Speech-writer for first lady quits after 1 1/2 years

Job made family life difficult, she says

September 09, 1999|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Christina Macy spent many nights sleeping on the little couch in her office and still more riding the early morning train to Washington for a job she adored. But after more than a year and a half as a top speech-writer for Hillary Rodham Clinton, she has decided to call it quits.

Macy, a former speech-writer for Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, left the domain that staffers call "Hillaryland" late last month, saying the long commute had exhausted her and the brutal hours made family life almost impossible.

"It was the most amazing job I've ever had and opened up a whole new world to me," said Macy, a 51-year-old mother of two who lives in Mount Washington and has a passion for public policy.

Macy's move comes as the first lady spends more time in New York in her prospective run for a Senate seat. Macy said she was not given additional work because of the Senate race and did not leave because of the campaign.

"Mrs. Clinton is an avid speaker, so [Macy] certainly had her hands full and did a great job," said Marsha Berry, the first lady's spokeswoman. "We will miss her very much."

Like many others who have worked for the first lady, Macy remains fiercely loyal to Mrs. Clinton and her agenda. Macy's husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch, has been close to the president since the two ran Sen. George McGovern's presidential campaign in Texas in 1972.

At the White House, one of Macy's most grueling responsibilities was to write speeches for all the first lady's foreign travel, which took her from small villages in Chile to the sand dunes of Morocco. Even so, those assignments -- in which Macy would sometimes barely sleep for three days -- remain among her favorites.

"I remember going to one small women's law clinic in Beijing," Macy said. "It was a three-story walk-up, and it was really hot, and there was no air conditioning and we were all cramped in this room. But you could tell how important Mrs. Clinton's presence was there.

"This one woman got up in tears and said, `You have no idea how important it is that you are here.' Her daughter wanted to be a lawyer, and she said Mrs. Clinton was a role model for her."

Now, Macy, who is interviewing for jobs with humanitarian organizations, is looking forward to a slightly slower pace. And she is hardly sad to say goodbye to the last train from Washington to Baltimore. She and other commuters dubbed it "The Train of Failure," because it symbolized a day that had gone on too long.

Even now, Macy feels some pangs of homesickness for the White House.

"It was peaceful to be there really late at night," she said. "I would walk over to the residence at 12 or 1 a.m. and walk through the Rose Garden when nobody's there, everybody's asleep. It's really kind of a nice feeling."

Pub Date: 9/09/99

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