Jewish World Review April 5, 2004/ 14 Nissan, 5764

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Keeping sharecroppers in their place | The claws are out for Condi Rice, Mr. Bush's National Security Adviser. Time magazine asks, "Is Condi the problem?" If she is to blame for the failed intelligence on 9-11-01 and the missing WMDs, then it follows as the night the day that she is also to blame for the postwar bumps in Iraq, the violence in Fallujah, the Tyco mistrial, Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, and the outcome on American Idol. The feeding frenzy over the political carcass of this remarkable woman should keep conservative women out of public service, the probable goal.

A former Stanford grand poobah, classical pianist, and Ph.D. in everything international, Dr. Rice has an unassailable set of qualifications for her national security role. But, destruction awaits uppity women who don't toe the feminist line. No matter how she tried to soar, she would be relegated to coach class. No matter what her skills and ability, she was destined to be but a sharecropper in the feminist estate. Condi has conservative cooties.

Political lines have always determined the efficacy of affirmative action programs in presidential cabinets. Clinton appointees Ron Brown, Mike Espy, and Janet Reno made diversity bean counters rejoice. Bush cabinet members Colin Powell, Rod Paige, Gale Norton, Ann Veneman, Elaine Chao, and Condi don't.

Selective affirmative action also applies to U.S. Supreme Court justices. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a Reagan appointee, didn't count until she started voting for abortion and began ranting about incorporating Euro kerfuffle into our judicial decisions. Clarence Thomas, a Bush Sr. appointee, has been treated as if he were the cousin who did time for a pyramid scheme involving really expensive lotion and bug spray.

Justice Janice Rogers Brown, of the California Supreme Court, enjoyed the same type of reception when she was nominated for the federal bench. A conservative black woman, who apparently didn't get the memo on uniform views for powerful women, Justice Brown was pilloried for acts of treason such as interpreting, not making, the law.

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The business world is more gracious, accepting women of all political persuasions, because its fear of the EEOC surpasses its worries about Maureen Dowd rants on hiring women who wear mascara and pearl earrings and have a strong desire to reproduce in a manner that involves a man in the room at the time of conception and ever thereafter. Business is an equal opportunity employer when it comes to conservative women. Not so in national politics. Competent women, who avoid dangling turquoise, flowing skirts and abortion clinics, d

o not have a place in the feminism's monolithic tent. Feminist icons lack the graciousness to acknowledge the power and achievements of conservative women, the wenches.

This irritating condescension toward women such as Dr. Rice and the awkward silence about her unjust treatment come on the heel of feminists' childish outbursts on behalf of Martha Stewart, to wit, "They are only doing this to Martha because she is a powerful woman."

Actually, they were doing it because Martha lied to a gazillion federal officers and tried to alter phone records. Martha, however, leans left. It's a cliquish thing.

Condi is under fire unjustifiably. Shouldn't George Tenet, director of the CIA, be in the eye of the "Get Bush" storm? Tenet's agency missed twice, in failing to discover the 9-11-01 plot and on WMDs. Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, but appropriately feminist, has not only been given a free pass on not seeing 9-11 coming, but has joined in the critical melee vis--vis Dr. Rice. Condi has no help from a sisterhood as she dodges bullets for her competency. Is this not an ideal feminist cause? If you prick a conservative woman, does she not bleed?

The women's movement has assumed, wrongly, that strident extremism is the formula for advancement. But, rebels such as Condi Rice, Elizabeth Dole, Lynne Cheney and other socially conservative women defy that formula and still wield power. Flummoxed feminists react to them with the female stink eye, the too-long stare at another woman who looks better. The green eye of jealousy emerges along political lines. It's a demented reaction, this shunning of the powerful. If the goal was to see qualified women in high offices in corporations and government, then political ideology should not matter.

But the real goal is to see that conservative women remain as sharecroppers on the giant experimental farm of feminism. Selectively supportive feminists have fallen victim to the idiocies of affirmative action and quotas. Political ideology is a prerequisite for residence in the main house. Embrace any contra views and they join with the world to proclaim you a dunderhead. Bon voyage, Dr. Rice. Equality of treatment was not to be, not for the likes of a conservative like you.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.

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© 2004, Marianne M. Jennings