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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Other Views

Those ‘uppity women’ who speak their mind

Commentary by Pat Murphy

The timing of potshots by Republican and Democratic figures offer dramatic examples of how men are regarded as manly and women are belittled as uppity when speaking their minds.

Teresa Heinz Kerry put spice into the Democratic convention by blurting at a pestering newspaper reporter, "Shove it!"

Oh, my.

"Arrogant. Impolite," growled CNN’s predictable and loopy Robert Novak, the Republican shill who exposed CIA operative Valerie Plame at the behest of someone in the White House as revenge for her husband’s criticisms.

CNN quickly dug out a 2000 campaign videotape of George W. Bush pointing to New York Times reporter Adam Clymer in a campaign audience and caught on an open mike calling him an "a-- h---," while jolly veep running mate Dick Cheney agreed, "Big time!"

Novak dismissed the Bush-Cheney vulgarity as a private remark between a couple of real guys, just as he shrugged off Cheney’s "F - - - yourself!" outburst at U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy as pent-up manly frustration, but certainly not "impolite" or "arrogant."

Obviously, some men long in the tooth still haven’t gotten over women winning the vote 84 years ago and freed from walking two steps behind men.

The double standard accorded Teresa Heinz Kerry isn’t rare. Both Republican and Democratic women in recent history have been targets of derision and condescension.

The mere sight of Hillary Clinton causes grown men and some "proper" women to sputter in rage—and collapse into frenzied apoplexy when mentioned as a possible future president.

For a sharp tongue and acid retort, Barbara Bush, mother of this president, is feared by family and foe.

Nancy Reagan endured wagging tongues throughout her husband’s presidency for her regal ways and undue influence.

Three women in Jimmy Carter’s presidency created controversy—his peppery, oft-quoted mother, Miss Lillian, his activist wife, Roslynn, and bookish prodigy daughter, Amy.

The Camelot White House’s Jackie Kennedy was the dream of gossip columnists and fashion editors. Lady Bird Johnson was busy championing new environmental laws before it was fashionable.

Pat Nixon, Mamie Eisenhower and Bess Truman were less visible and more traditional, as is Laura Bush, the demure current First Lady.

Betty Ford created gasps when she went public with her chemical addiction.

For controversy, however, none match Eleanor Roosevelt—her newspaper column, "My Day," her World War II global trips, her outspoken support of internationalism, her crusade for women’s rights and racial equality when both were distant hopes—she was an enduring irritant.

Teresa Heinz Kerry is but the latest strong, accomplished woman resented for self-reliance and independent thinking.

If a man spoke five languages, had won the Albert Schweitzer gold medal for humanitarianism, had campaigned against African apartheid, had been a United Nations translator and managed a $500 million foundation, imagine the public esteem and his bright political future.

Those are Ms. Kerry’s credentials. But her refusal to be pushed around is dismissed by an intellectual troglodyte as "arrogant."


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