In the past week, there are 476 documents on Nexis heralding the magnificent achievement of Nancy Pelosi becoming the FIRST WOMAN speaker of the House.
I thought we had moved beyond such multicultural milestones.
The media yawned when Condoleezza Rice became the first black woman secretary of state (and when Lincoln Chafee became the first developmentally disabled senator).
There were only 77 documents noting that Rice was the first black woman to be the secretary of state, and half of them were issues of Jet, Essence, Ebony or Black Entrepreneur magazine.
A New York Times profile of Rice at the time waited until the last sentence to note in passing that Rice was “only the second woman, and the first black woman, to hold the job.” (In a separate column by me, it was noted that Rice was the “first competent woman” to hold the job.)
Not everyone ignored Secretary Rice’s achievement. Gore’s campaign manager, Donna Brazile – the last black person to hold a prominent role in any Democratic presidential campaign – told Newsweek that when she watched President Bush nominate Rice, “I had chills up and down my spine.” Brazile said: “I never thought in my lifetime I’d see an African-American woman being nominated as secretary of state. George Bush made that happen.”
On MSNBC’s “Hardball,” even Al Sharpton said of Rice’s appointment, “I don’t think you can sneeze at the fact that she has made a tremendous achievement as the first black woman in history to be a State Department head.”
Rice was not the first black secretary of state because Bush had already made Colin Powell the first black secretary of state. That was back during Bush’s first term, when Rice was the first female national security adviser.
Bush also named Alberto Gonzales the first Hispanic attorney general. He made an Arab-American, Spencer Abraham, secretary of energy; a Cuban-American, Carlos Gutierrez, secretary of commerce; an Asian-American, Elaine Chao, secretary of labor; and a retarded-American, Norman Mineta, secretary of transportation. It was as if Mariah Carey and Tiger Woods had children and they all joined the Bush Cabinet.
The whole place has been lousy with women since the first Bush term, including Gale Ann Norton, secretary of the interior, Ann Veneman, secretary of agriculture, and Margaret Spellings, secretary of education. For a while there, it looked as if Bush might become the first president whose entire Cabinet’s menstrual cycles were synchronized.
In a rare article taking note of Bush’s “Benetton-ad presidency,” Time magazine’s Joe Klein said of Bush’s second-term appointments: “It took Bush a month before he named a standard-issue white male.”
By contrast, John Kerry hired only white males for top positions in his presidential campaign, a fact so embarrassing that even the media eventually took notice. In Kerry’s defense, almost all of his and Teresa’s domestic servants appear to have been people of color, although we still don’t have a final head count on the place in Aspen.
But when Nancy Pelosi – another Democrat who married a multimillionaire – achieves the minor distinction of becoming the first female speaker of the House, The New York Times acts like she’s invented cold fusion.
There were two major articles breathlessly reporting Pelosi’s magnificent achievement as first female speaker and an op-ed by Bob Herbert, titled “Ms. Speaker and Other Trends.” Beatifying Pelosi as “the most powerful woman ever to sit in Congress,” Herbert began: “Sometimes you can actually feel the winds of history blowing.” There was a major Times profile of Pelosi, gushing that Pelosi was “on the brink of becoming the first female speaker.” (Isn’t she just the most independent little gal?)
So in addition to bringing back a cut-and-run national security strategy, tax-and-spend domestic policy and a no-enforcement immigration policy, the new Democratic Congress is apparently ushering in a return to feminist milestones.
I warned you people about what might happen if “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” ever caught on, and now you’ve got no one but yourselves to blame. Happy now?