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VALERIE SCHULTZ: Thanks for role models, Mr. President

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Columnist Valerie Schultz

Finally: something for which I am grateful to the president of the United States. On the way to getting himself impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, he has given us the enduring gift of excellent female role models. Thank you, Mr. President, for the chance to get to know some women we might not have heard of had this been a law-abiding administration.

Thanks to this president’s shadiness, we have been lavished with a wealth of women who have held their own while speaking truth to power. In this holiday season, let me elaborate on my gratitude for some stellar examples of principled behavior that we all can emulate in our daily lives.

Marie Yovanovitch: We might never have made the acquaintance of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine if the president hadn’t fired her. Yovanovitch’s sworn testimony in the House of Representatives impeachment hearings gave me a whole new respect for the usually nameless career diplomats who represent us abroad. She testified that she was marked as an impediment to the presidential scheme to embroil Ukrainian officials in our 2020 election in exchange for the release of Ukraine’s much-needed foreign aid funding. Although she was ousted, Yovanovitch showed herself to be a patriotic civil servant who has put the United States first throughout her foreign service career. We should all be such committed and courageous citizens.

Fiona Hill: The second formidable woman we came to know through the impeachment hearings is the former top presidential adviser on Russia. Hill testified about her understanding of the aforementioned oddball plot to ensnare Ukrainian involvement in the upcoming U.S. election. Her proximity to former national security adviser John Bolton and other key figures in the administration made her a compelling witness, as well as a study in backbone. Hill’s steady demeanor modeled how to stay cool and assert one’s knowledge and intelligence in the face of spineless bullying.

Nancy Pelosi: Although Speaker Pelosi has been on the political scene for many years, the only female speaker of the house (so far) has demonstrated skillful management and ethical leadership during this historic time. While facilitating the passage of nearly 400 bills in the House, she has cogently invoked the vision and writings of the Founding Fathers while overseeing this president’s impeachment. “The times have found us,” she said, quoting Thomas Paine, and Pelosi is doing her duty to the country in confronting exactly the kind of malfeasant president the writers of the Constitution feared when they included the power to impeach in Article I.

Christine Blasey Ford: Imagine you had a traumatic experience in high school at the hands of an aggressive boy. Actually, most of us women don’t need to imagine such an event, as we have experienced it firsthand. Now imagine that the boy you remember with trepidation has been nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by the current president. Would you be brave enough to speak out? Christine Blasey Ford was, and did so at great personal expense. Although she knew that her memories would probably be dismissed, she sacrificed her anonymity and safety in order to do the right thing. Her act of heroism prompted a national discussion on sexual assault. It also exposed her and her family to months of death threats.

The millions of women who march every January: As I’ve walked in the three Women’s Marches since 2017, I have been heartened by the millions of us regular folks around the world who put aside our daily lives and gather in the streets to show solidarity for the civil rights of every person and for the rule of law. So many causes are represented in the Women’s March, but the overall theme of the signs I’ve seen and the chants I’ve heard while marching is justice and compassion for all: No one is greater than anyone else, and no one should be left behind. By working for the common good, we can create a better, safer, fairer, holier world. Next march: Jan. 18. As a new century’s Roaring Twenties begin, you will hear us roar.

Again, I thank you kindly, Mr. President. While you have not been adept at furthering human rights or obeying the law, you have given us the opportunity to follow many women of intelligence, perseverance, patriotism, and grit. Thanks also for proving beyond doubt that the country is ready for a woman to occupy the Oval Office.

Email contributing columnist Valerie Schultz at vschultz22@gmail.com; the views expressed here are her own.

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