The New York Times has a story today that says female politicians are more likely, these days, to emphasize their maternity in selling themselves to the voting public, i.e., vote for me, I’m a mom. Hmm. The story goes into some detail about what a radical departure this is, as previously being a mommy was seen as a sign of weakness: For a long time women seeking high office, particularly executive office, were advised to play down their softer, domestic side, and play up their strength and qualifications. Focus groups often found voters questioning whether women were strong enough, tough enough, to lead. Huh. This just goes to show why I’m ill-suited for a career in politics, as it would be difficult to have one for very long before one developed an all-consuming contempt for voters.
Case in point: I once interviewed a woman at a rally for Dan Quayle. This was when he was briefly running for president, in 2000. “What do you like about him as a candidate?” I asked. “His marriage,” she said. “Go on,” I said. “Just…his marriage,” she said. Unspoken was her obvious contempt of the current occupant of the White House, who was also married, but who cheated on his wife. Quayle didn’t stay in the race long, and I assume this woman ended up voting for George Bush, who was also married. I wonder if she ever remembers this moment and feels like an idiot. My guess: No. One of the subsequent holders of Quayle’s foot-in-the-D.C.-door congressional seat is my old congressman, Mark Souder. He chickenhawked his way out of Vietnam as a conscientious objector and later was a strong booster of the Iraq war.
The archives of American newspapers are full of blustery quotes by male politicians who vowed to “protect” America, as though they were out there patrolling Fallujah in a Humvee, not sitting in Congress risking no injury more severe than accidental stabbing with a ballpoint pen. Remember when that crazy man came into the Capitol building with a gun and started shooting? It was a few years ago; he killed two Capitol police officers. Who was the testosterone-drenched congressman whose response was to lock the office door and crouch behind the desk? Tom DeLay? I think so. I remember thinking at the time, maybe this will be the incident that finally makes us confront the disgraceful state of care for the mentally ill in this country; perhaps it will be led by Congress, whose home was shot up by a man whose most recent treatment was “Greyhound therapy” — the inside-baseball jargon for buying a troublesome nutcase a ticket to another town, where he can be some other locality’s problem. No. Instead the talk was immediately about the far more useful tactic of arming everyone, so that the next attack could be answered by a hail of bullets by brave armed citizens.
If this is what passes for strength in Washington, bring on the mommies. At least I know they’ve been thrown up on and changed about two million diapers. That’s harder than flapping one’s gums.
Glory hallelujah, I never thought it would happen, and it has happened, and so it must be shouted to the heavens: I finally found a post-“Close Encounters” movie directed by Steven Spielberg that I actually like. “Munich.” Those who know me know this is a true milestone; I’m probably the most reliable Spielberg-hater in five counties. I’m still so stunned that I think I’m going to have to digest it for a few days before I can write about it. I just thought the date should be noted somewhere.
I don’t know why this is amusing, but The Sun has found topless photos/screen captures of all the nominees for Best Actress. (Probably NSFW, depending on where you W.) No, I know why it’s amusing: Because they asked, in the lead-in, who has the best “jubblies” on this year’s red carpet. Surprise of the bunch: Judi Dench. Yes, I said Judi Dench.
There are very few reporters who could write a first-person account of this personal problem — trying to get one’s passport renewed in a matter of days, after one has noticed its expiration and one has a non-refundable flight to Paris coming up — without sounding like an overprivileged twit. The phrase boo-freakin’-hoo comes to mind. And yet, most reporters are not Jon Carroll:
It was still dark outside. I sat on the narrow steps of the passport building. I guess I must have been looming in the gloaming, because I alarmed passers-by who suddenly rounded the corner and encountered my slumping form. I dialed the number on the window. I was placed on hold. I was on hold for quite a while. I began to realize that I looked a lot like an indigent person, huddled in a darkened doorway with an old cell phone pressed to my ear. Were a police officer to come along, what would I say? “I’m on hold with the State Department?” Yeah, I bet that works.
Forty-five minutes are up. Go have yourself a Monday.