Eleanor Clift

Formerly Newsweek's White House correspondent; Contributor to Newsweek magazine and the Daily Beast website; Regular panelist on the syndicated talk show, "The McLaughlin Group."

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Eleanor Clift is a contributor to Newsweek magazine and the Daily Beast web site. She writes about politics and policy in Washington, and the partisan clashes that are the result of divided government. She is currently assigned to the White » Read Full Bio


Eleanor Clift is a contributor to Newsweek magazine and the Daily Beast web site. She writes about politics and policy in Washington, and the partisan clashes that are the result of divided government. She is currently assigned to the White House where President Obama faces a difficult reelection. Clift has covered every presidential campaign since 1976 and brings her perspective to analyze the contest between a beleaguered incumbent and an opposition party torn between traditional economic conservatives and the upstart Tea Party.   


Clift is a regular panelist on the syndicated talk show, "The McLaughlin Group." She has appeared as herself in several movies, including "Dave," "Independence Day," "Murder at 1600," "Rising Sun," and the CBS series, "Murphy Brown."


Clift and her late husband, Tom Brazaitis, who was a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, wrote two books together, "War Without Bloodshed: The Art of Politics" (Scribner, 1996), and "Madam President: Shattering the Last Glass Ceiling (Scribner, 2000). Madam President is available in paperback (Routledge Press). Clift's book, "Founding Sisters," is about the passage of the 19th amendment giving women the vote (John Wiley & Sons, 2003). Her recent book, "Two Weeks of Life: A Memoir of Love, Death and Politics" (Basic Books, 2008) is about the loss of her husband together with an examination of how we deal with death in America. “Selecting a President,” written with Matthew Spieler (Thomas Dunne Books) will be available May 2012. 


Formerly Newsweek's White House correspondent, Clift also served as congressional and political correspondent for six years. She was a key member of the magazine's 1992 election team, following the campaign of Bill Clinton from the start to inauguration day. In June 1992 she was named Deputy Washington bureau chief.


As a reporter in Newsweek's Atlanta bureau, Clift covered Jimmy Carter's bid for the presidency. She followed Carter to Washington to become Newsweek's White House correspondent, a position she held until 1985. Clift began her career as a secretary to Newsweek's National Affairs editor in New York. She was one of the first women at the magazine to move from secretary to reporter.


Clift left Newsweek briefly in 1985 to serve as White House correspondent for The Los Angeles Times. She returned to Newsweek the following year to cover the Iran-Contra scandal, which embroiled President Reagan and tarnished his administration.  Clift has covered every presidential campaign since 1976, and was part of Newsweek's special project team following the 1984, 2000, 2004 and 2008 elections, each of which resulted in a book. The most recent, "A Long Time Coming,” written by Evan Thomas and based on the Newsweek team's reporting (Public Affairs, 2009) chronicles the history-making campaign of Barack Obama. 

Clift lives in Washington, D.C., where she is on the advisory council of the International Women's Media Foundation, the board of the Center for Politics and Journalism, and the Board of Governor’s of the National Hospice Foundation.


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Speaker Programs (Click on each program to view the description)

Two Weeks of Life, The Intersection of Medicine and Morality
Eleanor Clift watched her husband, journalist Tom Brazaitis, dying of cancer at home at the same time as she was commenting on the debate over Terri Schiavo, who was dying in a Florida hospice. The two passed away within a day of each other. Clift's latest book Two Weeks of Life, A Memoir of Love, Death, and Politics alternates between these two stories to provide a moving commentary on how we deal, or fail to deal, with dying in modern America.
President Obama, Can he recover the magic? After the midterm shellacking, what has Obama learned, and how will he retool his presidency? Is he a one-term president? Divided government, what are the prospects for bipartisanship? And how will the Republicans handle the rise of the Tea Party? Third party politics, Voters don't like either major party. Time for a real change?
Women and Politics
Hillary Clinton didn't win the presidency, dashing the hopes of a generation of women. From suffrage to sexism, Clift looks at the obstacles that remain and how to shatter the last glass ceiling. Also, examining what's ahead for Hillary Clinton, who's become the indispensable woman in the Obama administration.
Health care
Republicans campaigned on a promise to repeal health care reform. Clift can talk about the politics as well as offer a personal perspective on end of life care and the choices before us individually and as a society. Doctors can tell us what we can do; they can't tell us what we should do. ("Two Weeks of Life" is now also in paperback).
First Ladies
Michelle Obama fully understands the power of her platform, and she is using it to convey the priorities and values she shares with her husband. Her campaign against childhood obesity and the garden she planted on the South Lawn as a teaching tool for inner-city kids touch on important issues yet steer clear of controversy, which is how Obama, a Princeton and Harvard-educated lawyer, navigates the line between style and substance.
The shrinking role of the mainstream media and its impact on politics. Can newspapers survive? Does anybody under 30 give a hoot if they don't? Barack Obama won the presidency in part because he understood the new tools of communication and mobilized them to his advantage. He lost that connection when he became immersed in governing. His re-election hinges on his ability to get all those new voters he inspired in 2008 back to the polls in 2012. Clift talks personally about the changing media landscape now with the merger of Newsweek and the Daily Beast and new editorial direction of Tina Brown, an iconic editor of our age.


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