I kept a copy of the Sept. 21 profile of Sen. Kay Hagan to compare with Sept. 28’s profile of House Speaker Thom Tillis.
In Hagan’s profile, you pointedly implied that she owes her position in the U.S. Senate to receiving considerable help, both political and financial, from her former mentor, Gov. Jim Hunt, and family members. In contrast, Tillis’ profile reads like the rags-to-riches story of a self-made man who achieved his success through nothing more than perseverance and universal recognition of his innate political talents. A relatively new legislator who began his political career in the General Assembly “relegated to the back row of the House” does not become speaker in just four years without help. Who were the speaker’s mentors? Did personal wealth play any role?
In her bestseller “Lean In,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg notes that the typical media narrative of a woman who succeeds in a field dominated by men focuses on external factors, such as the assistance she received from (usually) male colleagues or family members. In stark contrast, a man who climbs the ranks in the same field is hailed as a capable “natural leader” whose charisma and exceptional qualities earned him his position.
As a woman holding a highly respected office because she convinced North Carolinians from all over the state of her own merits, Hagan deserved more respect from The N&O.