Victoria Clarke

Caitlin Clarke is not the only active member of her family, as I discovered in a periodical search of Google for pages mentioning her.

One such search revealed a web page called Opening Statement of Senator Carl Levin [of Michigan] Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on the Nominations …, which was at the Senator's web site until the start of 2004.

The hearing, held on 24 April 2001, deal with positions in the U.S. Department of Defense. Victoria "Torie" Clarke, a career lobbyist and spokesperson, was nominated for assistant secretary for public affairs (the DoD's chief spokesperson).

What caught my eye, and Google's, was this comment:

And I understand, Ms. Clarke, that your husband, Brian Graham, and your children, Colin, Devon, and Charlie, are here, as well as your parents, Charles and Cecilia Clarke, and your sister, Caitlin Clarke. We welcome all of them. Family support is essential in these positions.

Family support is indeed important if your job will put you on the receiving end of a crowd of journalists, especially if a conflict should break out.

Victoria Clarke was approved by the Armed Services Committee on 1 May 2001. Approval by the full Senate, held up for awhile by Senate Republicans in a tiff with the Defense Secretary, came on 17 May 2001.

Update (11 October 2001): That conflict has broken out.

The United States is now at war with Taliban-ruled Afghanistan due to the WTC/Pentagon attacks of 11 September 2001. Ms. Clarke—who was in an unaffected part of the Pentagon when the jetliner paid its one-way visit—now has the job of communicating to the press during the conflict. This is a most unenviable post: From the days of the Vietnam war relations between the American military and press have been (to put it charitably) cool. It will be a true accomplishment if Ms. Clarke can pull this off without too much damage to herself.

Update (13 December 2001): The conflict is in end game. The Taliban have been crushed. Bin-Laden is being dug out of the earth like a potato. And there is an article on Torie Clarke in the Chicago Tribune last month. One of the paragraphs was rather insulting (it implied that Caitlin Clarke's career was over), but it was an interesting article overall.

The article stated that Torie Clarke was six feet tall (the same height as mine), and as further proof there is a photo of her conferring with the U.S. Secretary of Defense in a U.S. New & World Report article.

Update (19 May 2003): Another war has come and gone, this time in Iraq, which has been extensively covered in the media thanks to embedded journalists among the troops. This idea was hatched by Torie Clarke, who has been in office for almost two years now.

There is an article on the Clarke Sisters in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It is an interview with Caitlin Clarke and her parents, mostly about Torie.

Update (27 June 2003): I decided that the 19 May 2003 update would not be the last. This will be the last update.

Torie Clarke surprised both friends and bosses by resigning her post as Pentagon spokesperson on 20 June 2003.

The personal reasons she cites for her departure is a wide blanket. I hope this has nothing to do with her oldest sister, whose absence in this summer's Pittsburgh theater is a cause for concern.

Anyway, now that Torie Clarke is out of public view, I will bid her goodbye and close this page. After all, this site is all about Torie's oldest sister, not about Torie herself. It's a pity, but then it was Torie's choice to take on a career that does not make her any fans…at least the type that can write web pages. :)

Update (2 August 2004): The 27 June 2003 update is still the last. This is just maintenance. The Levin web site dropped the Senator's 2001 speech to the Pentagon nominees, so I removed the now-dead links to the site.

Update (12 September 2004): Another maintenance update. Some minor editing (including correcting a misspelt word I never noticed all these years). Torie Clarke is not a happy person this day, and neither am I: Her oldest sister passed away on the ninth.

Update (16 October 2004): All essays, including this one, have been put in their own folder on the Web site. I chose this to make two addenda.

First, I learned from one of Ms. Clarke's relatives that Torie Clarke resigned because she really did want to spend time with her kids. Her current job as consultant to Comcast, the cable television giant, evidently does not consume a lot of time.

Update (24 May 2006): I don't know why but nobody seems to want to mention Ms. Clarke by name. Lewis Black (an old boyfriend) mentions her only once in his book Nothing's Sacred — in the acknowledgements.

Now her sister Torie has a book out called Lipstick on a Pig (ISBN 0743271165), ostensibly about how to avoid spin but more like a memoir of her years in public relations including the Pentagon.

Torie mentions her sisters, but not any of them in particular.

Being the youngest of five girls growing up in suburban Pittsburgh can be challenging under any circumstances. For me, the problems were compounded by the fact that my older sisters were everything I was not. They were beautiful, very smart, athletically gifted, and exceptional students. The three oldest ones could sing Gilbert and Sullivan a cappella, for God's sake.
Lipstick on a Pig, p. 205.

How odd: Ms. Clarke was nuts for Gilbert and Sullivan as a kid; yet she had never been in a Gilbert and Sullivan musical throughout her known acting career. It's just as well, too: I don't want to imagine Ms. Clarke singing Three Little Maids From School (Everything is a source of fun!) from The Mikado!

Copyright © 2007 by Andy West. Last updated 18 April 2013.