July 3 2012
I am hereby launching a new category for posts: The Without a Hint of Irony Dept.
The first entry is battle-hardened former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent remark that a lack of civility is the reason there aren’t more women in Congress. As Pelosi herself once remarked in another context: Are you serious?
Here is some of what Ms. Pelosi said:
The stridency, the harshness– they suppress, they suffocate the system with money, they suppress the vote and they poison the debate and that’s not a good formula for women because women need to have a civil conservation. The minute a woman gets tough in a debate, you know what they say about her.
This from one of the toughest politicians on Capitol Hill? And what about that shrinking violet Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the shrill DNC chair who is so harsh that her job may actually be in jeopardy? Hillary of Clinton, another pushover, and don’t forget…well, the list is too long.
Ms. Pelosi obviously missed the story on “Women of Power” in IWF’s old The Women’s Quarterly. Written by Christine Rosen, it was entitled “How Do Women Rule? Just Like Men.” Debunking the notion that women in positions of power are less fierce than men, Rosen cited the village-razing Boadicea of English history, Catherine de’ Medici, who convinced her husband to carry out the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, and Indira Gandi and Margaret Thatcher. We might also add Pelosi to this fearsome list.
Apparently, it has never occurred to Ms. Pelosi that the reason there aren't more women in Congress is that many women have other things they'd prefer to do. They make other choices. Yeah, I know it's weird.
We at IWF, of course, are more interested in a politician’s philosophy and courage than her gender. Indeed, we do not assess our leaders on the basis of gender—and neither, really, does Ms. Pelosi. Ask her if she thinks having, for example, New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte or other GOP women in Congress is good for women. But you already know the answer to this question.
But expect to hear a lot of talk about us poor, frightened women between now and November. There’s a “war on women,” didn’t you know? In fact, political philosopher and Obama campaign co-chair Eva Longoria says that “there is no way a woman can vote Republican.”
Meanwhile, in a Reuters piece headlined “Will the ‘War on Women’ Have Legs in November?” New Hampshire Democratic Senator Jeaanne Shaheen says that her party “should not hold back” from “war on women” rhetoric in campaigning.
“I’m old enough to remember the ’50s and before … contraceptives were widely available to people, what my mother and other women were dealing with,” the New Hampshire Democrat said on Tuesday at the Reuters Washington Summit. “I’m old enough to remember what it was like before Roe v. Wade, and I think access to reproductive health services for women is critical. And I don’t think women in this country are planning to go back.”
That the Democrats keep raising the issue of contraception, knowing full well that Republicans have no interest in restricting it, shows something as bad as a lack of civility: dishonesty. Republicans by and large do believe that religious employers who regard contraception as morally wrong should not be forced to pay for contraceptive coverage. That isn't the same as having a policy on contraception.
But glad Ms. Shaheen is able to overcome the lack of civility in Congress!