Julia Baird

Stories by Julia Baird

  • Sarah Palin and Women Voters

    Odd, yes, but there we are. Still, history suggests issues of policy will ultimately trump the politics of identity.
  • Is Hillary the New Thatcher?

    Margaret Thatcher was the kind of woman who made men's toes curl. Her savage intelligence, command of policy and what François Mitterrand called "the mouth of Marilyn Monroe and the eyes of Caligula" both terrified and intrigued them. And she loved it. The woman who was prime minister of Britain from 1979 to 1990 declared she owed nothing to "women's lib" and surrounded herself with men—appointing only one woman to her cabinet.Today she is remembered as a resolute, tough-minded leader who was fond of tanks and relished a fight. Hillary Clinton, commentators cry, asks to be treated more gently because she is a woman. Thatcher didn't have to.What we forget is how happily Thatcher exploited stereotypes when it was convenient to do so. When she campaigned for the leadership of her party in 1976, she was so eager to counter her image as an upper-crust Tory in pearls that she portrayed herself as a regular, devoted housewife. She was photographed doing the washing up, tucking her twins...
  • I Am Woman, Hear Me Snore

    In a new book, 30 female writers critique Hillary Clinton. Again. And again. And still miss the point.
  • BeliefWatch: Paris Hilton Finds God

    Three weeks ago, while preparing to go to jail, Paris Hilton sauntered out her front door with a Bible tucked under her arm—facing outward so the cover would be clearly visible. So it wasn't a shock that it took just three days in prison before Hilton found God. She told Barbara Walters that she had "become more spiritual" and that God had given her a second chance.There's a long tradition of jailhouse conversions; many are temporary, aimed at gaining leniency from judges, while others seem genuine. Malcolm X discovered Islam while in a Massachusetts state prison. Oklahoma-bombing conspirator Terry Nichols claimed to have worn out four Bibles during his trial, and serial killer David Berkowitz—Son of Sam—converted from Judaism after an inmate told him Jesus Christ loved him and wanted to forgive him. Chuck Colson, special counsel to President Richard Nixon, once described as the "evil genius of an evil administration," was facing arrest over Watergate charges when he read C. S....
  • Royal Visit: Queen Elizabeth in America

    On Feb. 6, 1952, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was distraught when he heard King George VI had died. His secretary, John Colville, tried to console him by assuring him he would get on well with the new queen, Elizabeth II: "But all he could say was that he didn't know her, and that she was only a child." She was 25 at the time. A year later, a royal aide confided that Churchill was so fond of her he could "scarcely speak of her without tears coming into his eyes."The rapport between Churchill and his queen was remarkable—she a serious young woman, known for her beauty, wit and love of dancing, he a great orator and war leader who delighted in schooling his monarch in the peculiar ways of British politics. Their meetings often lasted long past their customary half-hour appointment. When he notified her of his intention to resign in 1955, Churchill was told, through the queen's secretary, that "she would especially miss the weekly audiences which she had found so...