Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Impressed by Senator Gillibrand this morning

I'm usually a cynic when it comes to politicians. Self serving, too slick for my taste, partisan and generally not trustworthy. The only exceptions I have met personally and really liked were Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

But this morning I met another one - Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Breakfast at the DLA Piper offices in East Palo Alto. 95 people - mostly lawyers - a sea of grey and navy (clothes that is, although there was plenty of grey hair too).

After the usual gracious introductions the Senator spoke about the issues she cares about and she struck a chord with me. She is smart and articulate (of course - she's elected and that takes both) but very real. No posturing, no endless policy wonking, short and precise answers. Quite different than the norm and (dare I confess it even to myself) more open than Hillary.

I so much appreciate the role Gillibrand played getting the movement started to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. When she joined the senate, replacing Hillary when she became Secretary of State, she found that the gay community had no real voice because their advocate Ted Kennedy was so ill. She spent time with military personnel who had been discharged, or who were still living the hell of living a lie, and decided to go for it and get the law - which both lacked integrity and reduced our military effectiveness - repealed. And succeeded much to my delight (I always thought it stank).

Though from New York, Senator Gillibrand's issues matter to silicon valley. Technology investment, R&D tax credits, immigration - all issues that impact employment - so it makes sense that she'd come stumping and raising money here. I was impressed and hope we'll see more of her.


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