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Risky Romney Business

From the Scrapbook.

Jul 2, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 40 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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The bumptiousness of the left never ceases to amaze The Scrapbook. 

There was the chanting demonstration against President George H. W. Bush in 1990 when he attended his brother-in-law’s funeral in Boston. There was Harvard’s refusal in 1987 to confer an honorary degree on Ronald Reagan—which was Harvard’s privilege, of course, but made ugly by its adolescent gesture of awarding a degree, instead, to Tip O’Neill. There was the rude—indeed, deliberately rude—and widely publicized response of poet Sam Hamill to his invitation to a 2003 White House literary symposium (“I was overcome by a kind of nausea .  .  . ”). Several days ago MSNBC talking head Lawrence O’Donnell spent some minutes on the air deriding Ann Romney’s interest in dressage as therapy for her multiple sclerosis.

But the winner of this week’s prize, in The Scrapbook’s judgment, is Sonia Pressman Fuentes, an 84-year-old cofounder of the National Organization for Women and former board member of the Sewall-Belmont House in Washington.

Since 1929, the Sewall-Belmont House has been the headquarters of the National Woman’s party, and the historic structure largely functions as a meeting place and museum of women’s rights and the suffrage movement. Every year the Sewall-Belmont board confers an award—the Alice Award, named for veteran suffragette Alice Paul—and past honorees include Tipper Gore, Billie Jean King, Cokie Roberts, Olympia Snowe, Evelyn Lauder, and Hillary Clinton.

This year the Alice Award will go to former first lady Laura Bush, whose commitment (in the executive director’s words) “to education, health care, and human rights .  .  . has made an impact on women’s lives both at home and abroad.” The Scrapbook would include her stalwart efforts on behalf of the status of Afghan women and her championship of women’s rights in the Middle East—where such efforts require a considerable measure of courage. But the board’s summary strikes The Scrapbook as a fair description of Laura Bush.

Not so, Sonia Pressman Fuentes, who, on behalf of 21 other self-described feminists, released a letter to the Sewall-Belmont board protesting the award in strikingly offensive terms. Laura Bush, she declared, 

is not known as a champion of women’s rights. She has done little or nothing to advance American women’s equality. .  .  . [S]he has been conspicuously absent in every major arena of American women’s rights. .  .  . To give the Alice Award to such a partisan political figure in an election year is highly questionable. To give it to a non-feminist Republican figurehead, at a time when the Republican Party is doing its utmost to demolish women’s hard-fought rights, reflects a stunning lapse of judgment.

This is, of course, wholly inaccurate, deceptive, and deeply insulting. To its great credit, the Sewall-Belmont board has reaffirmed its choice of Laura Bush, and Sonia Pressman Fuentes’s letter has generated considerable public support for the former first lady and her long history of toil on behalf of women’s rights. This episode is, unfortunately, the sort of irritant that comes with life in the public eye. 

It is, however, worth noting that Sonia Pressman Fuentes’s letter is sadly characteristic of what we might call left-wing intolerance. On the Sewall-Belmont website, for example, the recent event most lavishly touted was a luncheon in honor of Nancy Pelosi, who submitted to questions from MSNBC talking head Rachel Maddow. 

And so The Scrapbook commends Sewall-Belmont House for its nonpartisan approach to the issue of women’s equality, in marked contrast to the rigid, dogmatic, intolerant, and uncouth response of Sonia Pressman Fuentes and her 21 fellow feminists. 

Required Reading

The Scrapbook has its book bag packed for a vacation next week, and the volume we are most looking forward to is America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obama-crats)—the latest from our contributing editor David Gelernter. 

We’ve already dipped into its bracing pages, with great pleasure. Here are a couple of samples: 


It’s hard to believe, but the man we have elected president of the United States doesn’t know what he’s doing. .  .  . He has so often spoken and acted as if he didn’t know what he was doing, hadn’t mastered the minimum job requirements, that at last we have to face the truth. The man doesn’t know enough to be president. 

How can that be, you might ask? The man is a graduate of Columbia and Harvard? Ah, there’s the rub: Obama is a product of what Gelern-ter terms “the rise of Imperial Academia”:

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