I work in one of those buildings where there’s a small screen in the elevator that shows quick news blurbs. As I rode down to the first floor today, I saw this blurb:
“After only two years in the House of Representatives, Kirsten Gillibrand is sworn in as New York’s junior Senator.”
Three things struck me when I read it.
First of all, isn’t it amazing how the meme of “inexperience” was so effectively worked into such a short sentence? Everyone who reads it immediately thinks, “Whoa. Only two years? That’s not enough!” This type of negative framing works especially well because Gillibrand is relatively unknown in New York City, and frankly, because Manhattanites think we own the whole damn state and are clueless about the dynamics of electoral life north of the Bronx. In fact, two of my elevator companions, after reading the same blurb I did, immediately started complaining about what a horrible mistake it was to appoint Gillibrand. Mission accomplished, headline writers!
The second thing that struck me was a strong desire to rewrite the blurb to tell a similar truth in a similarly negative way:
“After only two years of Senate experience, Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States.”
The third thing that struck me was, can we please, PLEASE PLEASE fucking stop saying that Caroline Kennedy was felled by sexism?
Good Gawd almighty. Words MEAN THINGS, people.
When Caroline Kennedy first burst on the scene with her palm out, she was treated like an absolute goddess. The national press fell all over themselves to praise every single thing about her – the propaganda and resume inflation would have shamed Pravda.
In other words, she was treated like Barack Obama.
If that’s sexism, then I’m sure Hillary “Fatal Attraction Cankles Nutcracker” Clinton and Sarah “Cunt” Palin would have LOVED to experience it. Even after the would-be Senator “withdrew,” the New Yorker was unable to restrain itself from writing an eight-page puff piece on Sweet Caroline.
No, the negativity towards Caroline was 100% earned. It was only when she started to speak that people realized that perhaps she had never run for office for a damn good reason: She couldn’t hack it. She had no charisma, no policy positions, and said “you know” every five seconds.
If we start yelling and screaming “SEXISM!” every time a woman who is obviously totally and completely NOT READY to do a job is called out for it, then we are not only hypocrites, but we are fools.
We are hypocrites because we screamed for many, many months that Barack Obama was not ready to be President. Was it wrong, or heaven forbid, racist, to question his qualifications? Despite the idiotic claims of the Obots, of course not. ALL POLITICIANS should be thoroughly vetted before being permitted to serve at the public’s pleasure. Yes, this includes those with scary female parts, ladies. Sorry to burst your bubble. And when Caroline withdrew, she had somehow managed to avoid the hurdles most candidates have to go through, male or female – even the smallest ones, like answering questions from the press. She asked that they submit the questions in writing, and they, unfair little sexist meanies that they are, complied with her wishes. Oh, oh, poor Caroline! My tears, they overflow!
We are fools who degrade the meaning of the word “sexism” if we complain that Caroline was actually (gasp!) somewhat mildly vetted, and found unqualified. The shame of our system is not when a candidate like Caroline Kennedy doesn’t make the grade. It’s when a candidate like Barack Obama is not fully vetted before being given the keys to the Oval Office.
And if we could ask her, I’m sure Kirsten “Only Two Years” Gillibrand would heartily agree.