NBC News kicked off its special “Woman’s Nation” series this week with a fawning profile of Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm and First Man Dan Mulhern — a couple who, according to NBC, exemplify the changing roles of women and men in society. The network could not have made a more ironic choice.
Last fall, as part of the media and Democratic-party scorched-earth campaign to destroy Republican V.P. candidate Sarah Palin, Mulhern claimed that Palin — whose family arrangement with husband Todd parallels the family arrangement of the Granholms — was unfit for office because she had made the decision to work and raise children.
In other words, Mulhern is proud to honor the heroes of a new “woman’s nation” — just as long as they aren’t from the other side of the political aisle.
On the morning of Palin’s convention speech, Mulhern ripped into the Alaska governor on WJR radio in Detroit. “She’s got a five-month-old Down Syndrome baby and a 17-year-old daughter who’s pregnant. This girl is going to go through a lot, and does she know what she’s putting her family through?” Mulhern said to incredulous host Frank Beckmann, who noted that Mulhern’s own wife had three young children when she first ran for governor in 2001.
When asked by this reporter (writing for the The Weekly Standard), a Granholm spokesperson confirmed that questions of managing family and career had never come up in her campaigns for Michigan office. Through her spokesperson, Granholm said that when it came to assessing Palin, “family is off limits,” though she refused to address her own husband’s sexist assault on a fellow female governor.
Of course, NBC ignored all of this as it heralded Michigan’s First Couple as the new American prototype. “A Woman’s Nation” host Maria Shriver praised the Granholms as trailblazers for tolerance and family. “That’s exactly what we learned,” Shriver told NBC Today host Matt Lauer. “Because we wanted to take a look at who the American woman is today, who the American family is today, and get rid of some of the old stereotypes.”
Ironically, Dan Mulhern is evidence that those old stereotypes are still alive.
– Henry Payne is an editorial writer and cartoonist with the Detroit News.