Monday, October 23, 2006


The Post v. Allen

This is one of those typically inane Washington Post articles that amount to little more than puff pieces:

Women's Vote Could Tip Close Contest

Ya think?? Yet this exercise in the obvious gets front page treatment by the Post. The reporter, Lisa Rein, outlines past issues that could hurt both candidates with some women today. I think they are, for the most part, non-issues on both fronts and I was disappointed that Senator Allen chose to make Jim Webb’s 1979 Washingtonian article (Women can’t fight) an issue.

Ms. Rein notes that “Webb has hesitated to address Allen's record on women” so she helpfully does it for him.

“But in Allen's 23 years in politics, some votes and policies have dogged him. As governor in the 1990s, Allen said he would accept an invitation to a males-only country club but changed his mind amid criticism. He also opposed coeducation at the Virginia Military Institute. In Congress, he opposed federal legislation giving women unpaid leave after the birth of a child.”

I’m guessing she’s referring to the Commonwealth Club in Richmond...which is a social club not a country club. The invite was for an Honorary Membership and was traditionally offered to the Virginia governor. I just can’t get excited about this as an issue and pledge never to make it an issue that Senator Clinton attended a females-only college.

As to VMI, in the immediate aftermath of a Federal court order to allow women in, the trustees voted to underwrite a military program for women at nearby Mary Baldwin College. Here’s what the Governor said then about that alternative:

“It is a plan that recognizes the physiological and psychological differences between men and women. And instead of drawing a middle ground that would not fully benefit students of either gender, it strives to reach the same results that V.M.I. currently achieves so successfully with men." Virginia Military Institute - The New York Times

Of course, that was liberal icon Governor Doug Wilder in 1993 (George Allen didn’t become Governor until 1995.) The point is not that Governor Allen opposed the coeducation of VMI – he surely did…as did just about every other politician of note in Virginia – including then Attorney General Mary Sue Terry who led Virginia’s fight against the Federal suit. (Although, in all fairness, Governor Wilder was fairly wishy-washy on this matter)

Finally, Ms. Rein claims “he opposed federal legislation giving women unpaid leave after the birth of a child”

But much later in the article, she expounds on this:

“As a congressman, Allen voted against the Family and Medical Leave Act, which gives workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child or to care for a sick family member. He said the bill, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, was a burden on businesses.”

so it just didn’t give women unpaid leave, it gave all workers unpaid leave. Anyone remotely attuned to George Allen’s political leanings would recognize that this was a vote against federal meddling in business and not a vote against women.

Earlier this year, the Washington Post devoted half-a-rain forest to continuing coverage of the Macaca incident (and to this day, I’ll bet not one in one-thousand people know exactly why it was supposed to be a slur). Here is a link to a Washington Post search of: macaca Allen. Meanwhile, (and there is good chance you never read about this) Jim Webb’s makes reference to “red necks” and “towel heads” – in a Washington Post interview, no less – and here’s the follow-up: Washington Post search of: "towel head" Webb

For the record, I do not think Mr. Webb was being ‘insensitive” or “racist” or (insert whatever other description of bad behavior the PC Police would normally use had this been a conservative Republican uttering these words). The Post probably recognized this and treated the matter accordingly. It simply strains credulity, though , to believe that this instance of common sense is not a reflection of an ongoing double-standard…or that the political sensibilities of the editorial page don’t permeate the rest of the reporting staff.

The Washington Post interview was conducted for an article that ran October 18th – the same day the Post ran its endorsement in the Virginia Senate race. If you feel any suspense before reading it then you just have not been paying attention. Virginia's Senate Race -

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