Monday, July 20, 2009


Just a year ago, right-wing pundit Kathleen Parker published an entire book devoted to the proposition that we as a society must "save the males." In a National Review interview at the time of the book's publication, she sneered at feminists:

During the last 30 years or so, as feminism has reached most of the goals of equality (except of course for that coveted membership in the Augusta National Golf Club), women have become hostile toward men and maleness in what seems to be a spirit of retributive justice. Our boys will now pay for all the sins committed by the worst men throughout history. That hardly seems fair -- and we know that feminism only aims to be fair, right? [Save the Males] aims to shine a light on all the ways our culture degrades and disrespects males and suggests that women might drop their torches and pitchforks for the sake of sanity and the little ones.

That was then. Here's Kathleen Parker in yesterday's Washington Post:

Followers of Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court confirmation hearings were witness to a now-familiar phenomenon. Women are treated differently than men in such settings.

To wit: Questions posed to Sotomayor about her temperament -- is she a bully? -- probably wouldn't be posed to a similarly qualified man.

Judicial temperament is a legitimate concern, of course. But watching Sotomayor take questions about her moods from the nearly all-male Senate Judiciary Committee, one couldn't help wondering how those same fellows would hold up under similar scrutiny while a roomful of women took aim at their ... fortitude. Obviously, we're talking about Republican chaps. Democrats were practically tossing raiment over puddles as they lobbed lovin

... Here's what women hear when men ask a female candidate about her temperament: "Are you really the bitch everybody says you are?" ...

Wow, that's a switch.

Oh, and Parker is also the columnist who, a little over a year ago, gave credence to a voter's claim that Barack Obama wasn't a "full-blooded American" and questioned whether Obama could be sufficiently patriotic, at least compared with "those who trace their bloodlines back through generations of sacrifice." She wrote,

It’s about blood equity, heritage and commitment to hard-won American values. And roots.

Now, in reference to Sotomayor, she writes,

Senators also hammered Sotomayor about her ethnic identification and whether she could rule fairly without undue influence from her gender or political preferences. Wait, let me guess, you're white guys! Are we to infer that men of European descent are never unduly influenced by their own ethnicity, gender or political preferences? Can anyone affirm this assertion with a straight face?

GOP senators: I know she rejected Sarah Palin a long time ago, but if you've lost Kathleen Parker on the issues of gender and ethnicity, you've got serious problems.

But am I wrong to wish a significant number of actual Democrats were talking like this? It seems to me that during the Alito hearings the GOP was pretty good at getting the base fired up:

Supporters of Judge Samuel Alito are condemning what they consider unfair attacks on the Supreme Court nominee -- attacks that distressed his wife to the point of tears on Wednesday.

"Having failed to distort Judge Alito's distinguished record on the bench, today Senator Kennedy tried to smear Sam Alito's character," Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said in a press release.

"Throughout his career, Samuel Alito has proven his commitment to the highest ethical principles and a fair and just America. This good man does not need a lecture from Ted Kennedy," Mehlman added....

Former Reagan administration Attorney General Ed Meese described the Democrats' attacks on Alito as "despicable" -- "a shameful performance."

In a podcast interview with Fidelis, a Catholic-based organization that defends and promote the sanctity of life, marriage, and religious liberty, Meese singled out Sen. Ted Kennedy's repeated questions about Alito's failure to recuse himself in a Vanguard case.

"It is totally hypocritical and false for anybody like Senator Kennedy, of all people, to question anyone's ethics, in view of his own past background," Meese said, adding that the American Bar Association's rating of well-qualified "says it all about Alito." ...

And, of course:

The wife of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito left his confirmation hearings in tears Wednesday.

Martha-Ann Bomgardner, who had sat behind her husband for hours of questioning over several days, left as her husband was being questioned by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

"Are you really a closet bigot?" Graham asked Alito. The nominee said no, and Graham said, "No sir, you’re not."

...Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah suggested that she was upset with the questioning from Democrats. "She's sick and tired of the mistreatment of her husband," Hatch said...

Maybe the hearings themselves were enough, and there's no need to add to what people saw and pundits wrote. But it seems to me that Democrats are afraid to say that Republicans said or did anything outrageous. Why not? If Kathleen Parker can describe the GOP in these hearings as sexist and racist, why can't Democrats? Why can't Democratic pols try writing the narrative of a political event for a change, the way Republican pols wrote the narrative of the Alito hearings?

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