Well, what do you know? After a few months spent watching every Republican imaginable verbally thrashing the Speaker of the House for stating that the CIA had misled Congress, it seems that she was right.
We find that the CIA DID mislead Congress by order of former Vice President Dick Cheney. Hello out there in GOP-Land — Speaker Pelosi was absolutely correct, and I don’t believe I’ve heard any apologies!
In fact Republican Senator Cornyn of Texas actually had the temerity to ascribe suspicious motives to the timing of Leon Panetta’s statement. Pete Yost of the Associated Press quoted him as saying that it: “looks to me suspiciously like an attempt to provide political cover” to Speaker Pelosi and other Democrats. After more and more hideous revelations about the covert, illegal and immoral actions of the Bush administration, why is there a woman in the cross-hairs?
American women have spoken for decades and seemingly in a vacuum about the difficulty of overcoming sexism in our political theater. The barracuda-like feeding frenzy that is still occurring around Ms. Pelosi and her comments regarding the saintly brotherhood of the CIA is certainly a case in point. The sanctimonious outrage that flared up around Madame Speaker was hot enough to light the kindling underneath the stake she’d been tied to.
As we have been told, during this sort of CIA briefing Ms. Pelosi could neither take notes nor discuss anything that was said with anyone. Yet it seems unlikely to certain Republicans that she could have forgotten details under such circumstances. The supposed briefings about waterboarding took place years ago. Let’s say for the sake of argument that at some point somebody did mention something about “enhanced techniques” to her during one of those meetings where notes weren’t allowed. How does that make her complicit?
I think it implausible that before actually seeing the horrendous visuals of Abu Ghraib Nancy Pelosi had any idea what really occurred in those wretched places: hearing words about “techniques” doesn’t conjure up visions of bruised, naked bodies in a degraded heap.
But let us say for the sake of the fair and the balanced that Ms. Pelosi has been guilty of mis-representing the date she found out these things occurred — my God, what is that compared to the actions of Dick Cheney while in office? Where is the outrage against Cheney or former President Bush for bringing this country to the brink of ruin? For involving us in bank-breaking, soul destroying, endless wars because they wanted to??? For torturing in our name in order to get the information they wanted to justify a war they had already waged? For continuing to justify torture?
These guys are our “Masters of War” but they never get the bilious, nasty level of contempt reserved for women, either with power or without. I think for some reason of Deborah Jean Palfrey, the “DC Madam” who hung herself rather than face jail time…
To finish the example of Nancy Pelosi, somehow, in the tortured logic of the GOP (and before the breaking news that Vice President ordered the CIA to mislead Congress – !), all the crimes of Bush-Co are as nothing compared to the possible perfidy of Pelosi. What incredible nonsense.
The level of virulence is puzzling, and I must say I didn’t at first consider sexism as a core reason for the viciousness of these attacks. But then I remembered Hillary Clinton and the way every anchorman in the States (including most of the guys at relatively liberal MSNBC) laughed at her voice and even her freaking pantsuits.
How people tried to trivialize that formidable woman! In the words of Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls: “… you saw it with Hillary’s campaign. She either wasn’t womanly enough or too much of a woman. Sexism still rules all. We don’t like to admit that.” I woke up and started noticing the tone of the running commentary in the media on public, political women. Ladies, there is a fire in the House! And the Senate and the Judiciary and the Executive Branch as well!
Up to today and forevermore in the American news cycle was Sarah Palin, another woman politician who must be mentioned, because she was brought down (err, thank the gods) in a particularly brutal fashion. Although I consider Ms. Palin unfit for public office, there is something about the way she has been targeted that happens primarily to women.
She has compared the way that she was treated to Hillary Clinton, and I understand her point. I do not think a comparison between the two women in terms of gravitas is relevant when it comes to sexism, which hurts women of all political persuasions.
While researching this piece I ran across a blog by Wesleyan Assistant Professor of Government, Elvin Lims. He too was troubled by the what he termed the “feeding frenzy” around Governor Palin, and made some interesting comparisons between Ms. Clinton and Ms. Palin. When quoting Mr. Lims I realized I had already used the term “feeding frenzy” relative to Ms. Pelosi earlier. I chose to mention this and let it remain, as it speaks to the kind of negative energy vortex in which women in public life often find themselves.
Next for your consideration is the exhausted, beleaguered and kind face of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Soon-to-be-Justice of the Supreme Court Sotomayor. This woman, to quote Senator Patrick Leahy, with “more federal court judicial experience than any nominee to the United States Supreme Court in nearly 100 years” has been on the receiving end of graceless, futile bullying by a bunch of older white gentlemen who should know better! To hear Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a fellow known in his past to make racist comments lecture Judge Sotomayor on racism would have been laughable had I not been busy with nausea.
For months now, even though they knew that it was almost inevitable that she would be confirmed, the cacophony from the conservative members of Congress has been repetitive, mindless, shrill, rude and graceless. Despite her extraordinary record and her grace under ceaseless fire, they couldn’t stop themselves from a continual process of humiliating, abusive and hypocritical rhetoric.
As I watched her today, my empathy levels surging, I couldn’t help but think “when will the beating stop?” She has the look of someone who has been greatly suffering of late, and I think if she’d been male, even a male Democrat, the steady thumping on bruised flesh would have stopped long ago.
Look how gently that same clique of privileged white men has treated Senator Ensign and Governor Sanford, to name but two Republicans in the scandal spotlight lately. These men have had the veritable milk of human kindness showered upon them by their fellows, and not because they deserve it. I really, truly don’t understand! Why do hard-working, relatively virtuous women such as Pelosi, Clinton and Sotomayor get the sh*t kicked out of them when mendacious hypocrites like these guys get a pass? To really regard the level of animosity directed at these women is to see, to comprehend a virulent strain of a particularly American sexism that is ignored because it is commonplace. Like racism and the other ‘isms, it’s just always been that way. But really now, this doesn’t have to continue. Does it?