The Republican "Mean Girls" Who Are Good On TV


Hoping to remind women who is at least nominally on our side, the White House will issue a report about its own efforts on equal pay. But why talk about substance when we could just talk about Mean Girls?

By any standard, it’s been a spectacularly vapid political season, where in several races politicians have saved cable news some work in dumbing things down, even as there’s plenty at stake. And women politicians have exemplified a sort of split between at-times-uninspiring-but-qualified pols who are struggling for their political lives — including Senators Boxer and Murray out West, who will get President Obama campaigning for them — and the opportunistic right-wing gadflies cheerfully sucking up all the oxygen.

Of course, some people have been vapid for a very, very long time. Here is Maureen Dowd, a woman who has the experience to know better but doesn’t, limiting her analysis of the crop of right wing women to the following:

We are in the era of Republican Mean Girls, grown-up versions of those teenage tormentors who would steal your boyfriend, spray-paint your locker and, just for good measure, spread rumors that you were pregnant.

We agree that Brewer, Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Michele Bachmann, and Sarah Palin (though we’re not sure we agree that Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman belong in that cadre) represent at the very best a slim advance for women, one where the willingness to blithely spout Tea Party and Christian-conservative talking points and tell opponents to man up is a stand-in for actual policy understanding, let alone solutions. But clearly the most important thing to say is that it reminds Maureen Dowd of high school! Did you see that Tina Fey movie?

On This Week, the Delaware Senate candidates did their part in getting people to watch Christiane Amanpour. The key moment of truth was this one:

Amanpour asked him what he thought his opponent’s greatest strength was.
“She’s good on TV,” Coons said, referring to Republican Christine O’Donnell.

He hastily added that she was persistent because she had run for Senate three times in five years, but he was right the first time. In the same show, Meghan McCain said of the same candidate,

“Well, I speak as a 26-year-old woman and my problem is that, no matter what, Christine O’Donnell is making a mockery of running for public office. She has no real history, no real success in any kind of business.”
“[The message] that sends to my generation is: one day you can just wake and run for Senate, no matter how [much of] a lack of experience you have. And it scares for me for a lot of reasons.”

Of course, it’s not Meghan’s fault that her father is at the root of much of this: his catapulting Sarah Palin onto the national stage without actually taking a critical look at her qualifications mainstreamed that mockery like nothing else. With her own endorsement, Palin in turn spawned the copy-of-a-copy O’Donnell.

McCain, by the way, was on a panel that included a circle of experienced older white guys, among which she was clearly called upon to provide the “young woman’s perspective,” which, as nods to generational or gender diversity go, is just depressing. No offense to the apparently well-meaning McCain, but the message that sends to my generation is that one day you can just wake up — as the daughter of a Senator and presidential nominee, perhaps — and just opine about politics, no matter how [much of] a lack of experience you have.

Meghan McCain: Christine O’Donnell ‘Seen as Nutjob’ [ABC News]
Christine O’Donnell To National GOP: Help Me [ABC News]
Playing All The Angles [NYT]
As President Campaigns For Boxer And Murray, White House To Issue Report On Women And The Economy [Political Punch]

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin