The woman who will one day become the first female president of the United States can learn a lot from Hillary Clinton, says “Dear Madam President” author Jennifer Palmieri.
Palmieri, who worked in the Bill Clinton and Obama White Houses before becoming the communications director on Hillary Clinton’s campaign, talked with Recode’s Kara Swisher on the latest episode of Recode Decode. She said part of Clinton’s ultimate defeat in 2016 can be traced to a widespread, nebulous feeling that she dubs TSAHIJDL, short for “There’s Something About Her I Just Don’t Like.” But like other women in politics before her, Palmieri said, Clinton was too quick to write herself off.
“She didn’t think her story mattered,” Palmieri said. “She was like, ‘President Obama’s story has meaning for the American people, so did my husband’s, but mine didn’t.’ And I think that’s because we like our presidents’ lives to tell the story of America and the American dream, and that just hasn’t existed for women.”
On its face, Barack Obama’s rise suggested that America was coming to terms with the centuries-long stain of slavery — but even today, women have had the right to vote for less than 100 years. Female politicians in general, and Hillary Clinton specifically, bucked against historically accepted roles for women, Palmieri explained.
“Women hold themselves back because they don’t think their perspective matters,” she said. “I’m here to tell you that you’re not just robbing yourself when you do that, you’re robbing all of us. Women need to understand that if you don’t look like everybody else in the room, your perspective matters more, not less.”
On the new podcast, Palmieri also talked about what Donald Trump has done right, from the perspective of a communications director: He “drives the news cycle like nobody’s business,” engages directly and “calls BS on some conventions that honestly needed to hear that.” And she offered some advice for the women who will follow in Clinton’s footsteps and, as the subtitle of “Dear Madam President” says, “Rule the World.”
“Don’t listen to the second conversation that happens in your head, where you’re trying to decide whether or not you can justify what you believe,” Palmieri said. “Say what you believe.”
And given the speed of news on cable channels and Facebook, she noted, it’s no longer acceptable for a political candidate to avoid commenting on incoming attacks from her or his opponents.
“Even as recently as during Obama, there were a lot of things you could ignore and let go, because if you lifted it up and responded to them, you were going to draw more attention to the attack,” Palmieri said. “We would err on holding back and restraining. And now I think you have to respond, right away. At a minimum, you need to give your supporters — ‘I don’t know, maybe it’s true what they said!’ — so you’ve got to tell people what they need to know.”
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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.