“Amen Sister”: Gillibrand Declares “The Lehman Sisters” Might Have Prevented 2008 Financial Collapse

440px-Kirsten_Gillibrand,_official_portrait,_112th_CongressNew York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told a supportive audience at the progressive Center for American Progress Ideas Festival that gender alone could make a difference in finance crises: “If it wasn’t Lehman Brothers but Lehman Sisters, we might not have had the financial collapse.”  The problem, critics have noted, is that Lehman Brothers had a female CFO during the financial crisis.  The bigger problem is how gender is often presented as a de facto credential by politicians and activists without acknowledging that it would also be de facto discrimination if used in this fashion.  It is an interesting story coming on the heels of the story out of the University of Akron where a professor declared female students would be automatically given higher scores. Gillibrand’s comment comes when she is pushing for new sexual harassment legislation in Congress.

Gillibrand insisted that “all these different life experiences” including those of women of color bring “this host of experiences that are different that will make not only the problem-solving better, because it will identify different problems, but then it will identify different solutions.”  There is no question that life experiences can give leaders different insights and ideas.  However, the sweeping claim that gender could make some business people superior to others in areas like finance raise troubling reminders of our long history of sexism and discrimination.  Is the suggestion that financial leaders should be selected in part due to their gender?  If so, we have struggled to end a long history of such assumptions.

That point was missed by fellow former Hillary Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri who could be heard explaining “Amen, sister.”  Palmieri’s involvement was interesting since she was the recipient of the improperly released debate questions from Donna Brazile for Hillary Clinton.  Brazile denied that she sent the information to Palmieri for months (and there was no disclosure of Palmieri to the contrary during the campaign). It only came out later that Palmieri did indeed receive the information.  That was a female campaign aide who received material from a female commentator and DNC official working on behalf of a female candidate. It resulted in a long-simmering scandal of favoritism and false denials.  Gender did not seem give added insight during that controversy.

Gillbrand’s comment is not original. In 2010, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde said “if Lehman Brothers had been ‘Lehman Sisters,’ today’s economic crisis clearly would look quite different.” Notably, Lagarde was found guilty a few years ago (though not hit with penalties) for her role in the questionable €403 million arbitration deal in favor of businessman Bernard Tapie.  That must have been the result of Tapie’s gender.

Just recently, Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, was charged with “massive fraud” after being celebrated as the model of women in the workplace.  Does that mean women should not be in the workplace or in business leadership? Of course not. The fact that she is a women had no bearing on her allegedly fraudulent practices any more than being a women gave her an inherent superiority as a CEO.

The concern is that leaders are increasingly pitching notions that gender can make you a better leader in various fields — a position that was opposed through the 1970s in the long struggle against sexual discrimination.  Back then, it was men saying “Amen” to claims that men were inherently better suited to deal with government or business or other challenges.  Men often insisted that the male gender bestowed greater toughness, understanding, and competitiveness in leaders.  To suggest that a female might have avoided a financial crisis appeals to the same notions of inherent gender superiority or suitability that plagued our nation for far too long in our history.

What do you think?

126 thoughts on ““Amen Sister”: Gillibrand Declares “The Lehman Sisters” Might Have Prevented 2008 Financial Collapse”

  1. I think it’s tragic that we have these politicians making such assertions with no basis whatsoever in fact, yet they talk about these like they have all the evidence in the world to support their claims. And I find these complaints to be stated by politicians of all stripes. But when the crowd applauds this type of assertion, I wonder whether they are rabid partisans or completely misinformed sycophants.

    Additionally, I haven’t seen anything exceptional in the career of Sen. Gillebrand that makes her worthy enough to be considered a future candidate for President of the United States. At least, in this century.

    1. Additionally, I haven’t seen anything exceptional in the career of Sen. Gillebrand that makes her worthy enough to be considered a future candidate for President of the United States. At least, in this century.

      Yep. Too young. Zero executive experience. Legal career at least partly a function of political connections. Not a known maven in any area of public policy. (Well, she knows a great deal about mass tort liability and about the legal rubrics of crooked housing subsidies, so there’s that). No leadership position held during her years in Congress. A weakness for silly and ill-considered statements (for which she doesn’t get nailed by the media). Smart, but has an academic history characterized by an avoidance of quantitative methods.

  2. Does at mean female CEO could prevent lenders from selling interest-only loans, press competing ratings agencies to offend clients by describing the mortgage-backed securities as junk bonds_and_keep traders from buying up said bonds when they were profiting handsomely from the trade because they have “different life experiences” and can somehow “identify different solutions”?

    1. Independent Bob – Hillary is still not President? I would have thought they would have impeached both Trump and Pence by now and installed Hillary in his place. Trump must be hard to bring down.

  3. Maybe if Broski Richard Clarke, or some other male had been Secretary of State and not Sister Rice we wouldn’t have ignored Bin Laden attack imminent warning.

  4. ‘Black Mark in Our History’: Six Democrats Join GOP to Confirm Torturer Gina Haspel as CIA Chief

    “This was never just about Gina Haspel. This is about a nation that claims constantly to be exceptional and morally superior showing the world in clear terms that it supports torture and will never hold its own accountable.”

    byJake Johnson, staff writer


    “This confirmation suggests we have learned nothing from a decade of shameful policies that stripped away human dignity and freedom and undermined the international rule of law.”

    —Daphne Eviatar, Amnesty International

    1. Anonymous, your message really touched me. I have been crying my eyes out for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded. This was a truly heinous act. Mohammed did not deserve any such punishment and there was no point in trying to extract information out of him. And besides, Mohammed’s only crime was that he was one of the principal players in the 911 attacks that killed more than 3,000 Americans. Those deaths of Americans, while tragic, were necessary because of the US’s colonialist policies that continue to subjugate the rights of the poor Palestinians, who take their orders from Hamas, which has unjustly been called a terrorist organization, when it is really a humane organization of freedom fighters who are only trying to get rid of Jews and Christians who refuse to kneel before Islam and who insist on engaging in various enterprises to improve science and medicine to help mankind and other perfidious acts. I applaud Amnesty International for its support of Islamic freedom fighters everywhere and its attacks on the American and Israeli colonialists. Please say a prayer for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tonight. He was a hero and should have received a Nobel Peace Prize.

      1. http://gallery.mailchimp.com/39e79512d5d2a5ec157ac81f4/files/4667fd75-bc76-43c7-9c8f-f91ebd6e8134/Military_Letter_To_Trump.pdf

        January 6, 2017

        Donald J. Trump
        President-elect of the United States of America Trump Tower
        735 5th Avenue
        New York, NY 10022

        Dear President-Elect Trump,

        We are a group of 176 retired flag officers from all branches of the United States military. We have over six thousand years of combined experience in commanding and leading American men and women in war and in peace, and believe strongly in the values and ideals that our country holds dear. We know from experience that U.S. national security policies are most effective when they uphold those ideals.

        For these reasons, we are concerned about statements made during the campaign about the use of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. The use of waterboarding or any so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” is unlawful under domestic and international law. Opposition to torture has been strong and bi-partisan since the founding of our republic through the administration of President Ronald Reagan to this very day. This was reinforced last year when the Congress passed the McCain-Feinstein anti-torture law on an overwhelmingly bi-partisan basis.

        Torture is unnecessary. Based on our experience—and that of our nation’s top interrogators, backed by the latest science—we know that lawful, rapport-based interrogation techniques are the most effective way to elicit actionable intelligence.

        Torture is also counterproductive because it undermines our national security. It increases the risks to our troops, hinders cooperation with allies, alienates populations whose support the United States needs in the struggle against terrorism, and provides a propaganda tool for extremists who wish to do us harm.

        Most importantly, torture violates our core values as a nation. Our greatest strength is our commitment to the rule of law and to the principles embedded in our Constitution. Our servicemen and women need to know that our leaders do not condone torture or detainee abuse of any kind.

        We look forward to working with you in the future on this and any other issue as you serve our great country.


        Refer to letter to see the names of the signers.

          1. Where were they in 2001?

            Planning a cushy career serving mostly in the rear areas.

            Of what validity is there ‘opinion’ 17 years later from their cush offices?

            Once a REMF always a REMF.

        1. Ohhhh, so a bunch of retired military staff opposes waterboarding. So, your implied concept here is that waterboarding must be bad because retired military staff say so.

          Okay. Then using that “logic” you must support President Trump! Why? For the very same “rationale” that you espouse. Eighty-eight retired military leaders endorsed Donald Trump for President, including four four-star generals and 14 three-star flag officers, according to the campaign, as acknowledge by the leftist media outlet CNN:
          Moreover, since the list supporting Donald Trump includes four four-star generals and your list does not, my list carries even more authority of righteousness using your very own “logic.”

          So while you’re crying your eyes out for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, you should also be supporting President Donald Trump 100%. Keep America Great!

          1. Good pont and reference. Much more effective than “Anonymous”

            1. Let’s see the list of questions and answers that these interrogations produced.
              The assumption that these techniques produced actual intelligence that saved lives has only one person’s viewpoint and I’m not so sure taking the CIA’s word for it is convinciong enough.
              And you sir don’t have the last word on what makes an officer.

        2. There are two classes of officers, commissioned. The front line combat types and the REMFs. Where were all these ‘officers’ who signed that letter in 2017 in the months after 2001 and 9/11. But sixteen years later they suddenly gain credibilty? None of them were flag officers sixteen years ago. and anonnymously claiming others would have signed is probably true. Just check the eligible to be promoted list. You’ll find them under Rear Echelon Mother (feathers) The most contemptible part of the military.

          Now tell me how many were flag officers in 2001 when the entire nations’s attitude was “We don’t care what has to be done just protect us.’ And how many signed letters pointing that out to the those who made that particular technique legal and to the public rthat supported ‘we don’t care just protect us.’

          I had the privilege of being one of the first group to go through the first SERE training in the military. Eglin AFB, Florida using the same training site used by the Son Tay Raiders Boarding was not brought up at that time but other techniques were. Later some of us got to experience the real thing. It does work and is the most humane method I know of as it is fast and effective.

          I have to wonder if a nation that was was crying out ‘ do whatever but protect us’ and so easily forgot their ‘ethics’ back then and so self righteously regain them now were worth the effort. But I always fall back on one truth

          We never served those people. In our oath of office the only thing mentioned is The Constitution. And only The Constitution…. nothing else.

  5. Ben Franklin, 1789, we gave you “a republic, if you can keep it.”

    Ben Franklin, 2018, we gave you “a republic, if you can take it back.”

    Franklin’s was a restricted-vote republic with the qualifications to vote being: Male, European, 21 with 50

    lbs. Sterling or 50 acres.

    Franklin was brilliant. Franklin was correct. Franklin was proof. Franklin was axiomatic.

    Nothing has changed.

    1. Voting qualifications: Male, European, 21 and a person of substantial property.

      George, you are certifiably insane.

      1. George loves quoting Hamilton also, which would seem to present a conundrum to George’s perspective.

        What can one do against George’s cherry-picked quotes?

        1. Enjoy a good laugh, as when George blesses us with his favorite Youtube whacky conspiracy theories.

      2. Prior to the Constitution and the the Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence such restrictions were the norm and worse One set of restrictions banned voting completely stating only The King and his appointed officers could have such powers.

        Back then the very idea of independent thinking, reasoning self governing citizens replacing the divine right of Kings with ‘citizens’ was unknown. Takes a while to effect change. Women voting? Blacks Voting? Unheard of….

        Even today we have one group championing a return to the conditions listed on the final page of the Declaration. Those who think otherwise truly are unfit to hold the franchise and are to make a fine point the exact reason our oath office is to the Constitution and not to ‘people.’ Such as yourself.

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