getting day care passed or family medical leave passed or whatever the issue that I'm working on -- different environmental pieces and so forth.

And very often, you saw men who wanted power over -- power over people. The idea that they can shoot at your feet and tell you to tap dance just gives them great glee. Those people shouldn't be there. I'm sorry. That is -- that is a total mis-use of power. And I think it so colored how I looked at every single person in office from then on, and how they used power.

To me, that was always their defining thing: A did they take themselves real seriously? -- because sometimes they'd take themselves much too seriously. I always said: "I don't take myself seriously, but I take the job very seriously." And then, B were they really much more about power than they were about public service and the other parts that we and the democracies that we're so proud of, is the thing that should really make you popular.

GROSS: During your middle years in Congress, "family values" became an important phrase. What was it like for you to raise a family while serving in the Congress in the '70s? How did you divide your time between being a mother and being a congress -- congresswoman early in your political career -- when your children were young?

SCHROEDER: Absolutely. It was very hard. It was very, very hard. And you just had to really sit down and think about rules that you were going to live by, because I saw so many people who always felt the family would wait. And when they gave up the job, they'd go home and reintroduce themselves to the family, only to find out that the family didn't wait. They went home and the family had moved on somewhere, and that was the end of it.

I always figured that when you finally got off this train, really the only people who were going to be waiting for you in the station was going to be your family, unless you had screwed it up. So, it was very important to keep them involved.

And that I did. Our kids went back and forth to the district. They flew on the plane. We took bunny rabbits. We took dogs. We took whatever that was going. It was like the traveling menagerie every weekend. They had a great time going back and forth between Denver and Washington. They knew that they could call me anytime; that I was accessible. We did dinner every night.

GROSS: Did you have a special number for the kids?

SCHROEDER: No, but they -- you know, my office knew to put them through instantly or find me instantly. It would be great. You get called off the House floor, you know, into the cloakroom -- you're running; your heart's in your throat. And somebody says: "he hit me."


And you're negotiating -- but it's important to do that. And we had a rule about having dinner together every night of the week and we did it. It -- very often it ended up being in the House dining room, but the cabs would bring the kids in or the housekeeper that -- when they were younger -- would bring them in. Hopefully, we'd get home.

But I'd say: people, you get me for breakfast, you get me for lunch, but you don't get me for dinner. And we really worked very hard to keep everybody plugged in and attached.

GROSS: You've said that you think one of the reasons that progress has been so slow on the area of family-related issues and women's rights is that a lot of the men in Congress have had the kind of wives who kind of gave their lives to support their husband. Elaborate on that thought for us.

SCHROEDER: Well Terry, you're saying it very nicely. I'm always much more direct, but I always figured if I had had a wife, I might have been joining them. My husband and I have always joked about the fact that I want a wife and he wants a wife, and we ask for one every year for Christmas and we never get one.

But when the women lawyers did a profile of the Congress, what they found is the Congress and the Senate is just the reverse of what the society is. If you look at society, only 10 percent of our families look like a Norman Rockwell painting. But if you look at our elected officials, only 10 percent don't look like a Norman Rockwell painting.

So, when you say to people who always have an adult caregiver in the home able to fill in gaps and do all of -- when you talk to them about child care, they hear "babysitting." You know, babysitting's entirely different -- if you're going to play tennis or going to the movies or something -- versus child care, where you're going to work.

They also had an attitude that if I didn't let up, all their wives might go to work and life would be much tougher for them. I never understood that because I've never met a woman, and I've met a lot of them, who said: "gee, if we just had better day care, I would run right out and go to work." It's the economy that pulls people out of their homes to work. It's kids going to college. It's people wanting vacations. It's -- you know, it's the price of housing. That's why people go to work.

GROSS: Pat Schroeder -- her new memoir is called 24 Years of Housework and the Place is Still a Mess. She'll be back in the second half of the show.

I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESH AIR.

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Back with Pat Schroeder. She served in the U.S. House of Representatives 24 years -- longer than any other woman. Her specialty was women's issues. She's written a new memoir about her life in politics and how Congress has changed for women since she became a member in 1973.

Abortion was legalized the year that you were sworn into Congress. And you've had to debate the abortion issue through your congressional career. As you write in your new memoir, you're the mother of two. You've had difficult pregnancies. You lost twins during one pregnancy.


GROSS: And nearly hemorrhaged to death after your daughter was born. And I'd like to hear how those experiences affected, if at all, your stand on abortion and the way you would debate abortion.

SCHROEDER: Oh, certainly. Well first of all, when I was at Harvard Law School, my husband and I were married after our first year. And I suddenly encountered -- this was pre-Griswold versus Connecticut, the Supreme Court decision on family planning -- and we suddenly discovered that you were not allowed to have birth control pills in the State of Massachusetts. It was a crime.

So, we were having to smuggle them in over the border, and I kept thinking: "gee, if I ever got arrested for bringing in birth control pills to Harvard, I would never be able to practice, 'cause I'd have this on my record."

So I've been very interested in it 'cause my life kind of paralleled some of the huge changes that have gone on in this country vis-a-vis women and controlling their reproductive systems. I was stunned. You know, there's an image around here that pregnancy's really easy. It's like a nine-month cruise. There can be no problems.

So, I kind of felt like the poster child for safe motherhood, when I got through all of these incredible crises of A, losing twins, which was very awful; and then B, the issues with my daughter. When she was born, she was great. I go home. Hemorrhaging starts and I'm telling you, I was -- they were giving me last rites. I thought it was over.

Now, it affected me several different ways. It affected me in the way that probably I wouldn't have been crazy enough to run for office or do anything. If you're given last rites at 30, you suddenly realize how fragile life is and you try anything that comes around 'cause you never know what's going to happen the next day.

But secondly, in the abortion debate and the family debate debate, it was always amazing to me how members of Congress wanted to give these lectures and tell women what they were supposed to do with their body, and their real assumptions were that there was absolutely no reason any woman would ever have to stop a pregnancy, except she wanted to fit in a prom dress or she changed her mind, you know, late into the pregnancy or whatever.

And my experiences were really quite different than that. So, I would stand up and I would talk about this. And I remember some of them would say things to me that I thought were totally out of bounds. They'd say things like: "well, you know, you obviously are some kind of a weirdo. You should have just had a hysterectomy." And I thought: "you have no right to tell me that I couldn't try to have children, for goodness sakes." I wanted children desperately.

But they just didn't want that wonderful little picture that they had that this is just a great time for women and the only -- but they have to pass laws because otherwise women are so evil that if they don't have these laws on the books, women are going to run out in the eighth month and suddenly change their mind and decide not to have the child. I just think that's ridiculous.

GROSS: You write in your memoir that both Presidents Reagan and Bush seemed terrified of women's issues. How so?

SCHROEDER: He -- he really, I think, just didn't have any idea what to do with the congresswomen. In all eight years we were there, we tried to get in to see him, and he wanted no part of it. We had had a tradition established during the Carter administration where we met frequently with Mrs. Carter and worked on all sorts of projects as congresswomen with her.

So we thought, well, we'll reach out and try to do this with Nancy Reagan. We did it once. It did not work. I mean, we were told we couldn't talk about any issues. We could only talk about fashion.

Hey, you know, a bunch of congresswomen talking about fashion -- we run out of something to say before you get through the salad course. I mean, we just -- we are not -- there's a lot of pictures in the book, as you well know, and you can tell that fashion...

GROSS: Not your strong suit.

SCHROEDER: ... yeah, fashion was not my strong suit.


So, that -- that didn't work. And then when Bush came, I tend to think that basically President Bush, I hope as an individual felt differently, but he just got so much pressure from his party, and the way he approached it was just to duck and not have anything to do with us either. So literally, we went for 12 years without ever getting a meeting on women's issues with the president.

That's pretty amazing, that these elected women in the women's caucus, which was the largest bipartisan caucus on the Hill, couldn't get in. And I think they just didn't know what to do.

GROSS: You were co-chair of Gary Hart's presidential campaign when the Donna Rice story broke. And you say in your book: "I felt we'd all been let down by him." I'd like to hear your reaction to President Clinton's alleged infidelities, and if you feel let down or betrayed, judging from what you've heard.

SCHROEDER: Well, I don't want to try the case. I think the pundits in America got way out there in that very first weekend when the Monica Lewinsky thing broke, you know. They were on television saying: "this is it. He's going to be impeached. It's over." You know. And I think Americans said: "wait a minute. Don't you -- doesn't he have the right to be tried like everyone else? Don't we get to figure this out?"

Now, the Gary Hart thing, yes I felt we'd been led down the garden path because, you know, these rumors are out there, but we were kind of assured that "oh, well, those are just rumors" -- and in fact, as you remember, he said to the press: "so follow me." So they did. So guess what? They found him. And you're just like: "oh, my word, this is an error of judgment. This is stupidity. This is an outrage." We were reeling.

But right now, I don't know what you can say because I don't think we still know what the facts truly are.

GROSS: But I think it is an issue, particularly for a feminist politician such as yourself to grapple with. Well, say some of these accusations are true. What would it mean? What kind of standard of behavior do we expect of our elected leaders? And if something happens, whether or not it's technically sexual harassment, what is acceptable and what's not in someone's private life? And so, I'd like to hear your thoughts about that.

SCHROEDER: Well clearly, Washington has a strong code of conduct vis-a-vis interns. I think when interns come to the city, you do not abuse them in any way, shape or form -- sexually, work-wise, or anything else. These are young people who are idealistic. They're coming in. They're hopefully future leaders.

So, if those allegations are true, they would clearly be in violation of kind of the unstated code of how you treat young interns in any office, who are so vulnerable, really. They get no pay and so forth. So, that would be really quite surprising to me, if that had been violated.

On the other ones, I just -- I just can't quite figure out what it's all about. I wrote an awful lot of the law on sexual harassment. And we have a terrific division in this country right now, and I hope the Supreme Court sorts it all out. We have some circuits that went in a direction that I don't think any of us intended.

GROSS: Such as?

SCHROEDER: Well, when you suddenly have cases where someone says a guy can't put a picture of his wife on his desk in a bikini because somebody finds that sexually harassing, that is way too far. We always thought that there should be some kind of a "reasonable woman" standard and not just "well, I'm so sensitive that no one could ever say that to me. Even though a reasonable person wouldn't be offended by that, I am. So therefore, I win."

The reasonable woman standard, I think, clearly has to come into this or men have the right to say they have no idea how to behave; that if -- if however anybody wants to construe it, is then what the court takes, that's no good. So I hope that that gets put to rest fairly soon.

I also think that you -- that we have to see women as adults. I mean, being a feminist, we see women as grown human beings. So as grown human beings, we're supposed to have some responsibility for our lives. Now, anyone who has power over you, or anyone who's a stranger or anyone like that, that's very different and you suddenly cross the legal lines, and you should have a case, I think.

And I think we really need to have a time out in this country and discuss much more about what sexual harassment is and get the air cleared.

GROSS: How do you define it?

SCHROEDER: I think first of all you have to have quid pro quo and it has to be somebody who has power over you to -- and that means to hire and fire and effectively recommend. And if they're putting pressure on you one way or another, then they are abusing their power. It gets back to my old power trip, right? If somebody's powertripping, that's what they're doing -- that's wrong.

If you're at the water cooler and somebody tells you a joke you don't like, walk away. You know, don't bring a lawsuit, for crying out loud. I must say if I had to look at this last year, and the issues dealing with women and with sexual harassment, the case that haunts me totally is the McKinney case in the military.

That's the one that's really going to affect women's lives because women in the military were virtually told by that case: it makes no difference. There were six of you, you know, randomly attacked. All kind of said the same thing, and the jury didn't believe it. The jury went with the other guy.

That to me was absolutely stunning and it said that our women in the military have absolutely no protection from sexual harassment. And that -- that is the case that I think we ought to be up in arms about.

GROSS: Did you agree with the judge's decision to throw out the Paula Jones sexual harassment case?

SCHROEDER: Yeah, I think she made a right case. That doesn't mean you condone what she alleges. They were disgusting, awful, terrible things, if what she alleged was true. But it doesn't appear that there was any quid pro quo.

The only thing that I have seen that was alleged as quid pro quo was she said she didn't get something for National Secretaries Day or something, and I don't think that's going to hold up very long as a really intimidating thing.

GROSS: My guest is Pat Schroeder. She served in the House for 24 years as a Democrat from Colorado. She's written a new memoir. We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

My guest is Pat Schroeder.

With the allegations about President Clinton's sexual life, I'm wondering if that's information you would like to know? Or, if you feel that that's information you shouldn't have to know because it's his private life? And would you like to know it so you could kind of judge his character and judge whether his character coincides with what is needed for office? Or, should that be off-limits?

I mean in a way right now, it can't be off limits because of a lawsuit, but...

SCHROEDER: Well, what is -- sure. Right. But character -- what is character? A character is a composite of a whole lot of things. I always say first of all, probably the most important part about character is your word. It seems to me in politics, the only thing you've got is your word. And the day that you give your word and it turns out to be wrong, then hey, I'm done.

So I am -- I am, you know, very -- if -- he has said he didn't do this, if it comes out that he did do this, then I would be very concerned on a character charge because I do think you have to level with people one way or another.

GROSS: Let me just ask a straightforward question here: if -- if it were true that President Clinton when he was governor pulled down his pants and said "kiss it" to Paula Jones, is that something that is, as a feminist politician, you feel would be unconscionable? Or would you -- is that something you would learn to live with?

SCHROEDER: No, I think it's disgusting. It causes, you know, you have dry heaves. But you walk away as an adult, for crying out loud. Do you run to a court with everything that's disgusting?

GROSS: I don't mean if he did it to you, but I mean if you knew that he did that to someone -- that that was part of his repertoire of behavior, would you find him an acceptable candidate to endorse or...

SCHROEDER: No. No. I mean, I think that's -- if somebody has a real problem that does that. I mean, that is -- that is like an alcohol problem or -- somebody who's going around and doing that type of thing, that is a very serious problem and they ought to get some help and I find it disgusting.

GROSS: Some people have criticized some feminist leaders for not taking a stronger stand against what President Clinton is alleged to have done. And I'm wondering if you think that women politicians have been in a very difficult spot right now with these allegations...


GROSS: ... trying to figure out what their strategy should be, what they should say, what they shouldn't say, what they should pass judgment on, what they should withhold judgment about.

SCHROEDER: Well, I love this question, Terry. I mean, first of all, as one who's been out trying to define and pass legislation on sexual harassment for years, I think it's pretty amazing that the Rutherford Institute stands up and says to the press: "we are the number one group concerned about sexual harassment and where are the feminists? How come they're not helping us with Paula Jones?"

Let me tell you something. I never saw the Rutherford Institute in any of these cases. I never saw them in the McKinney case. Where were they? I think they have an entirely different agenda and I've been rather shocked that the press didn't go peel that off and ask them that. But they've done a -- you know, the best defense is a good offense, and they have had a great offense against "where are feminists" and "why aren't they speaking on this."

I guess my question is: is are women supposed to try people in the press and men don't? I mean, why aren't men speaking on this? Why are we supposed to try them? When I ask that question, they immediately say: "oh, well, there was Packwood and there was Clarence Thomas." And I say: "yes, I was very involved in that, and the reason was the Senate wasn't even going to let the women state their case." They weren't going to allow Anita Hill to testify on Clarence Thomas because they didn't think it was a big deal.

And you know, we had to march over there and say: "for crying out loud, this woman has the right to be heard anyway." And it was the same with the -- the issue of Packwood -- the 26 women show up and the Ethics Committee decides they're not going to listen to them. That's not relevant. And we said to them: "this -- this is not a good idea."

So in both of those things, we were not trying the people in the press, but we were saying they had a right to state their case in the institution and forum where it was.

Now, if you take Paula Jones and you take everyone else, they're not short of resources. They're trying their case every day in the press. And I'm not quite sure why we're supposed to go decide who's lying and who's not and be the jury right now.

GROSS: Pat Schroeder, you ran for the presidency after Gary Hart decided not to run because of the Donna Rice incident. Did you get a different sense of how America responds to a woman candidate as a presidential candidate, than the impression you got as a congressional candidate?


SCHROEDER: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, and actually, that was pre-Cold War. I mean, the Cold War was still going on, and so I think -- hopefully, it's different now and hopefully we're going to see women at the top of the ticket sooner.

But we would always say at that time, you know, a President of the United States, commander-in-chief, leader of the free world -- and so people would instantly say: "you don't look presidential." Which meant, nobody who had been president looked like me.

When I shed some tears deciding that I wasn't going to go forward with the presidential race, it was the young women journalists who went flaming crazy. They were like "that's the end of it; no woman in my lifetime can ever run for president because this woman shed some tears."


GROSS: You let us all down.

SCHROEDER: Yeah, why didn't the guys say that about Muskie? I mean, you know, when Muskie shed some tears, I don't remember any men saying: "well, that's the end of men. They can never run for anything 'cause he shed some tears."

So you know, it really is such an extreme sensitivity that women have to every single thing a woman politician does, and I think it's because we're just gradually getting used to this comfort zone and every day it gets better.

GROSS: Listen, by the way, I know that feeling of feeling uh-oh, I'm about to cry. This is about the worst thing that could happen to me.


GROSS: This will be really humiliating if I allow myself to cry. But too bad, I can't control it. Did you go through that when -- when you were shedding your tears in your speech when you were resigning from the candidacy, thinking like "uh-oh" -- I better not do this, but I can't help it."

SCHROEDER: Well, there I was and what happened was when I announced, there were all -- there were a couple thousand people standing out there, and when I announced that I wasn't going to run, there was this huge groan, and people were going "no, no, no, no" and I was just totally unprepared for that and it just hit me like a lightning bolt.

And so a few tears were coming down the cheeks before I even knew what to do. I didn't even have time to go through that "oh no, not here, not now."


Then you look up and realize you are surrounded by cameras. This is absolutely a nightmare. But you know, I spent a lot of time from then on, people would go around and say: "well, we're upset about that because we don't want anybody's finger on the nuclear button that cries." And I'd say: "well, I want to tell you something: I don't want anybody's finger on the nuclear button that doesn't cry. Let's debate it."

They -- they really -- when you look at men now in this post-Cold War period, I have kept a huge crying file and I don't think there's a politician that doesn't have to go out and cry to show that they care...


... and they're compassionate and they're -- so I do think it's -- 10 years is a big change.

GROSS: You really have a file?

SCHROEDER: Oh, yeah. It's amazing -- almost every politician and every athlete and Margaret Thatcher and all of it -- you know, Sununu got to blubbering so hard he couldn't finish his speech when he left the New Hampshire legislature. So, please -- and of course, Ronald Reagan could do it with just, you know, boom. It was very effective for him.

GROSS: Well, I want to thank you very much for talking with us.

SCHROEDER: Well thank you, Terry.

GROSS: Pat Schroeder has written a political memoir called 24 Years of Housework and the Place Is Still a Mess.

Coming up, Ken Tucker reviews Bonnie Raitt's new CD.

This is FRESH AIR.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: Pat Schroeder
High: Former congresswoman Pat Schroeder. She was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 24 years. She's the first woman to hold the office that long. During that time, she championed causes important to women: pay equity, the Equal Rights Amendment, breast cancer research, and family leave. She also landed a coveted spot on the House Armed Services Committee. She also coined the term "teflon president" to describe Ronald Reagan. She's written a new memoir, "24 Years of House Work and the Place is Still a Mess."
Spec: Women; Politics; Government; Pat Schroeder; Marriage
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Pat Schroeder
Date: MAY 07, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 050702np.217
Head: Fundamental
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:55

TERRY GROSS, HOST: Bonnie Raitt has just released her 15th album. It's called "Fundamental." Over the past years, Raitt has had great commercial success with a trio of studio albums produced by Don Was. But on Fundamental, she worked with new collaborators -- producers Mitchell Froom and Chad Blake, best known for their work with Suzanne Vega, Los Lobos, and Richard Thompson.

Rock critic Ken Tucker says the result is a fresh approach from a veteran performer.


Let's run naked through the city streets
We're all victims of captivity
Wear our madness like a crucifix
Let's tattoo bible quotes across both our hips

Let's get back
To the fundamental things
Let's get back
To the elements of style

Let's get back
Simple skin on skin
Let's get back
Yeah, to the fundamental things...

KEN TUCKER, FRESH AIR COMMENTATOR: It's not so much the fundamental things that Bonnie Raitt is getting back to on her CD. It's more a matter of shaking up those fundamentals, approaching them from different angles.

Raitt has always rooted rock and roll and the blues, and vocalized it with a folksinger's sincerity. Her essential earnestness has always manifested itself aesthetically through uncluttered, ungimmicky production.

When she tried to slick up her music, as she did on the 1986 album "Nine Lives," it resulted in her most lifeless music ever. So it's understandable that once she hooked up with Don Was, who helped her achieve both a satisfying austerity, critical acclaim, and a bunch of Grammy Awards, she'd stick with him for a while.

But Raitt is also smart enough to know that after three albums, her work with Was had inevitably run out of new variations. And her instinct was to dirty up her sound -- make it more raw and funky.


RAITT, SINGING: You've come home late from work, babe
You wonder why it ain't on the table
Well after the day that I've had
I don't believe I'm able

You give me every little reason in the (unintelligible)
But there's something that I think you don't know
You say you're tired, well so am I
Baby, you've got to try and

Meet me half way
Or we ain't gonna make it, babe
Meet me half way
If you want to get it right

Meet me half way
'Cause I ain't gonna take it, baby
Meet me half way
In the middle of the night

TUCKER: Now, that's a great Bonnie Raitt song on every level. "Meet Me Half Way" features a vocal equal in sexy slipperiness only to her own slide guitar playing. Its lyric is inherently feminist -- a demand that her mate put as much effort into the relationship as she does, while phrasing that demand not as a threat, but as hard-headed, hard-won common sense.

Throughout this album, Raitt sounds energized and open. She trusts Mitchell Froom and Chad Blake enough to let them muddy up and muffle her voice in this version of a Willy Dixon (ph) tune, and she ends up with some of her most urgent blues of her career.


RAITT, SINGING: I got a elevator man
In the heart of town
And when he's feeling right
He will carry you round and round

SINGERS: Round and round (unintelligible)
Round and round (unintelligible)

RAITT, SINGING: Baby, don't be chillin'
When I come to town
'Cause I'm just a country girl
Everybody trying to push poor me around

SINGERS: Round and round and...

TUCKER: The best thing about this collection is its feeling of spontaneity and self-amusement. It's rare that a well-crafted piece of music like this manages to come across so unfettered and free. Raitt even addresses this subject on a song she co-wrote with Paul Brady (ph) called "Blue for No Reason."


RAITT, SINGING: When I was a girl
Favorite thing in the whole wide world
Was to see a field
And run for no reason

And off I'd go
No one behind
On the Earth below
Just a patch of green
Green as the season

Don't ask why
Your feet just fly
Green and sky
Is all that you needed

Why ask why
I know that's true
The sky is blue
Blue for no reason

TUCKER: My guess is that Fundamental isn't going to match the commercial success that Raitt has had with her Don Was albums, mostly because radio programmers and lots of listeners probably think that by now, they know what they're going to get from a Bonnie Raitt record. In the heartless pop world, you're allowed one comeback, and Raitt, like Tina Turner, had hers, with "Nick of Time" in 1989.

I hope I'm wrong because the Raitt on this CD is someone making music like an eager rookie -- hungry for an audience that wants music as fundamental as this.

GROSS: Ken Tucker is critic at large for Entertainment Weekly. He reviewed Bonnie Raitt's Fundamental.

I'm Terry Gross.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Ken Tucker; Terry Gross, Philadelphia
High: Rock Critic Ken Tucker reviews Bonnie Raitt's latest album "Fundamental." Raitt has new record producers working with her. Instead of Don Was, Raitt is using Mitchell Froom and Chad Blake on "Fundamental." They are best known for their work with Suzanne Vega, Los Lobos and Richard Thompson.
Spec: Music Industry; Bonnie Raitt; Fundamental

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Fundamental
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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