The Women of 2009
We pick the best in pop, politics and more
-Kathryn H. Cusimano
Michelle Obama - Less intimidating than Hillary Clinton, more sophisticated than Laura Bush, the First Lady has projected a likable, approachable image during her husband’s first year in the White House. Whether she’s speaking before the International Olympic Committee or making sure daughters Sasha and Malia clean their rooms , Michelle seems like the kind of woman you’d be happy to have either as a super-efficient co-worker –or a cookie-maker at the local school fair. Plus, she wears fabulous dresses and has super-toned arms.
Sonia Sotomayor – Although the first Hispanic woman on the Supreme Court went through a politically charged confirmation process in the U.S. Senate, every lawmaker would agree that her story is impressive and inspiring. Raised in a New York City housing project, Sotomayor went on to Princeton and law school at Yale. Yet one of her most controversial remarks showed she has never forgotten her roots: She once said that “a wise Latina woman… would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male…” Republicans were outraged, Democrats played it down, and supporters bought T shirts that said (what else?) “Wise Latina Woman.”
Sarah Palin - Love her or hate her (and there are millions of people on each side of that issue), the ex-governor of Alaska is a natural crowd-pleaser who hasn’t let last year’s failed GOP presidential campaign stand in her way. Her pull-no-punches book Going Rogue has sold more than one million copies; she’s told Oprah Winfrey that she won’t rule out a run for the White House in 2012. And although comedian Tina Fey, whose killer Palin impressions won her an Emmy, has said she hopes she’ll never have to imitate Palin again, we have two words for Tina: Start rehearsing.
Hillary Clinton – The Secretary of State, and former Senator and First Lady, got a nice holiday present this week when she placed first in an annual USA Today/Gallup poll on the world’s most admired women. Not that it’s anything new to her: for the past 17 years, Hillary has placed first or second in the poll. And right behind her? Sarah Palin, with 15 percent of the vote, versus Hillary’s 16 percent.
Lady Gaga - She reminds some observers of Madonna (the nonstop costume changes, the pounding dance-floor songs), but Lady Gaga has her own distinct identity: Her stage performance includes thoughtful acoustic numbers as well as bouncy mega-hits like Bad Romance. The product of an exclusive New York City girls’ school, Gaga (born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta), also designs her own clothes –if that’s the right word for a full-body metal covering that looks like a birdcage. But her quirky appearance hasn’t stopped her from being a global star: Her most recent CD, The Fame, sold 5.8 million copies worldwide.