Every once in a while, folks ask questions like, "Who do you most admire?" That's always a difficult question for me because, other than very close family members and a few friends, I'm not big on hero worship and I generally try NOT to find out anything about public figures because inevitably, I wind up disappointed. Frankly, the two people I admired most were my parents--they were two of the few people who didn't disappoint upon closer inspection. They weren't perfect, but they worked hard and had both personal integrity and intelligence.
However, in thinking about public figures, there are four women I find interesting and worthy of note for 4 completely different reasons.
Maureen Bunyan, the woman I'd like for a friend
I grew up in the Washington, DC, area, so the "local" news was more-or-less what others would consider national news. As a young adult, I didn't care much for the news, but every once in a while, I would watch. After a while, I began to realize how "bent" most news folks were. My first inkling came after listening to one of our President's address the nation, and subsequently listening to one of the famous national "big network" newscasters talk about the speech. The newscaster babbled on, trashing the President and claiming the President had said thus and such when the reality was, the President never even mentioned the subject. I actually looked up a transcript of the President's speech to make sure, because I thought maybe I had spaced out and missed what the newscaster caught. Not so. Obviously, the newscaster had an ax to grind and a political orientation that prevented him from being objective when reporting the news. I won't mention names because...well...what's the point?
However, I subsequently listened to Bunyan's report. I found her to be one of the few newscasters who seemed to work on being objective and accurate. She reported what had been said, no more, no less. So I started watching her and the more I watched her, the more I felt she was a woman of integrity and intelligence. I don't know what her political orientation is or was at that time, but I found that whenever I checked the actual facts, that's what she reported, unlike so many of the national newscasters who feel they have to turn the news into a propaganda opportunity.
The other aspect about her public persona that I always appreciated was the sense of warmth and humor she radiated. Sure, I don't know her, or anything about her, but I felt I could trust her. In fact, she is one of the few public folks I'd like to meet and if I'm lucky, call my friend.
Grace Kelly, the most beautiful woman...ever
Not much to say about this pick, except it is my personal opinion that she is perhaps the most beautiful woman, past or present, who has ever lived. Would I like to have plastic surgery to look like her? Actually, no. I am who I am and if I changed that, I wouldn't be me. But that doesn't change my opinion about Grace Kelly. Gorgeous and classy. I will never forget her in "Dial M for Murder" or "The Rear Window".
Jeane Kirkpatrick, the most compelling, intelligent woman...ever
I've always liked being around intelligent people, particularly those who have a sense of humor. Not that I've ever met Jeane Kirkpatrick, but I sure would have liked to. I loved listening to her talk those few times I managed to catch her on the news or other television interview--she could talk rings around anyone interviewing her and do so with style, intelligence and humor. I wish there were more truly exceptional women like her. We could really use them today. Despite the current talk and TV shows about "geeks," folks in the U.S. really don't seem to appreciate intelligence and I've never understood that. The current fascination with geeks isn't appreciate of intelligence--it's making fun of intelligence. Too bad, really.
Condoleezza Rice, the person who should be president, but is probably too smart to run
Will someone please convince her to run for office? President, that is. I'd vote for her in a heartbeat. Like Ms. Bunyan, Ms. Rice seems to be a person of integrity. Like Ms. Kirkpatrick, Ms. Rice is intelligent, compelling, and best of all, has a sense of humor. She also has style and that thing known as "class." I would love to be able to say our President is Consoleezza Rice. How cool would that be? You really have to admire someone who can be calm and witty under fire and Ms. Rice can do so with aplomb.
Well, those are four of the people I most admire, outside of my family and friends. Sadly, I never had the chance to meet any of them. The only "famous" folks I've ever met in real life are Isaac Asimov and Eleanor Clift ("The Mclaughlin Group"). I met Ms. Clift at National Airport in DC way back when. She asked me to watch her luggage for her--a fact that tells you how many years ago that was. Don't know why she picked me, but I dutifully watched it for her. Then a few years later, at historic Williamsburg, I met Isaac Asimov, the writer, while we were walking around the gardens at the back of the Governor's palace. I actually shook his hand and babbled something inane about having read every book he had ever written. True as it was, I regret I didn't have something a bit more intelligent to say.
That's it, then. Brilliant women aren't as rare as you might imagine, as these four show you. And lastly, I'll never, ever forget a radio interview I heard once, back in the 80's. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the woman being interviewed, but she was billed as the most intelligent person in the world at that time. In the middle of the interview, the interviewer commented that it must have been difficult for the woman to get dates because men would be intimidated by her intelligence. Her reply said it all.
She laughed and said, "It's not difficult at all. Most men think I'm just as dumb as every other woman they've ever met."
Food for thought.