So What? Are we really this thin-skinned?

Governor Ed Rendell (D) of Pennsylvania

Governor Ed Rendell (D) of Pennsylvania

So Governor Ed Rendell (D) of PA commented on the suitability of Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security Secretary.  His exact comments were as follows:  “Janet’s perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19-20 hours a day to it.”  I have to ask, what is wrong with these comments?  He is correct and the same would apply even if the selection had been a man.  Had the governor made this comment about a male nominee, no one would have noticed.  If five minutes later, he made the same comments about a female nominee the reaction would have been the same.  No one would have dismissed the second comment based on the first nor would his first comments have even been recorded or noticed.  What am I saying?  I believe some people enjoy being offended and love the attention and publicity they receive in doing so in the press.

(Later, I want to point out how the press neglected to note Rendell’s political affiliation in their reports.  I suspect the stories would have been written very differently had Rendell been a Republican rather than a Democrat.  More on that later.)

Campbell Brown of CNN's No Bias, No Bull

Campbell Brown of CNN's No Bias, No Bull

CNN’s lovely Campbell Brown nearly coughed up a hairball in her reaction.  (Believe me I have 5 cats and I know the reaction to which I am referring.)  Her reaction was echoed around newsrooms across the nation.  The Governor’s comments were accepted as “insulting” without question or any application of common sense.  Ms. Brown brings up 3 points to support her claim of sexism.  I will try to address each of those points.

1-Brown: No one would make this comment regarding a man because for a man there is always a woman to fill in during his absence.

Idiot: False.  I have been told during interviews, “This job requires extensive hours (or extensive travel).  Are you prepared to be separated from your family for extended periods of time?”  This has actually been said to me in at least 2 interviews.  I had a wife at home and three children.  Extended hours and travel stress marriages and often result in divorce.  I think such stress is distracting for anyone but women tend, as a whole to be less compartmentalized than men and more attached to their children.  To illustrate this point, (because I know many people will roll their eyes and claim I am being sexist here), within 3 years of divorce 20% of father cease regular contact with their children, while mother have more frequent contact and are much less likely to discontinue contact, (Robert Hughes, Jr., Ph.D.)

2-Brown: As a woman, Brown wonders if women are not excluded from certain jobs due to family concerns.

Idiot: I don’t think this point really justifies offense but it is a reasonable concern.  However, women are no more excluded than anyone with a family.  In government work, especially at the level of a cabinet position, any family concerns have already been demonstrated.  More simply put, you don’t get to the point of being considered for a cabinet position or running for governor or president without having already made this sacrifice.  It’s not like this is going to be a huge lifestyle change.

3-Brown: The comments make her wonder if single childless women might be more inclined to get the less desirable shift/jobs.

Idiot: Ah single women and single men.  I have witnessed managers weighing who will work on Christmas day.  They rule out family men and women right away.  Then men and women in relationships are accommodated.  If there are any single unattached employees, yes they get, er for lack of a better word, screwed.

Rather than making a sexist demeaning comment, I believe, Rendell was simply making the same off-the-cuff observation I have heard applied to supervisors, GMs, and CEOs.  I’m defending Rendell as a fellow man.  It seems to me, men are under seige by women looking to be offended.  The same is true of whites and Christians, (although the offended are not exclusively women.)  Our nation has developed an annoyingly ultra thin skin.  I, for one, am tired of it and think it’s pure idiocy.  When men, Christians, or caucasians are offended there are no apologies or for that matter there is no news coverage at all.

I want to end with a related aside.  Why is it that when Republican politicians make a faux pas the headline or first sentence, nearly always include the offender’s party information, such as this LA Times article on Ted Stevens.  The very first sentence reads, “Sen. Ted Stevens, Republican of Alaska…”  Or this AP story’s opening sentence, ” ‘Uncle Ted’ Stevens, an old-style Senate giant and the chamber’s longest-serving Republican…”

What happens when it is a Democrat who utters the faux pas.  In the LA Times the story appears for a few hours and quickly cannot be found.  For example, the Gov. Rendell story is nearly impossible to find today.  I searched extensively for the story and while I could pull up the description; the actual story cannot be found.  Instead, all I could find was a link to an blog.  In this blog, the word “Democrat” only appears in the tag, it does not appear in the blog article itself.  Similarly, the Associated Press has no available articles on Rendell’s comments.  CBS news covered the story, only identifying Rendell as a Democrat when his name super appears during his apology/explanation.

I could be wrong, but I never fail to notice that prominate “Republican” label anytime the story is negative for a Republican.  Conversely, I never or rarely, see that “Democrat” label when the story is negative for a Democrat.

I’m offended!

  1. Well, fortunately there is no monopoly by either party on stupidity. There is no question that it was a stupid comment, but sexist? I mean, I hope no job requires so much of a person that they can have no other outside interests (with the possible exception of President). Everyone needs to get away and unwind or they simply won’t be able to do their job properly. But, I think that same stupid comment could apply to anyone regardless of gender. If you really want to say that a job is so demanding that they shouldn’t expect to have time for family or friends, doesn’t everyone have family and friends? Anyway, if Gov. Rendell is a sexist, it will show up in much more obvious ways than this. It does however smack of the kind of comments we heard about Gov. Palin. People were asking how she could be Vice President (or God forbid, President!) with 4 children and a special needs infant.

    As far as the press coverage goes . . . come on Idiot! You of all people shouldn’t be surprised about the kind of coverage Dems get over Reps. We watched the absolute dismantling of Trent Lott for a kindly word given to an old and dying man at his birthday party. Was it a stupid comment? Sure. Did it require the kind of nonstop coverage and (to quote another great conservative) “high-tech lynching” that he received?!? NO!! Robert Byrd (yes, that’s Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WV, the former KKK Grand Wizard) can get on national television and talk about “white nig***s” and no one bats an eye. Of course he apologized and everyone moved on. This is clearly not an isolated incident, even when it comes to far less offensive gaffes. Obama made MANY gaffes during the election (as I detailed in my Obama gaffes blog) but hardly anyone made any note.

    But of course there is no liberal bias in the media. Certainly not!

  2. You be surprised how many people miss subtle expressions of bias we see in the media and thus my observation. Naturally I see this all the time but not everyone does.

    As for the Gov., I don’t even think the comment was stupid. And there are jobs out there where they expect you to work 24/7 and don’t give a damn about your family or if you live or die. There are some in my company and I know some of them. I’ve even been discriminated from getting some of them. In hindsight I’m glad to have been so discriminated against. I felt Lott’s comments in a different league. Innocent enough but far to controversial a subject.

    It is interesting that when applied to Palin these comments were “valid concerns” but when applied to a Democrat woman they are sexist. Where was Campbell Brown’s outrage a few months ago?

  3. I can tell you the first time I became convinced of media bias was when, in 1992, President Bush was running for reelection. My hometown newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times, ran pictures of the two candidates on the front page as part of their campaign coverage just a few days before the election. Bill Clinton was waving and smiling, the sun was shining on him, he looked GREAT! The pic of Bush was as he was just stepping off Air Force One, He was ducking down to get through the doorway so he was hunched over, the wind was blowing his hair straight up and he had a sort of angry look on his face (I’d be angry too if someone took my picture when I looked like that). He looked like the image Clinton had been trying to portray him as: old and tired.

    It occurred to me at that moment that at some point during the same day, I am sure Bush had been smiling and waving. He was campaigning! That’s most of what they do! Conversely, I”m sure that Clinton had gotten off an airplane and had the wind blow his hair, or maybe made a funny face. It was clear to me in that instant that there was a lot more bias in something as simple as choosing what picture to put on the front page than I had ever imagined.

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