Award-winning columnist Maureen Dowd has ignited controversy again after referring to the high-profile group of major female conservatives – Palin, Brewer, O’Donnell, et al – as “mean girls.” The move has, predictably, incited debate about the merits of her description from both sides of the aisle.
Dowd went on to call the women the “ideal nihilistic cheerleaders for an angry electorate,” and spent much of her column pointing out that, in her opinion, this new breed of political female seems poised to do anything, including lying, bullying, or belittling others, to get her political sway.
Sarah Palin would disagree with Dowd that there’s anything wrong with her approach. At the moment, Palin stands poised as the unofficial leader of both the Tea Party and the group of conservative women at its core. Like the other women, she is a strongly controversial figure, and also like them, has had her ethics and honesty called into question more than once. Her term as Alaska’s governor was fraught with charges of cronyism and personal vendettas. Yet she has her supporters, who respond to her carefully crafted public image more than her controversial methods.
O’Donnell too has come under fire several times in her Senate race. Allegations have been made more than once that she exaggerated or was dishonest about her educational background. She is routinely attacked for her admittance that she dabbled in witchcraft in high school, and for her opinions regarding sexuality and masturbation. She reportedly questions evolution and carbon-dating as well. While many of her opponents ridicule her, there is also a number of Democrats and others who supported her run for Senate because they believed that she could not possibly win. And it’s looking like she won’t.
Jan Brewer is incredibly controversial for many reasons, but primarily because of her stance on illegal immigration. She signed into law a bill against illegal immigration that is considered the toughest in the nation, and gets widespread criticism for coming off to some as being racist because of it. She also has received what her opponent Terry Goddard would call well-deserved criticism for being vocal about her objection to Obama’s stimulus plan while taking stimulus money for her state without complaint.
Dowd has a point, but I don’t think that this group of conservative women is actually a unique problem unto themselves. How many male politicians this year, including just yesterday with the Paul-Conway debate, have exhibited extremely poor behavior? I do think these women are mean; opportunistic; and, frankly, in many cases, incompetent – with a healthy dose of selfishness that is leading them to fight for what they want rather than what is good for the American people. The attitude of these ladies is sick and nasty, and above all else, is probably one of the biggest things that needs to change within American politics. And you know what? That just proves they’ve learned to run with the boys.
Maureen Dowd, “Playing all the angles.” NewYorkTimes.com
Dana Perino, “Mean Maureen.” NationalReview.com
Jo Becker, Peter S. Goodman, and Michael Powell, “Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes.” NewYorkTimes.com
Katie Connolly, “Profile: Christine O’Donnell.” BBCNews.com
Casey Newton, “Jan Brewer’s Fortitude Brings her success.” AZCentral.com