NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T here’s a scene in Shrek in which the incompetent, ambitious Lord Farquaad is advised that he will need a princess in order to secure his legitimacy as king. Any will do. The magic mirror narrows it down to a choice of three: Cinderella, “a mentally abused shut-in from a kingdom far, far away”; Snow White, a “cape-wearing girl from the land of fancy”; or Princess Fiona, a “loaded pistol who likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.” Indifferent (this is, after all, a means to an end), Farquaad picks the third at random.
There’s a similar scene playing out just now in the Democratic Party, in which the incompetent, ambitious Joe Biden has been told he needs “a woman.” He promised voters there’d be one at the debate with Bernie. He recently told The Late Late Show with James Corden that he would have a short list of up to three by “sometime in July.” Little mention has been made of the specific qualities, talents, or experience that this running mate will have. But she will be A Woman. And she will be “simpatico.”
One pressing reason that Biden feels that he needs A Woman is that he doesn’t have the most spotless progressive record on “women’s issues.” As The Cut’s Rebecca Traister complained, by feminist standards, Biden has a history of “bad stances on abortion,” he “permitted the ill treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings,” and he’s haunted by “allegations that he has spent a career touching women in ways that have made them feel uncomfortable.” This last point is the most pertinent in light of allegations by Tara Reade, who has accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s, when she worked for him.
Biden needs not just A Woman, then, but a whole bunch of women who will abandon yesterday’s principles for today’s political convenience. Fortunately, the Democratic Party is full of such people. In a tweet, Reade wrote that “those who remain silent are complicit to rape” and tagged Ocasio-Cortez, Stacey Abrams, Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Michelle Obama. Perhaps one of them will be Biden’s vice president.
This strategy might be received differently if Joe Biden were a Republican. Readers of National Review will remember that moment when Mitt Romney, during a 2012 presidential debate, was asked by questioner in the audience how he planned to “rectify the inequalities in the workplace.” He answered that, as governor of Massachusetts, when he was looking to fill his cabinet, he made a concerted effort to find female applicants. He went to a number of women’s groups for suggestions, and they gave him “whole binders full of women,” he added. What Romney obviously meant was that he had binders full of women’s résumés. In other words, as an employer, he had a personal history of taking affirmative action with respect to hiring women and promoting gender equality. But because he was a Republican, the media accused him of being patronizing and a misogynist.
But Joe Biden is a Democrat and the liberal media are behaving much like Farquaad’s magic mirror, presenting their own binders full of women. A recent NBC report highlights the “unique strengths and weaknesses” of the ladies who might be picked. Insultingly, Stacy Abrams’s strengths are listed purely as things she cannot control: skin color, age, place of birth, etc. Her weaknesses, on the other hand, relate to experience and suitability: “Abrams’ highest level of government service was as the minority leader in Georgia’s state House,” and she “hasn’t been vetted nationally.” Amy Klobuchar, meanwhile, is described as “a proven winner in Minnesota,” yet is cast off as “unlikely to galvanize minority or progressive voters” on account of her being white. Biden’s policies on gender equality are even more embarrassingly superficial. This week, he pledged to cut funding to the U.S. Soccer Federation if women are not paid as much as their male counterparts.
Though she was a divisive figure, few would deny that Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, earned respect because of what she accomplished. She wasn’t the best woman for the job. She was the best person for the job. That she managed to become prime minister despite the challenges facing women at the time makes her achievements all the more remarkable.
If Biden wins the election, whoever becomes Joe Biden’s Woman will have a significant chance of becoming the first female president of the United States. In that case, she would also have to guide her country through its worst domestic crisis since the Great Depression. It would be a travesty, as well as an injustice, if this Woman was picked for any other reason than merit.