Inside the Numbers

If it’s conventional political analysis you’re looking for, be advised that you might want to skip this week’s column.

About the end of 2006, with so many tasks still undone and life’s clock ticking ever faster, I made a decision. Not a gimmicky one, or one meant as a quick fix for everything wrong in my life. I decided I would give up trying to control everything, even as I keep on pushing to meet the many goals and tasks and challenges I’ve set for myself. Now I would surrender that ultimate control to God. Being a converted Roman Catholic, for me that meant specifically a commitment to Jesus Christ.

Wait, it’s not like that! I’ve always held religious beliefs, along with the belief that politicians and others who thump the Bible for monetary or other personal gain are detestable.

I did it knowing full well that both good things and bad would keep happening. The miracle is the hard-won wisdom of realizing that the two often bleed into one.

Early this year, from out of the blue, came a call from a highly respected TV network production company. They wanted to option for TV and motion picture rights my 1998 book "Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America." The question was: Would they actually exercise the legal option and make this a reality?

Then I learned who held the option. More, I discovered their inspiration for the project.

The producer of what is to be a weekly network dramatic series was associates with a remarkable woman, Linda Mancuso, whom I also got to know in 1997 when I interviewed her for "Powerchicks." Linda was known in Hollywood for being a top network executive, but also for her gutsy fight against breast cancer.

It was through Linda and her association and friendship with me that this powerful producer first became familiar with my book. Sadly, Linda died of cancer before she could see the book get optioned for TV. Now, my gladness in the TV project mixes inextricably with my sadness for — and gratefulness to — Linda Mancuso.

This week, I’m to attend the funeral of another "powerchick" named Joyce Shade. She too met all the book’s criteria for women who were only beginning to emerge as business and societal powers, instead of having long been the glue that kept male power intact.

The sad news came to me just days ago. My close friend U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., showed up unexpectedly at my office. "Matthew, I have some bad news…" I knew what was coming. Joyce had died. She was the senator’s most trusted business and political confidante.

So again, giving one’s life over to God doesn’t always deliver happy outcomes. That’s not the way it works.

Joyce Shade never played games. She could spot a phony or an enemy a mile away. She was sharp enough to run any business or other organization. It’s no wonder Johnny Isakson plucked this jewel from a sea of political flotsam. Like her, he is the real deal.
Johnny will freely admit that without Joyce, there would be no senator, no public figure named Johnny Isakson. Not because he’s unqualified. Quite the opposite. And one of his key qualifications is that he was shrewd enough 40 years ago to have chosen this capable and trustworthy woman to help him build his career.

So now we say goodbye to Joyce Shade, as we did to the "sister-in-arms" she never knew, Linda Mancuso.

I can’t help but believe there was a reason I was inspired to write a book in 1998 about the rise of women in America. It was because of women like Linda Mancuso, yes, but also ones like Joyce Shade. Women who don’t just stand behind male leaders, but often next to and in front of them.

This much I’m sure of: Had Joyce eventually chosen to be a political candidate herself, her first volunteer would have been Johnny Isakson. The second would have been me.