Mary Breslauer didn’t always want to be a politico. The New Jersey-born brainiac actually got her start in journalism, but eventually found herself working for the late Gerry Studds, a Congressman who found himself censured after having a consensual, legal sexual relationship with a congressional page.
Breslauer’s experience with Studds sent her on a collision course with American politics. Now a co-host for HRC’s The Agenda radio show, Breslauser’s spending her free time campaigning for Senator Hillary Clinton.
Below the journo-politico talks our editor through her evolution, discusses Studds and explains why Hillary should lead our country.
Andrew Belonsky: Hi, Mary! Are you having a nice day?
Mary Breslauer: Yeah. It’s been okay. It’s kind of a neutral day.
MB: I meant to go to the gym. I didn’t get to the gym. I was like, “It’s 4:30. You’re talking to Andrew. You’re not going to the gym.” But there’s always another day!
AB: Let’s hope so. Alright, we’re going to dive right into this. How did you get into politics?
MB: Well, I started in journalism in college: I was editor of my college newspaper. Whenever you spend any time in journalism, I think it by nature turns you into a political person – or, at least, a political junkie. It certainly did for me! And then I made the switch from journalism to what some call “the dark side.”
MB: One of my first jobs was press secretary in Gerry Studds’ 1984 reelection campaign immediately [after] his censure. So, that really was just a wonderful baptism by fire into politics! The campaign was completely unprecedented. No one had ever cared about that little Massachusetts district. Then we were flooded not just with national media, but international media.
AB: Were you recruited into that campaign? How did you end up getting involved?
MB: It’s funny. I ended living on Martha’s Vineyard for ten years in my twenties. I was a reporter and managing editor of The Vineyard Gazette, which is the weekly newspaper for the island. Gerry was our congressman, so I got to know him quite well. When the ’84 election came up, just after the censure – I had wanted to make the switch. It was actually my girlfriend at the time who said, “You should call Studds, because this is going to be a big race and he needs help.” So, I called him and within 24 hours I was his press secretary.
AB: How do you go into that situation? How do handle you scandal of that nature? I understand he didn’t do anything illegal, but it must have been a challenge.
MB: The challenge of it really was that reporters – unless they were local reporters – didn’t understand the unique relationship Gerry had with his constituents. Gerry immediately went after the censure and had town meetings throughout the district. He was available to people. Nobody held town meetings until Gerry Studds did. He did it many years before the censure ever happened, so people in the district really had an incredible relationship with him. In the end, he won the primary challenge, which was quite tough, and won the general resoundingly. And he was reelected and never challenged until he retired. Many voters attitudes were as if he were a member of the family. You might say, “Gee, I wish that never happened, but you’re one of us.”
AB: Is that happened with the Clintons? Obviously Bill and Hillary have been plagued by scandal in the past…
MB: You know, I think the Clintons – a lot of people are turned off by the scandal allegations. But unless you were a true Clinton hater, I think people just said, “Enough is enough”.
AB: Do you think that Hillary’s enemies are going to come out of the wood work to stall her administration with accusations? Is that a worry for you?
MB: It’s not a worry for me at all. That was their flu vaccine. I don’t know what else people could do. There were these two biographies of Clinton – one about six months ago – and everyone thought were going to cause all this trouble for Hillary, but the books didn’t do anything to Hillary because most people know so much about the Clintons – or think they know so much about the Clintons. It’s not like getting Tina Brown’s book on Diana. People feel like there’s a lot they don’t know about Princess Diana. Does anybody really think there’s a lot they don’t know about Hillary Clinton? I really don’t think so.
AB: Let’s go back a little to when you “crossed over to the dark side,” as you said. You are now both a political and a media personality. I want to discuss the idea of objectivity in journalism. Obviously there’s the Associated Press, but more and more journalists, newspapers and news organizations are – not political operatives, but are becoming more emotionally involved in campaigns and particular issues. What does that say to you about the evolution of media since you started back on Martha’s Vineyard?
MB: I think that’s a real interesting question. What’s more interesting about that – from your original premise – is that there are so many more voices: the internet, YouTube, podcasts, in addition to a huge cable network on television – that certainly didn’t exist when I started in journalism. There are more media people out there with a point of view or with a political slant, but I feel also as consumers there are so many more ways for us to get informed. I feel that it’s harder for people to know where to go. You can Google something and be inundated by ten different views. Yes, it’s true, but I’m a little less worried about it because I feel like most people – more and more people – have incredible access to a wealth of information. You don’t need a library card anymore.
AB: Speaking of your political work – you volunteered for LGBT outreach for the Kerry/Edwards campaign. What attracted you to that campaign?
MB: Well, I knew John Kerry because he was my Senator – and I wanted to help him. That’s very often how people find themselves getting deeply involved in campaigns on that kind of level. They go into it already having a relationship and a knowledge base of the candidate and with John Kerry I clearly did. He asked me to help him and it was kind of no brainer.
AB: You are now part of Hillary Clinton’s gay steering committee. Why are you supporting Hillary? What is it about Hillary Clinton that entices you?
MB: It’s a great time in America to be a Democrat. We have an outstanding field of candidates that you could put a piece of paper between in terms of their approaches LGBT issues. I feel incredibly happy and proud of that as a Democrat. What separates Clinton for me are a couple of things: number one, I really feel like she’s been there with us in some of our tougher moments. It was really her strategy and her headcount and her messaging that led to the defeat of the Federal Marriage Amendment in the Senate this last time. I very much want somebody who on day one is going to be able to go in there and say, “I want this to happen.”
MB: The other thing about the Clintons – and, believe me, no one remembers the Clinton years in terms of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA more than I do – but we were included. We have always been included. When you look at the LGBT community that they’ve assembled, it’s by far the biggests and most diverse in terms of membership of our community. There’s no question in my mind that Hillary Clinton will include our community – not just on our issues, but recognizes that there’s a wealth of talent and commitment in the community to help her administration solve an endless series of challenges and opportunities.
AB: So Bill Clinton’s presidency in some ways influences your support of Hillary?
MB: It does in the sense that the Clintons, going back to those days – as First Lady she marched in New York’s gay pride parade – they had a real intimate connection with this community. The policies that now we’re fighting to overturn, including Senator Clinton, happened in a very different political time. There were many, many members of our community who were part of that administration on all levels. And that’s important to me.
AB: Does the fact that she’s a woman play any role in your Clinton support?
MB: You know, it’s meaningful to me, Andrew, it really is. Of course it is. It’s really meaningful to me that we would have a – not just a woman candidate, but someone who could indeed become president in my lifetime. I’m really moved by that.
It took President Clinton to get the media to stop the saint coronation of Obama and get his differences out there for voters to make educated decisions as to who is best to lead this country when the media failed to do their job. Its ok for blacks to allow the unbiased untruthful attacks against a WHITE FEMALE Senator/two time First lady, but donâ€™t dare say anything truths about the 1/2 black candidate who changes with each speech that is written for him. Take a look at the SC coverage, basically the media has told the country obama is 1/2 black, voters in SC are black so they will support him. Then it appears factual that black voters are basing their decision on skin color? But Obama camp isnâ€™t keeping race card alive. Have you heard anything Michelle Obama has said, She is completely a racist! KEEP UP THE EXCELLENT WORK PRESIDENT CLINTON, EDUCATED VOTERS APPRECIATE IT
Obama’s spiritual adviser, J Wright gave Trumpeter Award to a man it said “truly epitomized greatness. Louis Farrakhan. maybe for Wright and some others, Farrakhan “epitomized greatness.” For Americans, Farrakhan epitomizes racism, particularly in the form of anti-Semitism. Over the years, he has compiled an awesome record of offensive statements, even denigrating the Holocaust by falsely attributing it to Jewish cooperation with Hitler “They helped him get the Third Reich on the road.” His history is a rancid stew of lies. Any praise of Farrakhan heightens the prestige of the leader of the Nation of Islam. His anti-Semitism and particularly his false insistence that Jews have played an inordinate role in victimizing African Americans.
Farrakhan’s dream has vilified whites and singled out Jews to blame for crimes large and small, either committed by others as well or not at all. (A dominant role in the slave trade, for instance.) He has talked of Jewish conspiracies to set a media line for the whole nation. He has reviled Jews in a manner that brings Hitler to mind. And yet Wright heaped praise on Farrakhan. According to Trumpet, he applauded his “depth of analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation.” He praised “his integrity and honesty.” He called him “an unforgettable force, a catalyst for change and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and his purpose.” These are the words of a man who prayed with Obama just before the Illinois senator announced his run for the presidency. Will he pray with him just before his inaugural?
The New York Times recently reported on Obama’s penchant while serving in the Illinois legislature for merely voting “present” when faced with some tough issues. Farrakhan, in a strictly political sense, may be a tough issue for him. This time, though, “present” will not do.
It’s also meaningful that a black candidate could be President. Which dream is stronger ? MLK’s or Susan B. Anthony’s ? Women usually back down to a strong male. It’s their nature to preserve peace.
How can Hillary get Bill out of the picture. He’s a reminder of the past no one wants to repeat.
Bill needs to stay right where he is with his eloquent hot self. Thank you very much.
Due to Bill as usual, it will be a loss for women. The public remembers how he wants women on their knees in front of him.
Anyway, we should be fighting for GLBT rights first over womens rights. Frankly I don’t like how GLBT has changed to LGBT. Due to Hilary Rosen and the woman in the above interview., or was it Elizabeth Burke? Gays started the GLBT movement, we should be first in the alphabet soup.
According to the link below Hilary Clinton should be in jail! She is George Bush in female form! That women is evil!
Charley-they are one and the same. I guess you don’t know about Stonewall or you wouldn’t make ignorant comments like that.
You’re darn right…people are turned off by the Clinton scandals. It’s amazing to watch the Clinton, Inc. slime machine in action. Obama didn’t get the memo about rolling over and playing dead for Hil.
Stonewall was a gay bar with drag queens. No lesbians. They were given their momentum to protest from words that were written in the first gay magazine in New York, founded by my friend Jack Nichols, a writer and early gay activist who campaigned publicly for gay rights nearly a decade before the Stonewall riots of 1969.
Get your eyes out of Bill Clinton’s crotch and learn GLBT history.
I love the feminists, but let’s get it right. Gay rights were started by men. Intellectual Jewish women came later, Steinem, Betty Friedan, ect. It was in reaction to Norman Mailer and were stimulated by the energy displayed in the gay rights movement, or vice versa. The Village Voice was key.
So, the Clinton Dynasty has been there for LGBT people… when Bill signed DOMA? During the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell debacle?
The Clintons have never come across a civil rights issue for gay people they weren’t delighted to sell out. Fuck them.
Charley there were lesbians involved in the riots and women were involved in the Mattachine Society in the 1950’s. Stop the sexism it does not serve our community.
I realize lesbians were important in the Mattachine Society, but let’s not rewrite history. I hung out at the gay village bars in 1952 when I was 18. I know the environment. Lesbians were pretty much closeted except in the mixed bohemian bars on McDougal Street.
Speaking of Bill Clinton:
It is opined that Bill Clinton committed racist hate crimes, and I am not free to say anything further about it.
Respectfully Submitted by Andrew Y. Wang, J.D. Candidate
B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993
(I can type 90 words per minute, and there are probably thousands of copies on the Internet indicating the content of this post. Moreover, there are innumerable copies in very many countries around the world.)
“If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memories so they never got stale and faded.” Off the top of my head—it came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.
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