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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

2008 Elections: Barbara Ehrenreich Weighs In

As longtime admirers of Barbara Ehrenreich, we were delighted to read her post in The Huffington Post today.

Titled "Hillary's Gift To Women," Ehrenreich's piece analyzes the myth of the nonviolent female of the species &mdash a myth that we, given our relationship with Mummy Dearest, have always known to be based on the slenderest of realities. Relevant excerpts:
A mere decade ago Francis Fukuyama fretted in Foreign Affairs that the world was too dangerous for the West to be entrusted to graying female leaders, whose aversion to violence was, as he established with numerous examples from chimpanzee society, "rooted in biology." The counter-example of Margaret Thatcher, perhaps the first of head of state to start a war for the sole purpose of pumping up her approval ratings, led him to concede that "biology is not destiny."
Need we remind the world of Golda Meir, who would have cheerfully kicked her opponents in the nuts; or Indira Gandhi, who had no qualms at all about forcibly vasectomizing working-class and poor men, or "disappearing" beggars, and flipped the mighty U.S. a rigid digit when offered wheat for the starving masses.

History records plenty of women like the Borgias, the Medicis, the dowager empresses of China who used military might, poisoning, war, and murder to get their own way. Regrettably, Hillary Clinton is made in their mold. As Ehrenreich says,
[...] by running a racially-tinged campaign, lying about her foreign policy experience, and repeatedly seeming to favor McCain over her Democratic opponent, Clinton didn't just break through the "glass floor," she set a new low for floors in general, and would, if she could have got within arm's reach, have rubbed the broken glass into Obama's face.
We don't agree with everything Ehrenreich says in her piece. For example, she states that the majority of those prosecuted for Abu Ghraib were female. We believe that is because women are generally treated more harshly for offenses that go against gender stereotypes. We note that Janis Karpinski's male bosses should have gone to the hoosegow for permitting untrained personnel, male and female, to "soften up" the prisoners of Abu Ghraib for interrogation. Yet Donald Rumsfeld walks free, as does Dick Cheney. Condi Rice will pay a greater price than Cheney or Rumsfeld for the mishaps of our foreign policy, although Cheney is undoubtedly the greater evil. We hold that this is due to sexism. Women who have power are often punished simply for holding power, much less wielding it.

Which is not to defend Rice, either, since she has proved herself at best thoroughly incompetent and at worst decidedly malign.

In any event, do go read the article. It, and the comments that followed, were instructive.

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