There are only a few reliable political maxims, but one of the most reliable is this: Any organization devoted to the cause of identity politics will, over time, become more about politics than identity.
The Scrapbook was reminded of this last week when the National Organization for Women (NOW) reluctantly broke down and condemned HBO comedian—we use that term loosely—Bill Maher, who took it upon himself to call Sarah Palin a “dumb [vulgar euphemism for female anatomy mercifully redacted].”
After initially refusing to comment on the matter to Palin’s employer Fox News, NOW communications director Lisa Bennett later issued a statement: “Listen, supposedly progressive men (ok, and women, too): Cut the crap! Stop degrading women with whom you disagree and/or don’t like by using female body terms or other gender-associated slurs.” But Bennett didn’t stop there. “We are on to you, right-wingers,” she said. “You’re trying to take up our time getting us to defend your friend Sarah Palin.”
(Actually, if we really cared what NOW thought, we’d demand they apologize to Palin. On NOW’s website, they have an entire page devoted to “Fighting the Right Wing.” On that web page, you’ll find the January press release “Rep. Giffords Shooting is an Attack on All of Us: NOW Calls on Right Wing to Disavow Violence and Hate Speech,” which accuses Palin of making a “not-so-well veiled threat” on Giffords, with the clear implication that the former governor was somehow complicit in the attack.)
This is not the first time NOW has been dragged kicking and screaming into defending a conservative woman from an obviously degrading assault on her character. In one of the more repellent examples of checkbook journalism, this past October the website Gawker paid an anonymous man to reveal the salacious details of a date he’d had with former Delaware Republican senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell. Her candidacy was already well on its way to self-immolating, and Gawker’s pointless exposé was condemned by nearly everyone across the political spectrum.
The notable exception was NOW. When the Washington Examiner’s J.P. Freire called NOW for comment on the O’Donnell smear, he was twice told by NOW press secretary Mai Shiozaki, “We’re passing on this.” When Freire reported the organization had no comment, the outrage was such that NOW folded faster than Superman on laundry day. They quickly issued a perfunctory statement condemning the attack on O’Donnell, while again taking time to attack O’Donnell’s politics.
But NOW really sank lower than a snake’s ankles when they rushed to the defense of California governor Jerry Brown last year after he was caught on tape agreeing with a campaign staffer that his Republican opponent Meg Whitman was a “whore.” California NOW president Parry Bellasalma responded by saying, “Meg Whitman could be described as ‘a political whore.’ Yes, that’s an accurate statement.” Once again, NOW backed off its defense of the word “whore”—but still endorsed Brown’s candidacy the day after, in order to help the Democrat save face. Let the irony of that sequence of events sink in for a minute.
The reality is that NOW is about combating sexism the way that men who subscribe to Playboy are supporting quality journalism. Lisa Bennett and the rest of NOW would happily fetch a cup of coffee for Bill Maher and let him slap them on the derrière and exclaim “Atta girl!” if they thought it would help them advance their abortion-on-demand, left-wing agenda. ♦
The Governor Told the Truth
The headline was bracing: “Emails Catch Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Lying.” It came on a tweet from @ pwire, the Twitter account for something called Political Wire, an online news digest. The publisher, Taegan Goddard, takes the reports of others, adds links to their articles, and sends them out under his own name, usually with a sensational sentence or two intended to draw people in.
But on Twitter—where news nuggets come fast and furious—the headline is all many people will see. So most people who saw the tease from Political Wire probably believe that Scott Walker was, in fact, caught “lying” about emails. Specifically, that he had not received the level of support from citizens’ emails that he had claimed.
The opposite is true.
On February 17, in the middle of the heated budget dispute between Walker and Wisconsin’s Democratic state senators who had fled the state, Walker held a press conference in which he declared: “The more than 8,000 emails we got today, the majority are telling us to stay firm, to stay strong, to stand with the taxpayers.”