About that "Gaffe"…?

To begin with, let me preface what follows with several disclaimers. First, I am a registered Republican and have been my entire adult life, even serving in the Reagan Administration. Second, I’m what one might call a “Teddy Roosevelt Republican” and more than a little disenchanted with and appalled by the current Republican “leadership” — which can be better described as “followership of the far right.” Third, I have six very professional daughters and an extremely successful professional wife.

All that said, I’m absolutely disgusted with the media and all the pundits who have hounded and pounced on Hillary Clinton because she questioned an inquiry about what “President Clinton” thought and pointed out that she was the secretary of state, not her husband. Media talking head after media talking head has claimed that this was a gaffe, carelessness, a serious mistake, etc., and even blamed her for distracting from the great health care debate.

Telling the truth — a serious mistake? Are we still mired in the mindset of 1890 where a woman’s opinion means less than her husband’s? Where, when a woman points out the blatantly obvious, it’s a gaffe and a mistake? Where a woman is not allowed to show a certain irritation with such a question? Where an honest response is immediately attributed to being “over-tired”?

The media reaction demonstrates, once again, that even the so-called liberal media, who flaunt their liberalism and their supposed lack of bias, are still imbued with a “liberal” amount of male chauvinism, and some of those who exhibit it are unfortunately women. Yes, the “liberal media” tended to champion Barrack Obama in the last election, but looking at history reveals another story. Black men received the right to vote — however hemmed in that right was by wide-spread prejudice, narrow-minded custom, and outright lawlessness — before women did, and the supposedly more liberal political party of the United States just one year ago decided that a black man was preferable to a white woman as the party nominee for president. The amount of criticism faced by now-Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor in her confirmation process emphasized as much the fact that she was a woman as a Latino, although the feminine aspect was clouded by almost always linking “Latino” and “woman.”

Should it be surprising that women may not reach the same decisions under law as do men, even when they have the same education? We are all products of our backgrounds, genders, educations, and experience. While I don’t agree with all the decisions rendered by Justice Sotomayor, frankly, I don’t agree with all the decisions made by other Justices, either. That divergence of opinion is exactly why the Founding Fathers created a Supreme Court with nine members, not one, or a lesser number, so that differing views could indeed be factored into interpreting the law.[Note: I stand corrected. The original number of justices was five, and then varied from six to five to ten until 1869, when it was fixed at nine, although Franklin Roosevelt tried to add more justices.] And why, exactly, are the decisions made by men automatically assumed to be correct? After all, it was nine men who once affirmed the “constitutional legality” of segregation in Plessy vs. Ferguson, a Supreme Court decision that affirmed segregation and stood almost sixty years in error, a decision by a Court that has had exactly two black jurists and three women in its entire history.

Both history and the events of the past few weeks point out, once again, just how deeply male chauvinism remains embedded in even the supposedly most “liberal” institutions in this, the self-proclaimed land of the free. And the fact that I seem to be one of the few pointing it out is even more depressing.