Way to say it, Campbell – and for that matter (and believe me I never thought I’d say this) my hat is off to the New York Times for publishing this:
Obama: Stop Condescending to Women
By CAMPBELL BROWN
Published: May 19, 2012
WHEN I listen to President Obama speak to and about women, he sometimes sounds too paternalistic for my taste. In numerous appearances over the years — most recently at the Barnard graduation — he has made reference to how women are smarter than men. It’s all so tired, the kind of fake praise showered upon those one views as easy to impress. As I listen, I am always bracing for the old go-to cliché: “Behind every great man is a great woman.”
Some women are smarter than men and some aren’t. But to suggest to women that they deserve dominance instead of equality is at best a cheap applause line.
My bigger concern is that in courting women, Mr. Obama’s campaign so far has seemed maddeningly off point. His message to the Barnard graduates was that they should fight for a “seat at the table” — the head seat, he made sure to add. He conceded that it’s a tough economy, but he told the grads, “I am convinced you are tougher” and “things will get better — they always do.”
Hardly reassuring words when you look at the reality. According to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, about 53.6 percent of men and women under the age of 25 who hold bachelor’s degrees were jobless or underemployed last year, the most in at least 11 years. According to the Pew Research Center, if we broaden the age group to 18- to 29-year-olds, an estimated 37 percent are unemployed or out of the work force, the highest share in more than three decades.
The human faces shouldn’t get lost amid the statistics. I spent last weekend with a friend who attended excellent private schools and graduated from Tufts University two years ago. She’s intelligent, impressive and still looking for a full-time job.
The women I know who are struggling in this economy couldn’t be further from the fictional character of Julia, presented in Mr. Obama’s Web ad, “The Life of Julia,” a silly and embarrassing caricature based on the assumption that women look to government at every meaningful phase of their lives for help.
My cousin in Louisiana started a small company with a little savings, renovating houses. A single mom, she saved enough to buy a home and provide child care for her son. When the economy went belly up, so did her company. She was forced to sell her home and move in with her parents. She has found another job, but doesn’t make enough to move out. Family, not government, has been everything to her at this time of crisis. She, and they, wouldn’t have it any other way.
Another member of my family left her job at an adoption agency just before the economy crashed. Also a single mother, she has been looking for a way back to a full-time job ever since. She has been selling things on eBay to make ends meet. Friends and family, not government, have been there at the dire moments when she has asked them to be. Again, she, and they, wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is not to say that government doesn’t play a role in their lives. It does and it should. But it isn’t a dominant one, and certainly not an overwhelming factor in their daily existence.
It’s obvious why the president is doing a full-court press for the vote of college-educated women in particular. The Republican primaries probably did turn some women away. Rick Santorum did his party no favors when he spoke about women in combat (“I think that can be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission, because of other types of emotions that are involved”); when he described the birth of a child from rape as “a gift in a very broken way”; and how, if he was president, he would make the case for the damage caused by contraception.
But Mitt Romney will never be confused with Rick Santorum on these issues, and many women understand that. (I should disclose here that my husband is an adviser to Mr. Romney; I have no involvement with any campaign, and have been an independent journalist throughout my career.) The struggling women in my life all laughed when I asked them if contraception or abortion rights would be a major factor in their decision about this election. For them, and for most other women, the economy overwhelms everything else.
Another recent Pew Research Center survey found that voters, when thinking about whom to vote for in the fall, are most concerned about the economy (86 percent) and jobs (84 percent). Near the bottom of the list were some of the hot-button social issues.
Tiffany Dufu, who heads the White House Project, a nonpartisan group aimed at training young women for careers in politics and business, got a similar response when she informally polled young women in her organization. “The issues that have been defined as all women care about are way off — young women feel it has put them further in a box they don’t necessarily want to be in,” she told me. “Independence is what is so important to these women.”
I have always admired President Obama and I agree with him on some issues, like abortion rights. But the promise of his campaign four years ago has given way to something else — a failure to connect with tens of millions of Americans, many of them women, who feel economic opportunity is gone and are losing hope. In an effort to win them back, Mr. Obama is trying too hard. He’s employing a tone that can come across as grating and even condescending. He really ought to drop it. Most women don’t want to be patted on the head or treated as wards of the state. They simply want to be given a chance to succeed based on their talent and skills. To borrow a phrase from our president’s favorite president, Abraham Lincoln, they want “an open field and a fair chance.”
In the second decade of the 21st century, that isn’t asking too much.
Campbell Brown is a former news anchor for CNN and NBC.
Campbell Brown joins a few incredibly courageous liberal women such as Kirsten Powers who were rightly saw the abject hypocritical double-standard (and see also here) that was just getting replayed over and over again. And we may finally be reaching that watershed moment in which feminist women who actually give a damn about WOMEN rather than political ideology have come to realize that nothing meaningful will EVER be done to advance women when the side claiming the women’s mantle are abject hypocrites with constant double standards.
I applaud this courage from women who almost certainly vote Democrat because the only way to ANY true reform of ANYTHING is to take on your own side’s hypocrisy. Take two former Republicans who now live in infamy: Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon. Both went down in flames when their OWN REPUBLICAN PARTY turned on them and said, “You’ve gone too far. We’re done with you.”
In the case of Richard Nixon in particular – six of the Judiciary Committees’ seventeen Republicans sided with the Democrats in voting for impeachment – if Republicans had rigidly stuck by Nixon for the sake of political party or ideology (which is exactly what happened when ZERO Democrats supported impeachment for Bill Clinton who had engaged in such gross behavior and dishonesty that he was disbarred as a lawyer for his absence of ethics) Republicans could have “won” by doing the same thing Democrats would later do. Instead a half dozen Republicans finally said, “This is simply too much. He’s gone too far.”
Here we are at a moment in history in which Obama has clearly gone too far. And Obama has actually done it again and again on issue after issue.
As just one example that ties in with the “war on women” myth, as a result of Obama’s radical “health care” agenda Catholic universities are beginning to drop their health coverage for all students rather than forfeit their religious freedom to practice a theology that they have held for 1,500 years. Is that helping women???
Ave Maria University, one of the Catholic universities that is dropping health coverage for ALL students as a result of Obama’s rabid policies, also pointed out that because of ObamaCare their policies were going to increase between 65 and as much as 82 percent. How in the hell is that helping women???
At some point Democrats are simply going to have to say, “STOP!!! You’ve gone too far!!!” Because otherwise this nation is doomed. And women and the children they love will be hurt more than anybody.
And this ties in to a greater threat that we see in the helpless government-dependent-for-life Julia that Obama has fabricated. I would argue that Catholic universities getting out of providing assistance and the greater issue of all Christian churches and parachurch organizations being driven out of providing services for the poor is exactly what Obama wants in his “fundamental transformation” of America. He wants them out because he dreams of an America in which government is the ONLY provider of help and the ONLY savior. Will that help women???
A few courageous liberal feminists are recognizing that the Democrat Party under Barack Obama is a rhetoric machine that relies exclusively on demonization of the “other side” rather than doing anything whatsoever to build any kind of consensus for genuine reform of anything. And the Democrat Party and liberal mantra from “feminists” has been to support abject liberal misogyny to advance political ideology for the sake of political ideology in some faint hope that the same hypocrites will change things for women. And they won’t because it’s all built on lies and words rather than substance.
I’ve never met a Republican yet who didn’t have a mother. I’ve never personally ever met a Republican husband who didn’t have a wife. A whopping load of Republican families include daughters. And basically have of all Republicans including half of the staunchest of Republicans are WOMEN. This whole “war on women” argument is so blatantly dishonest and deceitful it is simply unreal.
I call on Democrat women to vote Obama out in November for their own sakes. Because he’s gone too damn far.