Oh dear–Susan Estrich, law professor, commentator, and onetime Dem short-lister for the U.S. Supreme Court, seems to have become truly discombobulated by my opinion piece last Sunday for the Los Angeles Times, “Feminist Fatale,” in which I argued that the reason there are almost no female public intellectuals around to step into Susan Sontag’s shoes is that most credentialed women have preferred to turn themselves into feminist ideologues rather than confront larger issues of politics, culture, and the arts as Sontag did.
(I might add that Estrich herself is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Wellesley College, Harvard Law Review–and all she can do is churn out screeds about supposed sex discrimination.)
Estrich has gone quite bizarro. First there was the wack e-mail she zapped to her gal-pals urging them to start a letter-writing campaign and advertising boycott designed to force the L.A. Times to set up gender-quotas for women columnists and op-ed writers. (I’m a woman, of course, but because Estrich had “never heard of” me, I don’t count.) Her chief target was fellow Harvard alum Michael Kinsley, editor of the Times’s opinion pages, who had ticked her off by not responding to her e-mails (how dare he?).
Now comes Estrich’s latest effusion, for the RealClearPolitcs website, and it’s even stranger than the first. She’s upped the ante on what she wants from Kinsley: namely his neck. And also the neck of Harvard president Larry Summers, for daring to speculate that innate differences between the sexes might have something to do with the underrepresentation of women in the sciences:
“It has always been my theory that women in America have enormous power, if only we would use it. But it’s hard: You have to be willing to stand up, find allies, take the arrows and have people (men) call you names. Usually, it takes an insult — a tough one — to provoke us. But when provoked, watch out. Just ask Harvard President Larry Summers. His days are numbered. The opinion editor of the Los Angeles Times would do well to consult with his fellow Harvard man on the topics of women and the cost of arrogance. His are, too.”
There’s more. Susan thinks–get this!–that the idea for piece couldn’t have been mine (I’m such a nobody) but had to come from Michael Kinsley himself::
“95 percent of the top earners in corporate America are still men.
“But that is the dark side. The other side is what happens when men say out loud what they think, or let women do their dirty work. It was a little-known Washington blogger, Charlotte Allen, who expressed the opinion that feminists had shrunken their minds, but given the record of the paper in not publishing women, it’s hard to believe that, at some level, as in the case of the president of Harvard, what was said was not simply meant to provoke.”
Now, that’s what I call being a few beans short of a burrito.
For the record, Susan, although I’ve met–or at least I think I’ve met–Michael at a couple of parties years ago when he was still living in Washington, and although I found him personally charming and delightfully clever, there’s scarcely an idea in his liberal political playbook with which I agree. The idea for “Feminist Fatale” was entirely my own–and I’ll sue anyone who tries to claim credit for it! I pitched the idea by e-mail to a lower-level Sunday opinion-section editor who regularly edits my stuff for that section, and he said go for it. Sorry, I’ve had no contact whatsoever with Michael before, during, or after the publication of the piece.
But it sure would be fun to do Michael’s “dirty work”! Hire me to channel you, Michael, and we’ll soon be reading Michael Kinsley on Why We Should Privatize Social Security, Michael Kinsley on U.S. Out of U.N., and Michael Kinsley on How the Invasion of Iraq Was the Best Thing Since We Slammed Back the Rebs at Pickett’s Charge. Michael, I’m your woman–and love that warm L.A. weather, too!
As I said in an earlier post, Estrich’s real beef is that the Times and most other newspapers won’t run her predictable snooze of a syndicated column. Listen to this whine:
“Time after time, when I ask my syndicate ‘how I’m doing,’ it explains the facts of life to me: Most newspapers will only ‘take’ one liberal woman. If they take Molly Ivins or Ellen Goodman, they won’t take me.”
Well, boo hoo. After you’ve finished slogging through Ellen Goodman, who wants to have to have to slog through Susan Estrich, too?
Susan is dead set, however, that someone’s gonna pay for those words that I–er, Michael Kinsley–wrote last Sunday.
“Once women hear them, even one woman standing up — with her friends around her and a couple of Rolaids at the ready — can make them eat those words. That is what I want to teach my daughter.”
Not Rolaids, of course, but Kinsley head-roll-aids.
“Given the state of women today, it is the most important lesson I can offer her, even if my stomach is killing me right now.”
Your stomach is killing you? Shades of those vapors the MIT science professor got a case of when Larry Summers spoke his thoughts. Susan, what I think you need is a nice, relaxing day at the spa and a big, slushy grenadine margarita.