Monday, June 14, 2010

Women!

What continues to give oxygen to the non-story of Carla Fiorina poking fun at the hair style worn by California U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer?

And where in the world is the same oxygen coming from to provide interest in the "did Sarah Palin have breast implant surgery" story?

Are we really this vacuous as a country that the hair style and chest of two female politicians is actually worth our time and attention? If we're going to take the time to discuss the merits and assets of women in the political arena, then let's consider this story from The New York Times. It offers an important examination of how Nikki Haley, who almost certainly will be South Carolina's next governor, has had to adjust her personal background to be palatable to her constituents.

Then let's consider this excerpt (appearing on Mike Allen's Daily Playbook) from a Politico.com report examining how often female politicians appear on the Sunday television talk shows:

'According to American University's Women & Politics Institute, female lawmakers have composed 13.5 percent of the total Sunday show appearances by all representatives and senators this year... Some academic researchers and press secretaries for women in Congress say the network bookers have a men-in-suits mind-set that leads to familiar faces appearing over and over ... The shows' producers bridle at the criticism, saying that, despite their strong interest in booking more women, the shows must be topical and reflect the reality that men still hold more of the most influential and newsmaking positions in Congress. And they say some congressional women - Nancy Pelosi chief among them - do not help the cause by making themselves so difficult to book. Most producers say they try to recruit female lawmakers nearly every weekend but receive a steady stream of rejection slips. 'I've probably asked her 25 times. She is just unwilling to do it,' Betsy Fischer, executive producer of NBC's 'Meet the Press.' [Pelosi prefers to tape interviews in her office, and 'Meet' wants guests on-set.] ... Women make up 17 percent of the membership of the House and Senate ... Thus far this year, the five major Sunday shows -- NBC's 'Meet the Press,' 'Fox News Sunday,' CBS's 'Face the Nation,' ABC's 'This Week,' and CNN's 'State of the Union' -- have had 148 appearances by congressional lawmakers. Of those, 128 were men and 20 were women.'

My point is simple -- hair styles and breasts are irrelevant in helping us determine the merits of the women who aspire to be political leaders. Let's make our substantive comments about their policies and plans, not their figures.

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