“Without Joe Scarborough here, I will be able to finish a sentence,” joked Mika Brzezinski last night at Mizner Park Amphitheater, where she gave a spirited presentation in front of an appreciative crowd of Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike.
And finish sentences she did. Liberated from the cadre of men with whom she spends three hours every weekday morning – Scarborough, Willie Geist and Mike Barnacle among them – Brzezinski spoke candidly and self-effacingly about her journey toward pay equity, or something close to it, in her patriarchal profession. Speaking as part of Festival of the Arts Boca, she was supporting her 2011 book “Knowing Your Value,” a studious and occasionally repetitive self-help book to assist women in earning their value in the workplace. Her stellar lecture was everything her book wasn’t: Animated, to-the-point and the enormously entertaining.
One of Brzezinski’s keys to success is the relentlessness of her work ethic, the fact that, as she says, “I don’t like a second to go by without wasting it.” She also improves her own brand by taking on challenges, including speaking in front of large crowds of people; she humbly admitted to “sweating bullets” in Mizner last night.
Brzezinski was most revealing in the question-and-answer session following her lecture, in which she fielded queries on everything from birth-control mandates by Catholic institutions (an issue she is clearly torn on, as both a Catholic and a modern woman) and the GOP’s misguided attacks on contraception to young people’s entrances into the workforce and her fitness regimen. She said that she runs and lift weights, adding, somewhat disturbingly, that, “I don’t eat much, because you can’t eat much to fit into these clothes. I’m hungry all the time.” She said, “The American diet is terrible,” and is currently working on a book about women’s food anxieties. Like “Knowing Your Value,” it is meant to help herself as much as the multitude of women for whom diet is a continuous stressor. Barring an awkward exchange with an audience member who criticized Brzezinski’s penchant for wearing “schamtzas” over her beautiful clothes (I had to look that one up myself), the entire evening went swimmingly.
Here are some other highlights from Brzezinski’s hour-plus presentation.
“We have one Republican in my family … he’s an outcast.”
“Awkward silence is awesome in a negotiation.”
“Remove ‘Sorry’ from your vocabulary.”
“I’m OK with being No. 2 [on “Morning Joe”]. I’m incredibly proud of it. I’m happy exactly where I am.”
“We can push out this whole crop [of congressmen] and we’d be good. Who is this 9 percent that likes them?”