Uh, let's see ... equal pay for women? Yeah, I still don't know what to think about that. (Jim Young/Reuters)
It's been a week since Mitt Romney's campaign was first asked whether he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. While his campaign (eventually) said that he supports equity pay, and his lady surrogates are telling us that of course he supports equal pay, those very same lady surrogates voted against the Ledbetter Act. In fact, the entire Republican Party, with very few exceptions, voted against the act.
A week later, Mitt still can't quite answer the question:
DIANE SAWYER: I want to talk about a couple of issues relating to women. This 19 point difference between you and the president on women. Here are some specific questions. If you were president-- you had been president-- would you have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Law?Given that Mitt Romney has been running on a platform of doing exactly that?running against the "prior law" known as the Affordable Care Act, which he says he plans to repeal when he's (giggle) president?Mitt's assurance that this particular prior law is perfectly safe isn't very reassuring. Back when Mitt was running for various elections in Massachusetts, claiming to be further to the left than Ted Kennedy, he also claimed to support the "prior law" of Roe v. Wade too. But now that Mitt's trying to prove his "severely conservative" credentials, he'd love nothing more than to see that "prior law" thrown out too.
MITT ROMNEY: It's certainly a piece of legislation I have no intend-- intention of changing. I wasn't there three years ago--
DIANE SAWYER: But would you have signed it?
MITT ROMNEY: --so I-- I'm not going to go back and look at all the prior laws and say had I been there which ones would I have supported and signed, but I certainly support equal pay for women and-- and have no intention of changing that law, don't think there's a reason to.
His party is firmly against not only the Ledbetter Act, but against the very concept of equal pay. His buddy in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, just signed a bill to repeal the enforcement part of the state's equal pay law. Meanwhile, in Congress, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would expand the 1963 Equal Pay Act, has been sitting there collecting dust because not a single Republican has signed onto it.
If Mitt Romney wants to assure the lady voters who don't like him that he's not going to get rid of equal pay, the way he plans to get rid of Planned Parenthood, he needs to say it in no uncertain terms. Besides, it's not like he can't shake the Etch A Sketch and take a completely different position tomorrow.
Obama: 50 (45)PPP's Tom Jensen says this is the biggest lead for Obama over Romney in Florida since PPP started polling in 2011. So despite his finally capturing the GOP nomination over Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich?Mitt Romney not only can't close the deal, he's falling further behind.
Romney: 45 (44)
The GOP's problems aren't just at the top of the ticket, either. Their bench in Florida is weak:
We also looked at how four prominent Florida Republicans- Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Allen West, and Rick Scott- might affect the race as Vice Presidential candidates. Only Bush has a positive impact for Romney, bringing the race within three points at 49-46.When the only candidate to give you a boost is a George W. Bush's brother, you know you're in rough shape. Romney's problems stem from an extraordinarily massive gender gap. Romney actually leads among men by 10 points, 53-43. But among women, President Obama has a massive 16-point lead, 55-39. If these kinds of numbers hold, Florida in 2012 may shape up to be almost as close as it was in 2008?when Obama won by 2.5 percent?but with a radically different gender gap. In 2008, the gap was just 1 point?in this survey, it's 26.
Before he cared about women.
(Marvin Gentry/Reuters)After he realized he had a problem with women. (Tim Shaffer/Reuters)One of the advantages of being a conservative like Ramesh Ponnuru is that it's a virtue to ignore reality.
On the day after Rick Santorum dropped out of the race and removed all doubt Romney would be the nominee, the campaign issued five press releases within three hours on the theme that President Barack Obama?s economic record has failed American women: one featuring comments by Romney, four highlighting remarks by female Republican politicians supporting him.It has. Since 1920.
It might be a good strategy, if the women?s vote existed.
The evidence that Romney is lagging in the polls because voters are upset about a ?war on women? -- rather than because of a bruisingly negative primary campaign or the recovering economy -- is pretty thin. But Republicans are responding not just to the polls but to the persistent mythology of the gender gap.Persistent mythology?
Of course, Romney should use female campaign surrogates. (He should especially continue to highlight his wife, Ann, who is likely to wow both men and women.)Figures Ann Romney would give Ponnuru starbursts, but Ann will be as effective in winning women as Sarah Palin before her. Or put another way?just because some dudes at National Review think a Republican female is dreamy, doesn't mean the ladies are just as smitten.
It?s a mistake for Romney to think he has a special problem with women, or that he can solve it by making a gender-specific appeal.How can anyone say that there's no "special problem" with a demographic, when you're losing it by 20 points? On the other hand, Punnuru is right that Romney can't bridge the gender gap by making any gender-specific appeals.
Fact is, any gender-specific appeal Romney could possibly make would inflame the conservative base. They won't tolerate apostasy from their standard bearer in their War on Women. So Punnuru is right about that, why bother trying?
Republicans deserve credit for resisting the idea -- the lazy instinct, really -- that what female voters care most about are stereotypically ?women?s issues.?Women issues like, you know, access to health care, family leave so, you know, they can be with their families during times of need, the choice to stay home with your kids even if your husband isn't Mitt Romney, equal pay for equal work, not calling them sluts because they want access to birth control, etc, etc, etc. (And no, Ann, "debt legacy" isn't one of those issues.)
And how do we know women actually care about those issues? Because the polling tells us so. Look what pollsters found after the Rush Limbaugh Slutgate fiasco. USA Today:
The biggest change came among women under 50. In mid-February, just under half of those voters supported Obama. Now more than six in 10 do while Romney's support among them has dropped by 14 points, to 30%. The president leads him 2-1 in this group.And ABC:
White women, in particular, have shifted in Obama?s direction since the last ABC/Post poll March 10. Among registered voters, white women then favored Romney over Obama by 55-38 percent; today they divide evenly, 47-48 percent. Preferences among white men, by contrast, are essentially unchanged, at 61-35 percent for Romney now, 63-33 percent a month ago.And if anyone wondered whether the Hillary Rosen (who?) kerfuffle from last week had any impact on the gender gap, the answer is no. Heck, the latest PPP poll from Florida shows Obama winning Sunshine State women 55-39.
The dilemma for Romney isn't whether to take Ponnuru's advice or not. It's that he has no choice but to do so.
Among Mitt Romney's supposed-to-be-secret comments at a high-dollar Florida fundraiser Sunday evening was some information about his plans for the Department of Education, and it turns out that, given the lemons of a Department of Education, he'd make the lemonade of union-busting:
"The Department of Education: I will either consolidate with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller. I'm not going to get rid of it entirely," Romney said, explaining that part of his reasoning behind preserving the agency was to maintain a federal role in pushing back against teachers' unions. Romney added that he learned in his 1994 campaign for Senate that proposing to eliminate the agency was politically volatile.Once bitten by Sen. Ted Kennedy's 1994 ad reminding people that they like the Education Department, that it does good things for their kids, two decades shy of proposing to outright eliminate it, apparently. Unfortunately for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it wasn't an issue in Romney's 1994 election, so it would be fully on the chopping block in a Romney presidency.
Teachers unions, obviously, are not amused:
"If all he wants to do is use the Department of Education to go after unions -- then he?s clearly not interested in using it to help kids," Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers said in a statement. "How does it help kids when Romney wants to use the federal government to undermine teachers and their unions? Romney is out of touch. He doesn't get it."
I didn?t get to watch the premiere of HBO?s new series Girls before witnessing the amazing amount of hype that managed to create a backlash before the show even aired. Having now watched it, I really wish I could have gone back in time and done so without reading so much about what the show says about TV, women, Brooklyn, education, the economy, and sex. I think I would have liked it more being free to watch it as I do shows about a group of male characters?a show about unique people doing stuff and being relatable because they are individuals.
This is not to say that the pressure put on Girls as an emissary of single women has been all bad. It?s opened up discussions about the lack of racial diversity on television in a way that shows about white men seem to resist. But overall, the burden placed on this single show has been frustrating, especially when it comes to representations of sex. That one character has soulless, delusional sex with a guy who doesn?t share her expectations about the relationship has instigated articles in The New York Times and The New Yorker bemoaning the sexual revolution and the supposed failures of feminism. Another character considering dumping her infantilizing boyfriend has already given Katie Roiphe another shot at her lifelong project of declaring feminist demands for egalitarian relationships a failure, because women just don?t like nice guys. (The possibility that a man could be nice to you without baby-talking never occurs to the concern trolls of feminism.)
Of course, on Louie?the show that non-sexists can see inspired Girls far more than Sex and the City ever could?you also have a main character who, just like Hannah on Girls, keeps having really bad sex for inscrutable reasons and only longs for someone who sends strong signals of disinterest. So far, I have yet to see a single article arguing that the bad sex and broken hearts on Louie suggest that modernity has failed men in their forties. Louie is a male character, and that means he can stand for himself. The audience doesn?t need him to have our exact personalities, sexual choices, and view of relationships to find him entertaining and relatable.
So why is there the expectation of this for Girls? It?s tempting to blame the lack of female characters on TV, which would definitely increase the need for the ones that slip through to stand in for Everywoman. The problem with that theory is that while women are far from reaching parity on TV, many fully fleshed-out female sitcom characters exist without having to becomes symbols of their generation. Liz Lemon isn?t expected to be an Every TV Writer, much less an Everywoman. Leslie Knope is beloved for being an oddball. Britta on Community has never once inspired an essay lamenting the promiscuity of the younger generation. Two Broke Girls has a very similar setup to Girls (they both kick off with a young, spoiled Brooklyn woman getting cut off from her parents) and even has the same creator as Sex and the City, but no one looks to its characters as the standard-bearers for their generation. Really, we haven?t seen such inflated expectations on a female-centric show since Sex and the City.
Even though Girls and Sex and the City really don?t have much in common, they do have one thing that all these other shows don?t have: The female characters aren?t under direct male supervision. It seems that if a TV writer wants a prophylactic shielding for her characters from ?voice of a generation? expectations, the quickest way to do it is to put that character in a subservient position to a man. Liz Lemon and Leslie Knope both work under lovable curmudgeons, Britta is second banana to Jeff, and the two broke girls answer to a male boss.
Giving a female lead a man to look over her is in fact, one of the longest-standing sitcom traditions there is, going back to I Love Lucy. TV creators only tweaked the formula a bit for single women. Mary Richards, the first single career woman to hold down her own show on TV, had Lou Grant standing over her, creating the mold for all never-married urban female characters after.
Except, of course, for Sex and the City and now Girls. It seems that once you remove the reassuring figure standing in for patriarchal authority, the levels of audience anxiety about what this all means for women expand dramatically. Suddenly it?s not enough for the characters to be characters. Now they must be role models, to assuage lingering fears about what it means to release single women into the world without male authority to protect and guide them. So when these characters make mistakes or even just make choices that differ from exactly what the audience members feel they would, it?s felt keenly.
Can Girls break the mold, allowing audiences to learn how to watch female characters just be, without having to be perfectly self-actualized? The marketing push of HBO certainly suggests the network brass thinks so. Now it?s time to lay back and see if audiences are truly ready yet.
When Rep. Paul Ryan said that top military brass was lying to Congress, insisting that the generals didn't give Congress their "true advice" about the proposed defense budget, he exposed a rift between the Pentagon and congressional Republicans that has prompted Kevin Baron of the National Journal to issue a challenge:
If the senior-most Republican in the Senate knows of dissenters in the senior ranks, it's time to produce them. Put them on the witness stand and roll tape. Under the protection of giving their "best military advice," heretofore silent dissenters should tell the public why they oppose what the administration has put forth. This is national security, after all, and the nation is at war. McConnell?s and Ryan's offices didn?t respond to queries, and conservative surrogates wouldn't name names.And while Ryan and the Republican leadership continue to insist?with no evidence?that the military wants a larger share of the budget, Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz says:
"I'm not sure to whom [McConnell and Ryan] are talking, but I can tell you with certainty, it isn't the Joint Chiefs.?Republicans are taking on the Pentagon, directly challenging the generals and calling them liars, for a political tool to use against President Obama. I'm old enough to remember when John Boehner would have said something like this was "character assassination" and "disrespectful and downright reprehensible."
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, who has embraced all things Paul Ryan, is silent. But he'll certainly say something about this besmirching of the nation's top generals ... as soon as he figures out which direction to shake his Etch A Sketch.
Most of TPM's DC bureau decamped to the roof this morning to watch the Space Shuttle Discovery do a series of flyovers as it made its way, piggybacked on a 747, to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum. Pretty cool pics. [...]
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We may then be especially drawn to this particular romanticized, erotically charged, semipornographic idea of female submission at a moment in history when male dominance is shakier than it has ever been. – Spanking Goes Mainstream, by Katie Roiphe
If women are drawn to “semipornographic idea of female submission,” it has absolutely nothing to do with the shaky nature of male dominance, because as precarious as their position is men still rule.
Happy Equal Pay day, with the Newsweek cover kerfuffle coming on a backdrop of a working girl in Columbia’s legal sex trade taking down the most elite escort of them all, the Secret Service, as well as Special Forces men.
Katie Roiphe, who rose to infamy through blaming women for their own rape, writes a column about the guilty pleasure reading of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, inciting feminist writers across new media to descend in derision.
Saddled with the dinosaur Newsweek brand, Tina Brown is doing her best to give it a heart beat again, though who knows if it will work. She certainly has hit a nerve with Roiphe’s piece. It’s not sin to get column bombed, as long as people don’t ignore you. Brown’s made a career out of it.
It is intriguing that huge numbers of women are eagerly consuming myriad and disparate fantasies of submission at a moment when women are ascendant in the workplace, when they make up almost 60 percent of college students, when they are close to surpassing men as breadwinners, with four in 10 working women now outearning their husbands, when the majority of women under 30 are having and supporting children on their own, a moment when?in hard economic terms?women are less dependent or subjugated than before.
I’ve done some digging around in the sex and relationship genre, including the seamier sides of sexuality in the mainstream adult world. I say “mainstream,” because I never had the stomach for hard core, so the notion of “mommy porn” intrigued me, even though I’ve barely cracked Fifty Shades of Grey.
One of the things that was easily uncovered is the penchant powerful men have to be sexually dominated in their off hours. I talked to dominatrixes whose only clients were big shot lawyers, as well as Hollywood studio moguls, as well as men who freely admitted their proclivities to surrender. In fact, I created and guided the first “alternative” section of personal ads for the LA Weekly, which was filled with dominatrixes advertising for.. ahem.. partners, shall we say. I helped these women craft the language of their sexual art so they could attract men with money who wanted what they delivered. Back in the mid-90s this was big business, because the web hadn’t exploded yet.
The American Prospect gets one thing right, through an “insider source”:
Katie Roiphe?yes, she who believes that date rape is nothing more than rough sex?has bravely decided that we?re so tired of being in charge, of our success, working gals all wanna be whipped. Somebody tell dominatrixes, who are making a mint off the high-powered men who really are in charge and do long to be whipped, or so I?ve been told by insider source…
The UK Guardian comes up with this review of Tina Brown’s efforts:
This is all purely nonsense conjured up by cynical editors to get women readers to argue among themselves and to distract them from the paucity of what else the magazine has to offer.
Considering 50% of marriages end in divorce and more single people are preferring to remain that way, I’d say there is a lot of evidence to prove that understanding attraction, sex and relationships in the 21st century is very much on women’s minds, even if men have been left confused about what it all means for a man who wants a wife and family.
Women have changed but men have not. That’s the story at the bottom of the relationship rubble. It’s the updated version of being attracted to a man for what you think you can make him become rather than who he actually is.
Romance novels had to go somewhere beyond the angst and savage dissatisfaction once women started becoming breadwinners. We don’t want what men want when it comes to erotic encounters, but it’s not so odd to think some things in sexuality are the same between us. The more power you get in your work life, the freer you become to own your previously held secret passions, acting on them no matter what stereotype it brings to your feminist mind.
For all the attention, Katie Roiphe, Tina Brown thanks you, even if you don’t quite get the subject you’re writing about.
We’re all suckers for sex, with a purposefully provocative picture of a woman in bondage predictably drawing the attention of feminists, especially when the writer of the piece has a history of pissing off women for not owning their own rape.
It is the passive sexual role that threatens us still, and it is the denial of female sexual agency that threatens to propel us backward. – Katie Roiphe, 1993
Women can’t go back even if some want to and Western women are not threatened in any new way, except through our own disgruntled discontent.
What Roiphe doesn’t know that I bet Tina Brown does is that choosing a submissive role is empowering for women today. We no longer have anything to prove or any inhibitions that threaten our attractiveness to a man, because we don’t need his money anymore.
I can only imagine what Katie Roiphe thought of “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
The right to bear arms comes from our creator, not our government,? Gingrich said. The NRA ?has been too timid? in promoting its agenda beyond American borders. The Bill of Rights was not written only for Americans, he said. ?It is a universal document.?Gingrich has a point. Where do Americans get off being so arrogant as to think we own the patent on the God-given right to enable the massacre of our children in schools?
?A Gingrich presidency will submit to the UN a treaty that extends the right to bear arms as a human right to every person on the planet.? Every world citizen, he said, ?deserves the right to defend themselves from those who exploit, imprison, or kill them.? For his latest big idea, Gingrich earned a standing ovation from the crowd of roughly 5,000.
?We don?t need to go across the planet trying to impose American values, but we do need to go across the planet spreading human values,? Gingrich said. ?The Second Amendment is a right for all mankind.? [emphasis added]
I am happy to take on the job of teaching David Brooks about the budget so that he does not consistently embarrass himself in his NYT columns. Today he is trying to give us a balanced assessment of President Obama's case for his budget. Here's what he[...]
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