Not a Good Sunday for Women

I'll be surprised if McCain doesn't pick a woman. I've long speculated before that such a move would make good sense as McCain seeks to appeal to swing voters.
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In another veepstakes edition of "Meet the Press," a roundtable composed of two men and two women offered no bets by anybody on a woman vice presidential candidate. PBS's Judy Woodruff said Barack Obama's pick would be either Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine or Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh. NBC's Andrea Mitchell thought maybe Jack Reed, the senator from Rhode Island, but more likely Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) or Bayh. For John McCain's pick, Mitchell said she thought the GOP nominee apparent was stuck with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Republican strategist Mike Murphy said he thought Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. NBC political director Chuck Todd had the good sense to pick "none of the above," though he suggested through his choice of pronouns that it would be a guy.

As for me, I'll be surprised if McCain doesn't pick a woman. I've long speculated before that such a move would make good sense as McCain seeks to appeal to swing voters -- especially those women who may be disinclined to vote for Obama for reasons of race, age or his defeat of Hillary Clinton in the primaries. And if Obama picks his veep before McCain does, and Obama picks a man, I'd be willing to put money on the prospect of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, or a different woman, being added to the McCain ticket. (The name of the pro-life, pro-ANWAR-drilling Palin had been floated, but since her state legislature this launched a probe into whether or not she tried to get her ex-brother-in-law fired from his job as a state trooper, a lot of bets are off.)

McCain may simply be threatening to announce his veep choice this week in order to play with the Obama campaign. Frankly, I find it more likely that McCain will hold off, and see what Obama does. If Obama announces first and his veep pick is a man, then McCain's will almost certainly be a woman. If for no other reason than that (like doing the right thing), Obama should choose a woman as his running mate.

In another bad moment for women, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd today bashed Hillary Clinton supporters for wanting to add to the Democratic platform a plank addressing the "pervasive gender bias in the media" exposed during the Democratic primaries, including a demand that party leaders denounce future examples of such bias. Dowd calls the proposal an attempt to "enshrine a whine."

Then she offers this:

Perhaps it is because feminists are still so busy cataloging past slights to Hillary that they have failed to mount a vivid defense of Michelle Obama, who has taken over from Hillary as the one conservatives like to paint as a harridan.

Where to begin?

First of all, Michelle Obama certainly has her defenders among feminists, such as Carol Jenkins of the Women's Media Center.

Secondly, Dowd makes the same mistake that some of Hillary Clinton's women supporters make: that to support Clinton is to be a feminist; to support Obama is not to be a feminist. This is patently ridiculous. (In truth, Dowd likely knows better; she just finds the feminists-only-vote-Hillary claims of Clinton's supporters to be a convenient untruth.)

Supporting Hillary Clinton does not make one a feminist. One need only look at the refusal of Jill Iscol, a Clinton fundraiser, to support any woman other than Clinton as a veep candidate to see there's also some anti-feminism at work among a few of Clinton's female supporters. A female veep would do more to put a woman in the pipeline for the presidency than any other move. And Hillary Clinton's husband has made it impossible to name her as vice president. Still, a few holdouts would like to put the kaibosh on the chances for another woman to fill that slot. That's a cult of personality -- not feminism.


Other "Meet the Press" news: Appearing as a McCain surrogate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) proved to be as thoroughly obnoxious as Obama surrogate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) proved ineffective. Kerry continued to advance the Obama campaign's line that his line about not looking like "all those other presidents on the dollar bills" wasn't about race. This is just silly.

More from the New York Times op-ed page: In a fascinating account of the Olympics and teh politics of gender, Jennifer Finney Boylan writes about China's gender tests to prove the femaleness of female athletes.

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