Ashanti Adores Michelle Obama; ABC Anchor Hoists Feminist Torch High

transom ashanti redbook eve Ashanti Adores Michelle Obama; ABC Anchor Hoists Feminist Torch HighOn Monday, July 21, at the top floor of the Hearst Tower, a crowd of wealthy-looking women gathered for a reception and panel discussion sponsored by Every Woman Counts, a nonpartisan endeavor of Redbook magazine and the Lifetime Network encouraging ladyfolk to participate in the coming election. And by “participate,” we assume they mean to wave placards around, perhaps; to knock on doors, sure—but also to just plain vote!

Redbook editor in chief Stacy Morrison said the event correlated nicely with her goals for the magazine: to bring women together. “I think women are resistant to the polarizing aspect of politics,” she said, conjuring a lovely, idealistic image of Our Bodies, Ourselves-era post-hippies braiding one another’s hair and clasping hands over “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.”

“I see a lot of powerful women here,” said the pop star and guest of honor Ashanti, clad in a strapless black Max Azria dress. What does she think of perhaps the most scrutinized woman of the current presidential campaign, Mrs. Barack Obama? “Michelle represents where we are now. She’s upfront, you know? I like that.”

“[Michelle] should be herself,” advised panelist and Democratic New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who has just authored a book, Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated (Modern Times), about women’s issues and activism. Homonym alert: Ms. Maloney noted that “many people were in mourning” for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign, but that the Obamas represent a “new morning” for her party.

Veteran ABC news anchor and panel moderator Lynn Sherr said it was a little “stunning” to still be addressing women’s struggles in American politics. “I’ve been doing this for five election cycles—more, even!” she said. “And I’ve loved it. But we’re still not done.”

cbankoff@observer.com