Al Gore's alpha female.
Wolf sees the telling of her own personal experiences as a triumph for all women. Her third book, Promiscuities, is a memoir in which she single-handedly "retrieve[s] [the] secret struggle for womanhood" by narrating her own sexual coming of age. "By telling my story and asking other women to tell theirs, I wanted to elucidate the emotional truths that emerge from a particular generation's erotic memory," she explains. She bills her stories as tough to tell: In a Tikkun magazine piece on her coming out as a spiritual person, she testifies that "it's taken me nine years to build up enough credibility in the analytic/linear world that I can now speak and have some expectation of being heard to a certain degree. It's been a long haul, and very much a gendered haul." This from a woman whose first book was a best seller, published in 14 countries.
Indeed, Wolf often expounds on the trauma--and the necessity--of expressing herself in public. In all three of her books, Wolf demands the need for positive role models in the media--of which, naturally, she is one. It's a brilliantly self-justifying line of reasoning: I am on television because I am a role model, and I am a role model because I am on television. And a great marketing strategy: Buy my books, because they're good for your daughter.
It's no wonder that Wolf has become a well-paid political consultant. Who better to help a candidate extract weighty lessons from his personal history, to teach him to tell voters that their own successes depend on his own? At last, it seems, Wolf has found a forum where the personal really is as political as she thinks it is.
Jodi Kantor is Slate's New York editor.