Nancy, Hillary And The Year Of The Woman

According to the media, this is “the year of the woman.”

More women are running for public office than ever before. The dramatic increase in political activism following the election began with Women’s Marches that turned out truly astonishing numbers of people, and political scientists who have studied the ongoing Resistance report that middle-aged suburban women are providing its backbone.

Many of these reports make it seem as if the dearth of female presence in Congress and Statehouses around the country is due to women’s previous lack of interest in running for office. Then America elected a male chauvinist pig as President, that election roused the sleeping maiden(s), and the surge in their political participation is the result.

If you accept that explanation, I have some swampland in Florida to sell you…

I’m not a fan of people who whine about victimization, but really, it takes a certain kind of obtuseness not to recognize the differences in the way political men and women are perceived and treated– the extra hurdles women candidates face, and the vicious demonization of those few who rise to positions of power.

Paul Krugman recently considered the case of Nancy Pelosi. He began by looking at the issues being raised by Republican Congressional candidates, noting that they weren’t running on the unpopular tax bill or even more unpopular trade war.

Instead, Republicans’ attack ads have increasingly focused on one of their usual boogeymen — or, rather, a boogeywoman: Nancy Pelosi, the former and possibly future speaker of the House.

So this seems like a good time to remind everyone that Pelosi is by far the greatest speaker of modern times and surely ranks among the most impressive people ever to hold that position. And it’s interesting to ask why she gets so little credit with the news media, and hence with the general public, for her accomplishments.

Krugman goes through a list of those accomplishments, which compare favorably to past Speakers we consider great (and which absolutely tower over the performance of Paul Ryan). Krugman notes that, compared with more modern House speakers–Gingrich, Hastert, Boehner, Ryan– Pelosi is a giant among dwarfs. But you’d never know that from her media coverage.

It’s quite a record. Oh, and whenever you hear Republicans claim that Pelosi is some kind of wild-eyed leftist, ask yourself, what’s so radical about protecting retirement income, expanding health care and reining in runaway bankers?

It’s probably also worth noting that Pelosi has been untouched by allegations of personal scandal, which is amazing given the right’s ability to manufacture such allegations out of thin air.

So why is Pelosi always portrayed as “divisive.” Why is she the preferred target of GOP attacks?

I mean, it’s true that she’s a political partisan — but no more so than any of the Republicans who preceded and followed her. Her policy stances are far less at odds with public opinion than, say, Ryan’s attempts to privatize Medicare and slash its funding. So what makes her “divisive”? The fact that Republicans keep attacking her? That would happen to any Democrat.

Or maybe it’s just the fact that she’s a woman — a woman who happens to have been far better at her job than any man in recent memory.

Ya’ think?

Hillary Clinton has been demonized for thirty years. It is certainly fair game to fault her campaign for miscalculations, or to recognize that she isn’t as charismatic as her husband. It’s fair to disagree with policy stances she’s taken. But she has performed admirably in every government position she’s held, and despite being constantly investigated, has never been found to have broken any law. Male officeholders routinely exhibit the behaviors for which she is excoriated, and almost never excite the same animosity.

Evidently, “uppity” women like Nancy and Hillary offend a lot of people’s notions of “proper womanhood.”

America has a lot at stake in November’s midterms. If–as I hope–there is a Democratic “wave,” a lot of Democratic women will be swept in with it. Along with all the other tasks facing them, they will need to join Elizabeth Warren, and persist— continuing the maddeningly slow process of culture change, normalizing the participation of women in government, and refusing to be stereotyped, demeaned and dismissed.

I hope it will prove to be the year of the woman. But we’re not there yet.


  1. Given this analysis, how unsmart are Democratic candidates for House seats who echo GOP attacks on Pelosi? Granted, Nancy has been stigmatized and so may be toxic to independent and swing voters. But what happens when Dems take the House and the new MOCs are faced with opposing her, she of greater stature than any recent Republican?

  2. Well, if your female idols are Nancy and Hillary, we are in trouble as a collective.

    There are transgender and Muslim women running for office and winning. Leading the pack is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Puerto Rican bartender who toppled a career Democratic politician in the Bronx who was supposed to replace Pelosi.

    Pelosi/Hillary are symbolic of the current democratic parties failures. They sold out the people year’s ago. They are corporatists who believe in MONEY as the almighty GOD.

    They’ve been at the helm during the most destructive decades for the working class and racial inequalities. Maybe their rich white privilege got in the way of their sense of fairness.

    Whatever their excuses, they epitomize the failed generation of Boomer Democrats who joined the corporate bus to get rich by screwing over the little guy. This will be their legacy.

    Meanwhile, voters are electing real women who do not come from a place of privilege and power. Let’s explore the rising crop of women running to put the power back into the hands of the people as opposed to those who sold out the people to get rich and famous.

  3. “Given this analysis, how unsmart are Democratic candidates for House seats who echo GOP attacks on Pelosi?”

    Wayne Moss; an excellent observation and question. Are those Democrats echoing GOP attacks on Nancy Pelosi the same weak links who have voted to support Trump’s dangerous bills and Executive Orders?

    If anything; those GOP attacks against Nancy Pelosi offer proof of their fear of her powers if she regains her position as Speaker of the House. Ryan has merely parroted Trump, Sessions and McConnell’s views and supported them as he ignores his Constitutional RESPONSIBILITY to enact the beginning of the end of Trump’s unopposed reign of terror.

    Will probably get flack on this comment but; now is the time for Hillary Clinton to retire from the public political scene. Trump and his people are keeping her name and her baggage (right or wrong) alive in the media; her win of the popular vote was more voting against Trump than for her and her faulty campaign foundation. She will serve us much better by staying behind the scenes and donating some of her money, rather than her face, to the Democratic party. Her ego is detrimental to the November 6th mid-term election.


  4. “…stereotyped, demeaned and dismissed…”

    Courtney Tritch, running in the Indiana 3rd district race for the House, has already experienced this treatment from her opponent, incumbent Jim Banks. His response, when she recently challenged him to commit to a series of debates, included the following: “Unlike my opponent I have a job and I have a family,” said Banks, Monday. “There are other commitments that I have also in addition to running for Congress.”

    Tritch will be a great Congresswoman. We live in a deeply red and widely brainwashed state, but I’m hoping she will be part of the blue wave coming this November. Then we can summarily dismiss Banks.

  5. JoAnn,

    “Will probably get flack on this comment but; now is the time for Hillary Clinton to retire from the public political scene. Trump and his people are keeping her name and her baggage (right or wrong) alive in the media; her win of the popular vote was more voting against Trump than for her and her faulty campaign foundation. She will serve us much better by staying behind the scenes and donating some of her money, rather than her face, to the Democratic party. Her ego is detrimental to the November 6th mid-term election.”

    No flack from me. Elizabeth Warren needs to be recognized before November as the leader of the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton is a negative force, at this time, as you have so well pointed out. She’s keeping Elizabeth Warren from coming into the forefront, with the same pandering to special interest groups that was successful against Bernie Sanders.

    A leaderless Democratic Party will be a non-vote for many potential voters.

  6. For the Republicans, it’s all about marketing, and boy are they good at it. Since they all fall in line and spout the same nonsense over and over, everybody gets to hear their repeated lies until they become like background noise. Then we get the Rorschach Test, with the picture pf Pelosi or Clinton and our first thoughts are she’s bad, very, very bad. This has been their modus operandi since Frank Luntz first teamed up with Newt Gingrich. Americans need to wake up to the fact that they are being played.

  7. I do hope yesterday opened up some thought channels for a few of the women who’ve been ignoring the daily onslaught of scandal. Maybe, just MAYbe, they’ll wake up… a little.
    Thank you, Ms Kennedy.

  8. I voted for Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton and her husband have too much baggage and personally I am tired of political ‘dynasties’… telling me what my America should be! I know what it SHOULD BE, I was born here and most of my blood is based in this continent. The Euro-centric mindset is what caused this situation. We do not have a ‘king’, we don’t need dynasties – we have 370 million people – what are they? Chopped liver? Out of all of them we have been centered around a couple of families? SCREW THAT.
    If you are wondering what happened to the Year of the Woman – fuckface von klownschtick has managed to steal the scene – just what he wanted! And it is because WE LET HIM. If Women want to make a change – there is a very easy way. And I don’t have to spell it out in words! They did it in ancient Greece and Rome it worked then! wake up. Women CAN change the world or most of it – real damn quick. Or has the domestication programming of women in this society worked that well…?

  9. Melissa Schlag, a local, unpaid town board member in NE has been verbally attacked & physically threatened. There is Even a Facebook impeachment page. All she did was kneel during the opening pledge. Viscious attacks.

  10. Shame on those women who choose to join in with their men to condemn Nancy Pelosi just because she is an uppity woman who doesn’t know her place in society. We women can be our own worst enemies.

    Indiana members of our legislature have already been bashing their female fellow legislative member that accused AG Hill of groping her. When I asked my own rep, Dave Wolkins, a month ago if they were going to do the right thing and get rid of Hill he mentioned that she (the member that accused Hill) WAS wearing a skin tight dress at that party. I was so shocked when he said this that I was speechless. When I get the opportunity to publicly question him about that comment you can bet that I will be asking him in a way that will put him in HIS place!

  11. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Hillary, Schumer and the DNC represent the poor uninspiring leadership and direction of the Democratic Party. Since 1990 the Democratic Party in the House, Senate and Governorship’s have been downhill.

    Pelosi, will not co-sponsor HR 676 Enhanced Medicare For All, even though 123 of her Democratic Colleagues have. Here in the USA people can go bankrupt because they cannot pay their medical bills, or suffer because they cannot afford prescription drugs. Pelosi stands indifferent to the suffering of millions of Americans who do not have adequate health care.

    Pelosi had a chance to bow out gracefully as Democratic House Leader after the 2016 Electoral debacle, instead she has bullheadedly clung to power.

  12. Nancy,

    “When I get the opportunity to publicly question him about that comment you can bet that I will be asking him in a way that will put him in HIS place!”

    He needs it.

    I viewed a segment of the BBC News, yesterday, which featured an interview with a Trump supporter. At least he was truthful in his comment—“that he would rather support his [Trump’s] views and conduct with women, than support gay marriage.”

  13. Marv,

    That trump supporter’s comment on BBC News rings true for so many of them. They really are disgusting people.

    As for my Rep’s comment – I know that he would not have been at that bar to actually see what his co-legislator was wearing. He is just more than happy to spread rumors about a female victim. Truth doesn’t matter.

    What is that saying? Truth isn’t truth?

  14. We ARE in trouble, Todd Smekens, because the Electoral College appointed amateur fumblers when the people elected proven experienced public servants, and we are in trouble because of unproductive but destructive rhetoric such as yours. Not to worry, I’m just going to scroll past your crap in the future. You “sound” like a member of the snarling GOP tribe, fangs, talons and all.
    In passing, I’d like to recommend Pete’s calming posts to you.

  15. Nancy, you may already know this but for the people that do not:
    From WIKI:

    Wolkins is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), serving as Indiana State Chair.

  16. Monotanous – Yes, I have known this for years and have mentioned it on this blog before. Wolkins is Indiana’s (Koch’s) anti-environment representative. If he could completely eliminate IDEM and the EPA he would do so.

  17. Republicans have no plan to make America great again but a good plan to bring back the Gilded Age again (if it has not already arrived), and having had their giant tax cut for the rich and hammered lots of rules and regs designed to further enrich their special interest friends, it is now time to face a November where polls show a blue wave in the making. Having done nothing for ordinary Americans they can brag about, they are attacking women for being women. Thus Nancy (my choice for speaker) is bad; Hillary is bad etc. They neglect to point out that even if what they are saying about Democratic women were true that it has nothing to do with tax giveaways to the rich, wage inequality, gutting of Medicare and Social Security etc. It is diversionary chatter with a design of negative framing to avoid discussion of the real issues of the day, issues on which they are 100 percent on the wrong side. I for one am not going to let them get by with this but rather plan to hold their feet to the fire on the real issues confronting us, issues our demented president sidesteps with his sloganeering.

    My choice for president is as of now Elizabeth Warren with Sally Yates either as her running mate or as AG and think that their election or appointment would amount to an ethical breath of fresh air, especially with a Godfather in the Oval Office surrounded by felons, some as yet unindicted or unconvicted. I have written several times that what we are seeing is a classic RICO case but one that will never be brought by a cowed Sessions who has forgotten that he is Attorney General of the United States and not Attorney General in charge of covering the Godfather’s posterior. Perhaps Yates or some other Warren appointee would recognize his or her responsibility to the United States and its people and act accordingly without fear or favor.

    Republican putdown of women is a diversionary tactic in Lakoffian framing designed to shift our attention from the Mafia White House we are now experiencing to unrelated claims of male superiority, a tactic many of the Godfather’s base applaud. I am not a member of that base.

  18. The question is to me how much power do Republican lies have in America? It’s clear that Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi are two of the most accomplished politicians in recent history and therefor the ones most lied about by Republicans. It’s also true that Republicans continue to lie about the 2016 Presidential election which they lost to Hillary only to have their bacon pulled from the fire by Putin. Let’s start there.

    We as a country will demonstrate to history and the rest of the world a couple of facts about us over the next two years. One possibility is that we are in fact as gullible as most observers believe we are and we will allow propaganda to define us at huge expense to us. The other extreme is that we will demonstrate heroism. We will make the best decisions despite the propaganda. In between are any number of levels of possibility that indicate different proportions of gullibility and critical thinking.

    For the bulk of my life I would have bet on critical thinking defining us. But, I will have to regretfully say, no longer. Our addiction to entertainment has made us weak, gullible, and without backbone. So our choices in the future will be defined by those traits.

    Democracy may not be dead but has been dealt damaging blows. We no longer are capability of the best decisions. We are only capable of small decisions, compromises, tentativeness.

    Can freedom survive? We’ll see.

  19. Republicans are hoping Dems will run a woman for POTUS in 2020, The hostility the public shows toward female accomplishment at that level, helps them sway the vote. For example voters who elected Obama and in 2016 voted for Trump, makes no sense except misogyny. Dems need to be shrewder heed bellwether signs and run someone who’s electable!

  20. To me “someone electable” means someone outside of the current range of Republican lies.

    Understand that I accept the necessity of doing that but also see the thinking compromised by entertainment media propaganda that the necessity of considering that reality is a surrender to.

    Lies have won and democracy will always now be handicapped by that reality.

  21. I think Democrats tend to see through the lens of class injustice, and Republicans see through the lens of structures closer to their lives. So Democrats see men dominating politics and corporate boards, all while in reality more women are obtaining degrees and increasingly filling the middle and lower level jobs today’s market has to offer. Republicans (especially men) see their realities becoming increasingly more bleak as their prospects fade. Both sides are complaining about unfairness while neither is willing to take in the big picture (in general). This leads to continuing divisions between more activism minded people along gender lines. What we are witnessing, both among Democratic women and Republican men, is the willingness to use gender as a marketing tool, and although, yes, without a doubt Nancy Pelosi has been unfairly maligned by the Republican spin machine, both sides have been willing to stoke the fires of gender bigotry for political advantage. My advice to the Democrats (as if anyone would hear it) is to run a positive presidential campaign in 2020 that is all about creating unity and moving beyond pettiness. That is what people will be yearning for.

  22. And before someone says, you will never change the minds of…

    Correct. Anyone stupid enough to support Trump at this point is a lost cause. You don’t run a Democratic campaign aimed at those people. It’s about the median voter, the one who isn’t really tuned into the details but will understand the difference between positive and negative, and it’s about using positivity to encourage otherwise unmotivated potential Democrats to actually vote.

  23. I agree Pelosi has been a great Speaker, Hillary has done much in her time in the limelight; I voted for her in2016. However, it just may be the time to advance younger women within the party. Senator Warren is where we need her, in the Senate; if she were to run, I would vote for her but feel she is more valuable where she is.

  24. From my discussions with Democrats who object to Pelosi, all of them think she is a fine Representative but lacks the leadership ability needed for Speaker. I’ve heard the same from independents. Most of them blame her poor leadership for legislative failures during Obama’s tenure. Mind you, these are older people who recall the charismatic leadership of Sam Rayburn, Tip O’Neill and Carl Albert. Personally, I would love to have a female Speaker with charisma and leadership skills, and hopefully young, so she can lead the house for a long time.

  25. The curious phenomenon is that women seem to be preferred for office — as long as it is very low level. Look at the election results for Convention Delegate (Democratic) in the last election. These were of the form “Choose six” from the list. All the women took the top slots. However, when it gets to higher office — that’s another story.

    Last election cycle, I supported a woman for President (after the convention), Lt. Governor, Congress, State Senate and State House. I didn’t see anybody that “looked like me”; I just chose the best candidates on the ballot. Sadly, only one of my choices won. I will continue to support the best candidates, who will often be women, African-Americans, Hispanic, LGBT, Muslim, etc. I would like to believe that the rest of the country will eventually elect the best people for office. I will happily settle for a small step in that direction.

  26. As per Pete:
    “For the bulk of my life I would have bet on critical thinking defining us. But, I will have to regretfully say, no longer. Our addiction to entertainment has made us weak, gullible, and without backbone. So our choices in the future will be defined by those traits.”

    Unfortunately I have to agree based on what I’ve seen since the 2016 election; via Trump rallies and the lunatic fringe’s lunatic support of all that is imprisoning us today. I truly feel this country is being held hostage by Fox and Friends and all those who have successfully worked so hard to find someone in power to give voice and legitimacy to extreme religious belief/behavior and reinvigorated bigotry. Entertainment will out and until the bigot-in-chief is truly finished getting all he wants from his big shiny toy (this country) all eyes will be glued to sound bites, rallies, idiot so called attorneys, and anything else he wants to subject us to. Our control is gone. His is everyday in our face.

Comments are closed.