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Tough Broads

Noemie Emery writes an interesting column today considering the vitriol on the left for Liz Cheney and her project, Keep America Safe.  With a notable twist of an irony coated blade, Emery advises the purveyors of hate on the left to "get over" their fear of strong women--particularly when the objects of their fear are attractive, young, center-right mothers of more children than the priests on the left believe it to be rational to birth in these ecologically-challenged times.  But Emery also argues that for all her similarities to Sarah Palin, Cheney is capable of drawing out a special and a harder sort of hatred from the left than Palin ever could.  Why?  Precisely because Cheney, while sharing most of Sarah Palin's substantive ideas and an equal share of ambition, is not vulnerable on the superficial grounds where lefties drew blood from Palin.  "Saturday Night Live would have a hard time getting her number," Emery says. Further, "Moms from McLean could be her constituents."  And therein, lies the root of the problem for lefties. 

Their friends and neighbors--if they aren't already committed lefties--would be hard-pressed to discover something vicious or dangerous in Liz Cheney; in part because they could not even begin with an assumption that there is anything particularly weird or different about her.   She is the citified answer to the Western/Midwestern voter's love affair with Sarah Palin.  You cannot attribute Cheney's politics to the culture of moose-hunting or dog-sledding.  She shows that it is possible to arrive at these views via routes more familiar to the typical urban/suburban voter. 

As to the question of possible misogyny . . . I wouldn't lose any sleep about it if I were Liz Cheney (or Sarah Palin, for that matter).  No doubt there is a certain element of it here (just as there undoubtedly is with Mrs. Clinton coming from our side) but it only serves to show the amusing and uncomfortable way that the shoe fits when on the other foot.  I would suggest that this episode demonstrates--beyond question--that if there is an instinct to be inclined to dislike strong and powerful women, it is very much a part of the human condition and not anything particular to the left or to the right in politics.  And, I'd also add, that it is nothing that need be addressed by those who imagine they can even the great scales of sexual justice in the sky.  Tough broads in politics (like Cheney, Palin, and Clinton--to say nothing of Thatcher and her generation) have always demonstrated that they can handle the slings and arrows of political fortune and misfortune without the intervention of the gender crusaders.  As for their more timid sisters . . . well, this is no more the game for them than it is for the men who most fear these tough women.      
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Discussions - 3 Comments

Great post! I agree that, as George Gilder once wrote, the "sexual constitution" is natural to human beings and "will always come back." (Horace) Women will always have to work harder than men in a "man's world," not because it was "constructed" by neanderthals but because we are "made that way." There are exceptions to every rule, of course, of which the "strong woman" is clearly one. "Politics ain't beanbag," as some Democratic pol long ago observed, so it is not surprising that most women avoid it. (So do a lot of men.) That women who disagree with one are especially unwelcome is supported by the Pailin defamation and the puzzlement at what to make of or to do with Liz Cheney, who looks like a modern woman more than Pailan.

I can still remember a lady Democrat who was secretary to the president at the college where I worked who could not vote for Mondale in 1984 because "that woman" Geraldine Ferraro was on the ticket!

This also reminds me of the time at a Claremont Institute panel at an APSA convention Prof.Thomas West gently chided a critic of feminist hypocrisy by reminding him that feminists are women after all and expected to be treated as such--which evidently even feminism can't repeal, and certainly not conservatism.

"She is the citified answer to the Western/Midwestern voter's love affair with Sarah Palin. You cannot attribute Cheney's politics to the culture of moose-hunting or dog-sledding. She shows that it is possible to arrive at these views via routes more familiar to the typical urban/suburban voter."

Palin's fans don't just come from the west and midwest. She has solid support from the fringe right across the United States - not least in the south!
As for Cheney being "citified," well, in her case, isn't she just the spawn of an ultimate "Beltway insider" establishmentarian, daddy Dick? Not that I think that should make her ineligible for debating whatever issue, but that is very likely to compromise her credibility among many Sarah fans.

As for liberals and lefties disliking her for having kids or being a woman, please, give it a rest already. It's about the issues and/or overall ideology. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe aren't going to be facing much "vitriol" from the left anytime soon (although I think your definition of vitriol must be pretty tame), I think.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marie-wilson/the-gathering-storm-of-re_b_321149.html

"Tough broads in politics (like Cheney, Palin, and Clinton--to say nothing of Thatcher and her generation) have always demonstrated that they can handle the slings and arrows of political fortune and misfortune without the intervention of the gender crusaders."

Hilarious. Did you get that from Ann Coulter (who has openly questioned whether women should be allowed to vote or not) or what? Who has expressed surprise that those women can "handle the slings and arrows of political fortune without the intervention of the gender crusaders"? It is funny you say that about Liz though - a woman who worked during '03 in the "W Stands for Women" initiative to target female voters.

By the time any of those women that you mentioned dipped their toes into the political waters, the "gender crusaders" had already finished most of the heavy lifting for them, so they only needed to succeed or fail on their own merits. I welcome Palin or Liz Cheney to take a stab at it - or another stab, as the case may be.

At this point, I would just like to see Liz debate Rachel Maddow on anything of substance - so far, she's backed away from that challenge (Is she not such a "tough broad", after all?) and retreated to the warm embrace of Fox "News":
http://rawstory.com/2009/10/maddow-challenges-liz-cheney/

I also find your use of the term "broads" to be amusing.

Having seen her speak and having spoken with her briefly aftewards, I am impressed. She did not deny political ambitions.

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