Someone has to say it: Feminism has been steadily creeping into the conservative movement of late, though not in its usual manifestation, which would be associated with the demand for non-traditional gender roles. Rather, this manifestation of feminism demands that any female candidate or officeholder in the Republican ranks not be brought to task for obvious and embarrassing displays of incompetence, ignorance, or weakness. This reeks of the ethos of affirmative action, and anyone who opposes the affirmative-action mindset would reasonably be expected to oppose this phenomenon as well.
Dick Cheney has been making the rounds promoting his memoirs. Apart from the Powell controversy, Cheney observes in one part of his book that Condoleezza Rice tearfully confessed to him about being wrong in her advice to President Bush.
Said MSNBC's Jamie Gangel in an interview with Cheney, "You know that 'tearfully' is a loaded description for powerful women in high office. It's going to be seen by a lot of people as provocative." Cheney responded that it happens to be accurate. But it would seem that accuracy and, well, reality are less important than making sure that supposedly fragile women are not offended. Never mind what actually happened in that room with Rice and Cheney. It is more important that Cheney watch his words. Interestingly, Cheney is not playing this game; he simply does not care. Perhaps he is a dying breed – both literally and metaphorically – one who is unconcerned with feminist sensibilities and shrugs off these indignant objections unflinchingly. Cheney is not interested in what this female interviewer implies that he is allowed or disallowed from saying.
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Instead of admitting how ludicrous it is that Michele Bachmann thought Lexington and Concord are in New Hampshire, we're supposed to be outraged that "the media" should harp on this. And we are instead to direct our indignation at conservative men, because they won't stick up for Bachmann and Sarah Palin. Might it be that some conservative men, perhaps even a majority of them, do not want to stick up for Palin and Bachmann because they do not believe that these women are qualified?
There is no escaping the hilarity of Sarah Palin's thinking that Paul Revere was warning the British rather than the Americans. Some historians, of dubious motives, have come up with an obscure angle in which her remark can be construed as accurate; however, this is clearly a stretch. "Revere isn't trying to alert the British, but he is trying to warn them," said professor Robert Allison to NPR. It is not clear whether Palin literally believed what she said, or whether her words were so jumbled (as usual) that she simply inverted the historical facts. But if her bus ride was to educate people about American history (laughable), then I would hardly recommend that Revere be characterized as warning the British, which doesn't make sense, rather than warning the Americans, which is what he was actually doing.
Sarah Palin comes from a long tradition of women who go on and on in a circular manner without ever having any clear purpose as to why they are speaking. Bachmann also fits into that tradition, though without as much gusto as Palin. In fact, Bachmann only comes off as sensible if the bar is set as low as Palin's example.
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But this is supposed to be the year of "the conservative women." Can we please declare that year over, if this is what it entails? We are supposed to close ranks around these inexplicably popular women and explain away their disturbing lack of knowledge. I would never question that there are plenty of brilliant conservative women out there. Peggy Noonan and Heather Mac Donald come to mind. But Bachmann and Palin do not. Rather, they are apart of a different phenomenon.
Feminists more or less advocate, nay, insist on, the rewriting of textbooks to exaggerate the contributions of women in both history and literature. Now it seems that conservatives are being asked to rewrite reality so that the Republican women are barred from any criticism. In this paradigm, any attack on a woman's intelligence is seen as a sexist, even if the woman's intelligence self-evidently should be called into question. This is dangerous. We must not use the means of feminist speech-policing to achieve the ends of conservative ascendency, because ultimately, it will lead to defeat.
Malcolm Unwell is an educator and adjunct professor in both English and history. His work has appeared at Americanthinker.com and the educational research webzine Educationnext.com.