“For those who study women in politics, it was a notable moment – a behind-the-scenes peek at a powerful woman negotiating with the leader of the free world. Even Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, did not spar with Mr. Trump in quite the same unscripted way. Their televised debates were controlled by moderators.
“We rarely get to see a woman in that level of leadership confronted in that way,” said Debbie Walsh, the director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “I think this was an example that really speaks to women’s capacity to lead, and to do it civilly, to do it with grace and to be strong and clear.” – Quote of the Day: Debbie Walsh in New York Times
There’s not a thing I disagree with above, and I make it a practice to disagree as little as possible with the estimable Debbie Walsh. She is doing seminal work (pun unintended but I amuse myself) in charting the progress of women in American politics, educating & training women to recognize their power, and even empowering girls coming up. Check out Debbie’s life work here at CAWP at Rutgers.
I can’t join in the Pelosi worship, though – not at the level I’m seeing it on social media. Don’t get me wrong; I have zero trouble cheering her in yesterday’s bizarre confrontation in the Oval. She was so the adult in the room. Schumer was cowed. Trump, the bully who doesn’t realize everybody’s over him (Chris Christie flashbacks). And Pence … WTF? Submissive? Checked-out? Hearing ghosts? But I digress.
I expect Pelosi’s toughness. I expect this from a woman who has led her party in the House for 15 years, including two terms as Speaker. And I don’t find it that big a deal. I wish we would stop talking about women wielding enormous power as though they deserve cookies and a pat on the head for doing their damn jobs. Particularly not 15 years after Pelosi’s already been doing it. Or over-praising them so much we over-elevate them, swear off challenging them on anything. I find it hobbling. Trivializing. Nancy Pelosi is a capable and successful politician. Why do we talk about her like her competence is a surprise? And great google-moogly, looking more competent than Trump and all his frenetic hand-waving threats? This is the lowest bar possible. Perspective.
So I join the congratulations to Leader Pelosi (fuck Trump calling her Nancy, she has a title and it’s 2nd in line for his job). But I think some of the social media cheering is projection from those who still believe that Hillary Clinton – with whom Pelosi has demographics, politics, and power in common – lost the White House to that infant because of sexism. Making hero-worship of Pelosi, with Hillary’s hurt feelings wandering the woods still in mind. I know that’s not a popular opinion, particularly with my demographic. But I’m seeing all the same people making the same case on social media. And oh, the world is so much more complicated than that. My 2 cents.
Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP