The irrepressible Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations–she who made a fool of herself in 2003 trying to force the Augusta National Golf Club to accept women–is at it again, this time with what may be the nation’s most bizarre obituary of Ronald Reagan, whom she deems “the most anti-woman president of the 20th century.” (Thanks to radio talk-show host Glenn Sacks for sending on the link.)
Writing for Women’s eNews (“Bridging the Gender Gap Every Day”), Martha writes, for example, that Reagan’s cortege “snaked its way through Washington.” Snaked? A dozen military bands and honor guards, a 21-plane flyover, and a procession from the White House Elipse to the U.S. Capitol down Constitutution Avenue, one of the District of Columbia’ widest and straightest streets? Of course, what Martha really deems snaky was Reagan’s policies. He was an advocate of limited government, which is anathema to Martha’s brand of feminism, which holds that women are helpless without Uncle Sam. Martha writes:
“This meant the shrinking of departments such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charged with investigating sex discrimination in the workplace. The effect of this was to send a signal that the government would turn a blind eye to pay gaps and sexual harassment now that employers had a friend in the White House.
“Even while sex discrimination claims rose 25 percent during the 1980s, the Reagan administration cut the EEOC budget in half, slashed its caseload to a third of its former size and put the soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas–a man who didn’t believe discrimination existed–in charge with a directive to investigate ‘by the book.’ That was code for delay, drag out and drop cases. Many women with legitimate claims simply gave up and tried to move to another job; if they could find one in the Reagan recession. The EEOC, like most other government agencies slashed in the Reagan years, has never recovered.”
Yes, the “Reagan recession.” It lasted exactly one year, 1982, to be followed by a seven-year boom period throughout the rest of the 1980s, another boom that extended through the 1990s, and another period of sustained economic growth starting this year. In all three of these boom periods, women participated in the workforce in unprecedented numbers and personally reaped the prosperity. Of course “sex discrimination claims” went up during the Reagan years. Such claims will always go up as long as there’s a federal law promising financial rewards for making them and there are lawyers to get paid for litigating them. And as Burk herself admits, even Bill Clinton during his eight years in office couldn’t see any point in re-bloating the EEOC.
Burk also attacks Reagan for–horrors!–not being nice enough to welfare mothers:
“Reagan also publicly insulted single mothers raising children with the help of federal assistance by calling them ‘welfare queens,’ thus setting the stage for the dramatic retrenchment of aid to families headed by women.”
And a good thing too, as welfare reform has helped break down the culture of dependency that has stagnated and crippled entire generations of women and their children since the 1960s. And I can’t help but point out that the restructuring that Burk laments took place, not under Reagan or the two Bushes whose presidencies Burk also despises but under the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton, suggesting a certain amount of bipartisan agreement on the subject of welfare queens.
Martha winds it up:
‘This week we have all been forced to stop and contemplate Ronald Reagan’s legacy. For women, it is a bitter harvest indeed.”
Mixed-metaphor alert, Martha, among other things.