Sunday, May 6, 2007

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Random questions on a Sunday morning

Perusing the Sunday papers,I have two political questions for readers:

1) Maureen Dowd, covering the French presidential election, has some fun at Segolene Royal's expense, but then drops this stunner of a sentence:
France is chauvinistic women got the vote in 1944 and compose only a small percentage of the National Assembly but the country seems less neurotic than America about the idea of a woman as president.
Question: on what basis is Dowd making this assertion? I know that Hillary Clinton has many, many detractors, but has the discourse on her campaign to date really focused on her gender all that much? The dominant theme in the discussions about Clinton have been her position on Iraq and her campaign's Bush-like quality of recording friends and enemies. Where is this gender neuroses Dowd mentions?

2) In the Washington Post, Perry Bacon Jr. profiles the GOP's non-candidate candidate, Fred Thompson. The lead is pretty clear:

Fred Thompson fervently backed the Iraq war, railed against an expanding federal government, took stands that occasionally annoyed his party and rarely spoke about his views on social issues during his tenure as a senator from Tennessee or in his writings and speeches since leaving office.

In short, the man some in the GOP are touting as a dream candidate has often sounded like the presidential hopeful many of them seem ready to dismiss: Sen. John McCain.

The story makes it clear that besides his strong defense of federalism and his obvious telegenic qualities, Thompson does not cut a profile different from the top-tier GOP candidates. Question: will Thompson only be the flavor of the month until he announces?

posted by Dan on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM




Comments:

My gut feeling is that Fred Thompson's come-from-behind "strategery" is akin to that of "dark bay colt" Street Smart at yesterday's Kentucky Derby. As his jockey said, his voice atremble, "I've got all the faith in the world in this horse":

Street Sense simply got it done Saturday, smartly picking his way through traffic to explode from way at the back of a 20-horse field at The Kentucky Derby.

posted by: Sissy Willis on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



Why is it that French women of a certain age look so darned much better than American women of the same cohort? (On average, of course).

posted by: Mitchell Young on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



Fred is probably waiting for the rest to crack up so he can glide by without opposition, only to sink like a rock when he actually has to face the public.

posted by: Lord on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



I would take Maureen Dowd's statement more seriously if it was made by someone else. She is a careless journalist who seems incapable of an objective analysis of anything. She is the Ann Coulter of the left. If you're not familiar with the term 'dowdification', Google it.

posted by: Jim Esten on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



French doesn't even have a word for chauvinism.

posted by: Paul Zrimsek on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



I think the US does have an unreasonable problem with a woman as president but the connection is indirect. We have put much greater value on military service, for a variety of reasons, than most European countries. Until recently, that's been closed to women. So the odds are stacked against women from the start. Plus, the military bias shapes campaign rhetoric in ways not found elsewhere.

None of that presents an impossible obstacle but it changes the odds dramatically.

Thus, I think Hillary is smart to have chosen the Armed Services Committee and to have positioned herself as a hawk. The problem is that no one thinks she's sincere.

posted by: arthur on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



Actually, chauvinism comes from the French "chauvinisme". Here's a note from Wikipedia re it's origins.

"The term is derived from the undocumented Nicolas Chauvin, whose legend made him out to be a soldier under Napoleon Bonaparte whose fanatical zeal for his Emperor induced him, though wounded seventeen times in the Napoleonic Wars, to continue nevertheless to fight for France. It is claimed he yelled in the Battle of Waterloo when the French were finally defeated: "The Old Guard dies but does not surrender!", implying blind and unquestioned zeal to one's country [or other group of reference].

The origin and early usage indicate that chauvinisme was coined to describe excessive nationalism, and the original French term retains this meaning today. The term entered public use due to a satirical treatment of Chauvin in the French play La Cocarde Tricolore (The Tricolore Cockade)."

As for sexism, it translates as sexism.

The sexism directed against Hillary Clinton often takes the form of questioning her femininity, sexuality, and attractiveness. (Google "Hillary Clinton, lesbian" to get a sense of the discussion.) The idea of a woman as competent as Clinton is apparently so disconcerting to some people that they dismiss her as a "real woman".

posted by: THS on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



Well, I found this in a Reuters article:

"Only 16 percent of lawmakers in the U.S. Congress are women. Compared to countries of similar wealth, one would expect 30 to 50 percent, Reynolds said."

If their factoid is correct, then that suggests that *something* is going on here.

The title of the article is "U.S. system trips up women seeking presidency."

posted by: Josh Yelon on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



Remind me to use winking smiley-face icons from now on.

posted by: Paul Zrimsek on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



"On what basis is Dowd making this assertion?"

Why none whatsoever, just like her other assertions. JE, above, she is not "of the left."

"Will Thompson only be the flavor of the month until he announces?"

Yes.

This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions...

posted by: Doug on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



Two big differences between Thompson and McCain:

1. As Kaus points out, Thompson appears to have a different view of i---------n (Scroll down to the 1:06am post).

2. Thompson will turn 65 this year. McCain will turn 71 two weeks later.

posted by: kwo on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



Sorry, Paul. If I'd taken another second to think about your comment, I might have recognized it as sarcasm rather than seriousness, but it's not always easy to catch that in posted comments. You, too, might have taken a second to question what you read; if you had, my take might have led you to question the efficacy of your original post rather than sneering at mine . . . or perhaps to say something substantive w/ regard to the issue at hand.

posted by: THS on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



How does Dowd know how neurotic America is about electing a woman president?

posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



Where I'm from, throwaway jokes aren't meant to have efficacy. But it's not the end of the world when someone doesn't get it on the first try.

posted by: Paul Zrimsek on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]



Ever hear Chris Matthews on Hardball comparing Hillary to the ex-wife from hell? Ever hear any of his guests tell him that's stupid and irresponsible? Enough said.

posted by: Mike Schilling on 05.06.07 at 10:27 AM [permalink]






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