So What? Are we really this thin-skinned?
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.)
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 ABC.com 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.