I guess it was the last straw,” said a stunned Bella Abzug. “Instead of firing Billy Carter, they fired me.” The perturbed President had just dumped the voluble Bella as co-leader of his National Advisory Committee for Women. A contentious debate on national priorities was the coup de grace after seven months of prickly personal relations in which Abzug, the White House felt, sought to control the group’s direction and deliberations.
Accustomed as she has become to defeat—three elections in the past two and a half years—Bella wasted no time feeling sorry for herself. More than half of her 39 fellow advisory committee members, including NOW president Eleanor Smeal and actress Mario Thomas, resigned in protest. “Obviously,” observed Abzug, ever insistent on having the last word, “the Administration wanted us to consent, not advise.”