Politics & Policy

Who Needs a Woman Speaker?

Being honest about a woman's place and good old-fashioned politics.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column is available exclusively through United Media. For permission to reprint or excerpt this copyrighted material, please contact Carmen Puello at cpuello@unitedmedia.com.

Usually, people want to stand up and be counted. During the most recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s, I wanted to do just the opposite.

The moment occurred while Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was speechifying about women’s “progress.” She was reveling in the same kind of political victimhood that frequently seems to perversely empower liberal women who work in Washington. It helps with their ideologically advantageous illusion that women are somehow oppressed in the United States, despite the fact that, say, the secretary of state is a woman (as has been the case more often than not lately).

Anyway, Klobuchar — one of two women on the Senate Judiciary Committee — asked Kagan how many women were on the Supreme Court in 1980. Zero is the answer. How dramatically this was noted! How many women, the senator asked, were in the Senate in 1980? Zero, again, it was made clear. (She later corrected that — Nancy Kassebaum had been elected in Kansas a few years earlier.) Hooking her quiz to a previous comment of Sen. Tom Coburn’s about the dilution of some freedoms by some courts in recent years, she announced: “So, as I think about that question, about if people were more free in 1980, I think it’s all in the eyes of the beholder.” She continued: “I think there’s no question that women have greater opportunities now, although they could be made greater still.” She then praised Kagan for being concerned about the same — making sure there are more women in leadership.

I humbly submit that women in America really don’t need bean-counters. Three, soon, on the Supreme Court is not necessarily a sign of oppression or progress. If the U.S. Senate, which currently has 17 women, had, at some time in the future, no women, this would not be a sign that American women were oppressed, or limited in their opportunities. It might mean that the Senate doesn’t quite look like America, but that’s never been a constitutional requirement. The hypothetical future dearth of women might simply be a reflection of a little thing called freedom — freedom of choice, in fact, which, in another context having to do with women, liberal feminists are all for. Funny how catchphrases only work when they are ideologically convenient.

Freedom of choice accounts for a number of things liberal feminists, and the Left more generally, would like you to believe are fundamentally unjust. Individual women have different priorities, and collectively women tend to have priorities that are fruits of, not unusually, biology and natural differences between men and women.

Furthermore, bring on the zero, I say, if it means it’s not the likes of Amy Klobuchar, California ladies Barbara Boxer (who is in a tough reelection battle this year — against a woman) and Dianne Feinstein, and . . . well, just about any woman in the Senate right now, including some of the Republicans. If you’re going to have any women in the Senate, I want from them the same things I want from the men there: actual defense of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As we’ve seen in some of the bold breeze of the new feminism in politics lately, being a woman in politics doesn’t mean having to deny one’s motherly, life-protecting nature, which, frankly, is what women in politics too often do. Even a certain grandmother from San Francisco, in her ways. How else can you explain how some of the most outspoken leaders against the dignity of human life in America — and the West — are women?

In a June speech to the National Right to Life Committee, House Minority Leader John Boehner explained that “Americans love life, and we love freedom. They’re both intertwined, permanently, as part of the American character. America is a nation built on freedom. And without respect for life, freedom is in jeopardy.

He said: “When human life takes a back seat to other priorities — personal comforts, economics — freedom is diminished. By contrast, when we affirm the dignity of life, we affirm our commitment to freedom.”

I want women in the Senate who understand that. I want Supreme Court justices who appreciate that, and who understand how the Constitution reflects this in its very letter (not in its conveniently subjective penumbras and emanations). If they happen to be men, what’s wrong with that? If they happen to be women, super. This election cycle, Carly Fiorina is taking on Boxer; Sharron Angle is taking on the Democratic leader of the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada; Jane Norton, a smart, articulate pro-life woman, is battling it out in a tough primary — she is another example of this most natural model of the woman in politics.

When I vote, when I look at the political landscape, I don’t need someone who dresses like I might. I want someone who represents my views. I want someone who represents the Constitution, which includes a fundamental respect for human life, not to mention limits on government and its branches.

And I’m more than fine with a male speaker of the House. I celebrate it if we’re talking Nancy Pelosi — who, under an ideological delusion or not, lied about the health-care bill she championed, and ushered through to law its inclusion of abortion — versus John Boehner, who fought it every step of the way.

The last time I wrote about pro-life women in politics – in the context of that lightning rod, Sarah Palin – I read about how my politics were somehow contrary to justice and equality. Too bad you can’t actually explain that one to the innocent lives taken by Roe v. Wade, ironically legislated by the Court back in those dark “zero women” days.

Tom Coburn is right about that freedom thing. And he needn’t apologize that he happens to be a man and in the Senate. I have zero tolerance for that. And empty sisterhood talk is just the poisoned fruit of the culture of death it perpetuates.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online. She can be reached at klopez@nationalreview.com.


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