Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Weird Year for Women in Politics

Since Hillary Clinton came thisclose to winning the White House, the gender wars have taken a right turn and gone internecine, but could all the conflict energize a huge traditional Democratic base--women? Not likely, but still possible.

The latest all-female mud fight has Bush spokesperson Dana Perino taking on Maureen Dowd for a "stereotypical and uncalled for" attack on Republican and conservative women.

Perino is irked by a Dowd column about "Republican Mean Girls, grown-up versions of those teenage tormentors who would steal your boyfriend, spray-paint your locker and, just for good measure, spread rumors that you were pregnant.

"These women--Jan, Meg, Carly, Sharron, Linda, Michele, Queen Bee Sarah and sweet wannabe Christine--have co-opted and ratcheted up the disgust with the status quo that originally buoyed Barack Obama...replaced Hope with Spite and Cool with Cold. They are the ideal nihilistic cheerleaders for an angry electorate."

This prompts the notoriously even-tempered Perino to respond: "Can women have moments they aren’t proud of? Sure. But to write all conservative and Republican women off as mean is...mean."

Chalk this spat off to partisan reflexes were it not for other symptoms such as Meghan McCain's swipe at Christine O'Donnell as "a nut job," even as her father is out stumping for Carly Fiorina.

In these last days before the balloting, such female fisticuffs may portend something more than the kind of entertainment that enriched wrestling impresaria and would-be Senator from Connecticut Linda McMahon.

As Democrats scramble to rally their traditional strongholds--youth, African-Americans, Latinos, organized labor--there may still be untapped gold in the women's vote.

Are the majority willing to be represented by Sarah Palin's Mamma Grizzlies with moola? Will they allow a new falsehood about them--feisty but clueless--to replace the old pretty-but-dumb stereotypes?

For someone who edited magazines for millions of them and has a plaque for vocally supporting the Equal Rights Amendment back in 1979, this looks like a big step back from three women on the Supreme Court and a near-miss at the Presidency two years ago.

If men are too thick to see they are being sold a Tea Party bill of goods, women should do a much better job of comparison shopping. They still have two weeks to do it.

Update: A dumb debate, but at least a start, stirs MSNBC pundits on why so many women support the Tea Party. Bafflement is followed by explanations that they write the household checks, are disturbed by the state of their family economies and, of course, blame politicians. If the level of discourse stays that low, Democrats are doomed. But will it?

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