The Ladies Looking Forward
posted by November 7 at 13:54 PMon
I’m excited about Obama’s choice of Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff. On one of my key issues, women’s rights—it’s hard to consider this a “pet issue” when how the country treats its female citizens affects all its citizens—he’s been stellar. He supports funding for embryonic stem cell research, opposed the so-called “partial birth abortion ban,” cosponsored legislation (along with Biden and Obama) expanding women’s access to basic reproductive health care, and received a 100% rating from NARAL. (He’s also been great on environmental issues, earning a 94 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters). Plus, he’s a fucking badass—exactly the kind of asshole Obama should appoint for this key position. (And I’ve always had a bit of a thing for Josh Lyman.)
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for some other reported short-listers for key positions in the Obama administration: Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar, reportedly under consideration for Secretary of State, and Larry Summers, reportedly on the short list to head the Treasury Department.
Let’s start with Hagel. Over his career in the US Senate, he’s received a zero-percent rating from NARAL, reflecting the fact that he has consistently voted against abortion rights, birth control, and embryonic stem-cell research, as well as supporting failed abstinence-only education programs. (As long I’m talking about “interest groups” like women, I should note that Hagel opposes gay marriage, too.)
Lugar, too, received a 0 percent rating from NARAL for his rabidly anti-choice record. Along with Biden, he supported Bush’s proposal to deny African agencies US AIDS funding if they so much as refer clients to family planning and birth control services. On issues that matter to women, these guys are both Republican throwbacks, not the change we need.
A brief note about Summers. In addition to his famous statement that women are underrepresented in math and science professions because the ladies just aren’t good at math and science, Summers has expressed the opinion that “Africa is underpolluted” (a statement he made in advocating for dumping toxic waste in developing countries); has said that children choose to work in sweatshops in Asia; and does not believe in the wage gap between men and women.
According to Women’s Voices Women Vote, women overwhelmingly supported Obama—particularly unmarried women like me, who went for Obama by a 70 to 29 percent margin. (Married women supported Obama 50 to 47 percent; unmarried women with kids supported Obama 74 to 25 percent.) The strong pro-Obama turnout among women demonstrates two things: 1) The hysteria that Hillary Clinton was going to “destroy the Democratic Party” as silly women voted with their vaginas, not their brains, was dead wrong (as Melissa McEwan notes here); and 2) The new administration needs to pay attention to us. Surely there are candidates for these important positions that take women’s rights—our right to birth control, our right to medically accurate sex education, our right to equal pay for equal work, and our right to choose—more seriously than these three.