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Babes in Boyland

Sep
23
2004

The thought of Nancy Pelosi wielding the speaker’s gavel in the U.S. House (see post below) along with the spate of stories on Kerry and women voters and Bush and “security Moms” has me thinking.
Thinking generally cranky thoughts about the Democratic Party. What’s the matter with these guys?


Naomi Wolfe – who holds down the “hot but smart” feminist-but-a-wife, job in New York’s Big Media circles has an interesting essay about how the Republicans have positioned themselves to reassure and attract women voters. In a sentence: the Republicans make every effort to speak the language of middle class American women.
I don’t think they’re talking to women, frankly. Instead, they are speaking to upper middle class American mothers who, unlike Wolff (and me, for that matter) have little interest in the sort of status politics that are played as recreational sports in Washington and New York. But even there, I’m afraid, the Republicans out-maneuver the Democrats. Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham may be crazy – they are, they’re so in it for the money – but they get attention from the people who run things, particularly things on TV. Wolfe accomplishes the same thing, of course; watching her gad about the first few days of Dennis Miller’s TV talk-show debut was mesmerizing in a horrible kind of way. She’s not that great on her feet; unlike Coulter and Ingraham, Wolfe needs to be liked.
The “looks good, sounds smart” game is one the Democrats have been unwilling to play in a big way. In fact, it’s a game the left has been unwilling to play for a while; and not because they’re feminists who don’t want to exploit women’s good looks. No, quite the contrary. Take a look at what Slate media critic Jack Shaffer has to say about Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham’s most recent cover story in Harper’s. Read carefully, the list of writers that Lapham has published. Like the Washington Monthly’s list of emeriti, You’ll notice an omission. There are no women’s names on the list.
And yes, this is self-serving. As a Liberal Democrat in a state that’s so safe for Kerry he could (and probably does) wear it as a security blanket, this site gets so little attention from the Democratic Party it’s sad. Things would be very different if I were a Republican who, by the way, send me a regular list of updates, news releases, comments and official propaganda. Kerry’s California guys – his press guys – don’t even return calls. And that’s after they dumped me and every other political “blogger” off their own blog.
This neglect is costing, slowly but surely, the Democrats’ credibility with women and with mothers. If, as Wolfe says, Bush – like his father before him, through his wife – is able to signal a pro-choice tolerance from a conservative Christian stand-point, then the only issue keeping many women in the “D” column gets thinner and thinner. The unlikely event that Pelosi will become Speaker of the House might keep them. But barely.
It shows in a number of ways. For instance, the Democrats have been slow-off-the-dime to respond to talk from pollsters that horrible photos from Beslan have renewed fears about terrorism in the nation’s mothers. This is ridiculous. Controls on sales of automatic weapons were allows to expire earlier this month; can’t the Democrats – other than the thrice-married and a little chilly Sen. Dianne Feinstein – get someone to go on TV and talk about that? Columbine. Beslan. Automatic weapons. I see a connection. And I’m not even Michael Moore.
UPDATE: A reader writes in from Southern Illinois to say that the weapons used in Columbine were semi-automatic, not automatic and that there is a difference. A grusome one, I might add. But, nevertheless, a difference. So let me make this point a bit clearer. The Bush Administration’s refusal to help renew the ban an assualt weapons should be political fodder for the Democrats. And it could be used — effectively, I think — as a way to counter the fears of “security Moms” looking at those sad pictures from Russia. So, as I said, what is the matter with these guys?

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 12:40 PM | Permalink

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