Msnowe's Blog

got problems with the election? : thatsyourtrouble weighs in

Posted in Barack Obama, John McCain, Palin, thatsyourtrouble by m.snowe on September 12, 2008

M.Snowe would like to share some very astute summations (below in blue) from her coworker/friend, thatsyourtrouble. This was birthed from a lively email debate…

Sorry for the ramblings below, but your blog helped to crystallize some of my thinking here:

Even I was a bit surprised that some have actually been using the term “catfight” to describe Clinton/Palin disputes that are not even occurring. I tried to measure this with my sexismometer, but all of a sudden it seemed to be broken.

The gender politics angle of the Palin nomination is very interesting. It is of course the duty of those on the left to defend her from sexist attacks but to oppose her on the content of the McCain platform (or her own opinions on the issues, if we find out more about what those are).

But what are we to think about her instant popularity among many conservatives and independents? We should not assume that a male candidate could not have attracted the same enormous support, but regardless of whether her gender is an essential component, her own unusual and particular identity is the key.

Her story as a regular person who has achieved tremendous success without the elitist taint of Ivy League education is a large positive factor in the populist tradition. Furthermore, the story of her own life as a woman and mother who has lived her pro-life principles is extremely validating for “values” conservatives of both genders. Conservative and apolitical women will support her fervently because they can stand up for women by doing so. They may even identify as pro-life feminists, but Palin has none of the “negatives” that traditionally accompany feminism in the conservative mind. Her feminism consists in her ability to accomplish anything she tries to achieve (and to do so while raising a family). Thus they agree with her stand against the old-boy network and her ability to break the glass ceiling. She does not embody a challenge to any “traditional” values, and her somewhat unusual (and yet still traditional) relationship with her husband is extremely reassuring in that it shows that she has no fundamentally “anti-man” views that most conservatives associate with feminism. Furthermore, her pro-life credentials obviously cannot be doubted. I would argue that her physical attractiveness is also extremely important. The Rush Limbaugh conservatives truly believe that feminists (feminazis) turn to this ideology in part because they themselves are physically (and thus spiritually, one suspects they believe) ugly, and I suspect that Palin’s physical attractiveness (and youth) are as important to mobilizing enthusiastic support in both men and women as a child star’s cuteness is to eliciting sympathy from a movie audience. I think that even in this allegedly more enlightened age, the attractiveness/likeability connection continues to be as huge a factor in politics as in life. Kay Bailey Hutchison would not have elicited enthusiasm, partly because she is not new to the scene and a rising star, but also because her physical appearance makes her less likely to be liked. The same can apply to male politicians, I’d say, though the bar is set far lower and the effect is probably much smaller.

So in the end Palin is an instant hero(ine) to female voters because of her impressive personal accomplishments while also validating the views of conservative women and (perhaps especially) conservative men. At the same time she also claims the status of a maverick; her maverick status and McCain’s probably reinforce each other in increasingly positive ways. Furthermore, she is threatening only to “old boy network” male politicians, and men and women alike will generally cheer the success of anyone (especially someone who is as instantly charming as Ms. Palin) who has unseated the undeserving establishment (of which the old boy network is an example).

The backstory of the Democrats and the fate of Hillary Clinton helps further, because Republicans and independents can feel that they are standing up for women while the Democrats dissed them. Furthermore, Palin’s place on the ticket allows Republicans and independents to be enthusiastic about an historic candidacy of their own—ground that was formerly necessarily ceded to the Obama people. This eliminates the enthusiasm gap, and, for any Republicans or independents who think about race, it probably wipes away any race-related guilt.

Of course, there are some wonkier conservative voters out there who will worry about Palin’s lack of experience, but comparison to Obama’s lack of experience makes this easier to overlook. Some will also see the pick of Palin as a cynical ploy, but the feel-good story seems to be winning the day. It’s still possible that external events could knock Palin from her current popularity, but unless that happens, I think this gives the Republicans an advantage that the Dems will not be able to overcome.

Dear John Letters… (in which M.Snowe fakes it but good)

Posted in Equal Pay Act, equality, John McCain, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tires, sexism by m.snowe on April 25, 2008

1 Writer’s Block Plaza
USA, Blogosphere, Universe, etc.

Senator John McCain
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Main: 202-224-2235
Fax: 202-228-2862

Dear Senator:

First, please excuse my intrusion. Since I am not a member of your Arizonian constituency, feel free to disregard my humble correspondence. However, since you are running as the Republican candidate for president, it might be conceivable that you would read and absorb my letter. In hopes of the later, I will continue with my praise of your most recent Senate actions.

This past week, the Senate was called to vote on a bill approved by the House and originally written by those whom you lovingly consider “your friends on the other side of the aisle.” Before I address this bill, I’d like to point out that you should be a bit more careful, Mr. Seniorator. What I mean is, you use the address “my friends” in many different contexts, not all entirely amiable. Now, as a staunch supporter, I know that when you call Democrats “friends” you mean something different than when you call campaign contributors at your rallies “friends” (wink wink). But that’s another story.

Back to the Bill. It was the Equal Pay Bill, also know as the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the name taken from the Supreme Court case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc. The bill was written–as I’m sure your copious hours of research into the bill informed you–as a correction to the Supreme Court’s ruling that a worker should be limited to 180 days upon first instance of discriminatory pay practice by an employer based on sex, race, age, etc. Ledbetter, an employee of Goodyear, and her lawyers claimed that every time she received a pay check that was less than her male equals’ salaries, it constituted discrimination. But you, dear Senator, and the Supreme Court (or at least those legal eagles: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, & Thomas: the conservative bench clusterfuck, as I fondly call them) decided that if this woman had a gripe with her pay scale, she should have complained within 180 of being hired by Goodyear. If she was so conscientious about receiving equal pay, why didn’t she snoop around the records of her fellow employees while she was still on her initial six-month probationary period upon hiring–you know, back when she was new, didn’t have a rapport with her colleagues, and didn’t know how much they made, and was barred from asking as a matter of company policy? If she got canned then and there for snooping, it wouldn’t have blown up into an expensive and unfruitful extended legal battle now! Think of the time everyone could have saved and all the tires that could’ve been made with the money instead used to pay the lawyers! If she just married up and stopped futzing around with rubber and tires, we’d all be able to stick an extra wheel on or cars, and have as many rubber stamps as we wanted (which would SO come in handy once you’re president!).

So again, I must applaud your decision not to vote on this bill, and instead campaign for contribution monies in some of the poorest sections of the country, like New Orleans; because let’s face it, the best way to stop poverty, and specifically poverty among women and children, is going to their home town and asking for money for your campaign–not to sit in your leather senate seat and try to legislate away their problems! They need to carry a McCain FOR PRESIDENT banner to really combat their lower wages and discriminatory victimization. Like osmosis, our grand old party ideas of free market economies and free enterprise will seep into their ears, and allow the New Orleans people to wipe off their toxic-mold encrusted sneakers and participate in the utopia of true laissez faire! Huzzah!

I melted at your words when interviewed about the bill. You said: “I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what’s being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems.” *Give me a moment while I collect myself, and re-congeal from the puddle of Republican glee I was just transported into by your eloquence.*

Okay. So the lawsuits, the legal battles, all this unnecessary stuff–you hit the nail right on the democrat’s head. We don’t want all these lawsuits! And this legislation would open it up, allowing women to sue whenever they actually find discrimination–not just those 180 days. They have long careers, so that would be absolute chaos! Of course, it might make people file suit without direct evidence in the first 180 days, just to cover their legal bases, so to speak…but I don’t think that’s likely. Who ever heard of courts being flooded with unwarranted law suits instead of well-researched, justifiable ones?

Besides, the heart of this issue, as you so rightly but your finger on, is not that women are receiving lower pay for equal work, it’s that they don’t know what they’re doing (especially in comparison to men). In full disclosure, I’m a woman, and I can confirm that I don’t know what I’m doing, even now, sitting here drafting this letter to you in praise for your work. I’d need more clues than a naked scavenger hunt to really understand your policy. But the other message that you told the press that made me liquefy was this one (in regard to the salary disparity between men and women):

“They [women] need the education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else,…And it’s hard for them to leave their families when they don’t have somebody to take care of them….It’s a vicious cycle that’s affecting women, particularly in a part of the country like this, where mining is the mainstay; traditionally, women have not gone into that line of work, to say the least,”

*note: a single, translucent tear of pristine republican emotion runs down my cheek every time I read this, fomenting my soul with GOP solidarity. *

You see, you silly discriminatory-practices-lawsuit women, like Madame Ledbetter (her name is even criminal!)–you have it all wrong! Senator, you know where the problem needs to be nipped in the bud: Education. Women aren’t getting paid less because they’re women, it’s because they’re stupid, and can’t perform tasks! All that sentimental stuff: yikes. It’s surprising enough that women can even manage to form lawsuits, with all the hormones and familial concerns.

You said you saw the disparity in wages, and want to rectify it. Well, Senator, do I have an initiative for you! I say, you put women back in their traditional spot: the home, and more specifically, the kitchen. They seem to like taking care of their families, as you suggested in the quote above. Just eradicate hiring women in the US! Ah, but I know you’re saying to yourself, “well, that’s a good idea, but how would I do it?” Don’t worry John (I feel we’re on an intimate, first name basis now) I wouldn’t leave you hanging. Remember after the liberalism of the 1920’s, followed by the depression, and then WWII, everybody got reallllllly conservative, and Rosie the Riveter put away her hammer and instead constructed school lunch boxes in poodle skirts and stuff? Well, all we need to do to get back to the glory days of Dad Knows Best is to start a war, in tandem with a depression of sorts. You see, the first baby boom occurred because Americans needed to do some good old fashioned boning after all those years of depressing war. And the babies were born more frequently after the Great Depression, because people felt they could now afford to have them. So, think about it. All you need is an altercation, or war of some sort against a foreign power and ideology…and then maybe a recession, followed by an upturn. And BOOM! Women are in the kitchen where they so rightly fit. Less women and lawsuits to deal with at work! Everybody wins! Now if we could only find a long, drawn out war, and an unstable economy…..

Best wishes to your campaign!

Your Ever-Ardent Political Fan and Future Bathroom Tryst,

M. Snowe