Thursday, January 8, 2009

NYT Mag memorializes Stephanie Tubbs Jones

The New York Times Magazine looked back on Stephanie Tubbs Jones' career in its year-end issue, "The Lives They Lived." Matt Bai's elegant obituary captures aspects of Cleveland's late congresswoman that we didn't often see.

After her husband died, Tubbs Jones poured herself into friendships with other congresspeople, including Florida's Kendrick Meek and New York's Yvette Clarke — and Hillary Clinton. Tubbs Jones and Clinton bonded over a concern for voting rights, forging a loyalty that led the congresswoman to campaign for Clinton in her presidential run, despite Barack Obama's popularity in her district. (I wrote about Tubbs Jones' pledge to Clinton and her 2001 support of mayoral candidate Raymond Pierce, controversial for an opposite reason, in our October issue.)

Bai's article mentions some of Tubbs Jones' flaws — her "penchant for jetting off to exotic lands on privately financed junkets," a backhanded comment she made about Obama. But mostly, he illuminates her loyalty to friends and her sense of humor. The piece also led me to this great clip from Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," in which Stephen Colbert, playing off Tubbs Jones' judicial experience, gets her to play-act the title role on an imaginary TV show, "Judge Tubbs."

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