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Friday: Cocco Puffs

Marie Cocco wrote a face slapping Hai Karate piece yesterday on the status of women.  The Glass Ceiling Still Holds is not for the feint of heart:

It is time to stop kidding ourselves. This wasn’t a breakthrough year for American women in politics. It was a brutal one.

The glass ceiling remains firmly in place — not cracked, as Hillary Clinton insisted as she tried to claim rhetorical victory after her defeat in the Democratic nominating contest. It wasn’t even scratched with the candidacy of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee — unless you consider becoming an object of national ridicule to be a symbol of advancement. As divergent as these two women are ideologically and temperamentally, as different as are their resumes, they both banged their heads — hard — against the ceiling. Both were bruised. So was the goal of advancing women in political leadership.

But, we are invariably told, surely there are enough women moving through the “pipeline” of lower offices so that someday, some woman from somewhere will win the presidency or the vice presidency. Well, here is how things stand: Eight women will serve as governors in 2009, the same as this year. The proportion of women serving in statewide elective office actually has dropped since it reached a high of about 28 percent in 2000; it is now about 24 percent, according to the center.

Yes, ladies, we have actually *lost* ground.  There will likely never be another Hillary Clinton in our lifetime.   That’s because in order to get to Hillary’s stature, a woman will have to be in the public sphere for a long time so that the electorate can achieve a kind of comfort level with her.  There aren’t any women coming up that are going to have those opportunities.  Most Americans don’t even know who Nancy Pelosi is and those who do would like her to grow a spine.  Katherin Sebelius?  She’s as washed out and flavorless as a politician can be.  Besides, these women are not on TV everyday, doing things, whether you like those things or not.  The thing Clinton had going for her was seen as a liability by her party- her ability to polarize people.  She was a well known commodity. The public watched her grow from a first lady to a senator. You either loved her or hated her. But during the campaign season, even the people who thought they hated the Clintons came to have a grudging respect for her.

There is a section of Cocco’s piece that I take issue with:

Those who watched the media’s sexist hazing of both Clinton and Palin often rationalize this treatment as the result of these two candidates’ particular personalities and the legitimacy — or presumed illegitimacy — of their campaigns. But Barbara Lee, whose Boston-based family foundation has conducted extensive research of gubernatorial races involving women, routinely identifies the same undercurrents in state campaigns. Voters demand more experience of a woman candidate, and judge her competence separately from whether she is sufficiently “likable.” Male candidates typically must clear only the competence bar to be judged — as Obama indelicately put it during a primary debate — “likable enough.”

“We heard that over and over again — that no woman is ever right,” Lee says of her focus groups. “They like the concept of it but when it comes to a real, live, breathing candidate, they don’t.”

The problem was not voters.  The problem was that the media didn’t like her, her own party didn’t like her.  And what do these two entities consist of anyway?  From what I can tell, they are overwhelmingly white, late middle aged men.  Is it any wonder that they were not Hillary fans?  Maybe this in part explains the strange phenomenon of Hillary winning primaries after the media had pronounced her dead.  The institutions that arrayed against her were anachronisms.  Their pronouncements didn’t resonate with the millions of men and women who are in the rest of the workforce and who grew up, got educated and clawed or are clawing their way up the corporate ladder.  In the REAL world, women still have it tough but they have cracked a lot more glass ceilings than they have in the boardroom of GE or the Democratic party inner circle.

The party could have won easily with Hillary.  She inspired confidence, capability, intelligence and intestinal fortitude.  This was her year.  It was OUR year and it was brutally suppressed by a bunch of fricking neanderthals who refused to evolve.

They’ve got to go.

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