There she is. Front row, second from the left. One of Baltimore’s important female contributions to the US Congress. Barbara Mikulski. Now head of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Not pictured is the other one. House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, daughter of Baltimore mayor Tommy d’Alessandro.
We had Barbara over to dinner once. She was a delightful companion. Charming. Witty. We’ve never met Nancy. She, no doubt, is an agreeable guest, too.
Successful women are usually agreeable and charming. At least on the surface. A man can get away with being grumpy, condescending, or obnoxious. People don’t care. “As long as he can do the job”, they say.
Not so for a woman. She is meant to be good company as well as be a good worker. She can be witty, provocative and sharp-tongued. But no one likes a shrew or a kvetch.
But now there is a “record number of women in Congress”, reports last week’s Financial Times.
Who are these women? What do they want?
We studied the photo of them lined up on the Capitol steps. Whew! Middle-aged. Frumpy. With a preference for the colour red. It seems statistically unlikely that you could get that many women together in one place and not have at least a few pretty ones. But the Congressional dames defy the odds.
They are alike in another way, too. We looked to see where they came from. We already knew where Mikulski and Pelosi come from. Baltimore. But not working Baltimore. Neither has ever had a real, productive job in the private sector, as near as we can tell. Instead, Barbara Mikulski had a job as a social worker before entering politics. She’s now the longest-serving woman in Congress.
Pelosi went straight into political zombiedom too… following on the heels of her father. She may never have had any real job in her entire life.
But what about the new gals? The National Journal profiled the newly-elected women in the Senate.
Mazie Hirono seems to have done real work… at least up until puberty. But her adult life has been a series of government jobs and political races. She was elected to the House in 2006 and now has graduated to the senate.
Deb Fisher. No mention of any job in the private sector – ever.
Elizabeth Warren had already made a name for herself on the national stage, before getting elected to the Senate. Like Ms Hirono, she did real work… until about the age of 17. Then, she got into academia (claiming to be a Cherokee to give herself an edge with the admissions office)… and then politics.
Tammy Baldwin has similarly been feeding at the public trough practically all her adult life.
Ms Heitkamp, like the others, spent almost her entire career in zombieland. She claims to have worked, briefly, for Dakota Gasification. But even this company was – perhaps – a recipient of synfuels, clean coal or other boondoggle funding.
Heidi Heitkamp attributes her affection to the Democratic Party to her grandmother, who “always reminded us that FDR put food on the table”. Has she never wondered – in some quiet moment, just before the phone rang – how FDR could possibly put food on any table? He was no farmer. He gave up none of his money to buy food for others. He had no food to put on the table… and no means to put it on.
Not thinking about things too much seems to be a shared attribute of this, the distaff side of the Senate Class of 2012. Nevertheless, the New York Daily News suggests that the increase in the number of women will be a good thing.
Hope abounds that record number of women in Congress will ease bipartisanship and action
The newly sworn-in 113th Congress has already earned its spot in the history books, with a record-breaking number of both female senators and representatives taking office Thursday.
Capitol Hill will now be home to 20 female senators and 82 female representatives, many of whom hope their presence will help usher in a new era of bipartisanship in Washington.
“We’re less on testosterone,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told ABC’s Diane Sawyer of her class, which will overtake one of the least-productive Congresses the country has seen in over 60 years.
“We don’t have that need to always be confrontational. And I think we’re problem solvers, and I think that’s what this country needs.”
Feinstein’s comments were echoed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who said that she and her female colleagues will have an important role in legislation because they tend to be “more collaborative” than their male counterparts.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) agreed, adding that women are naturally “less confrontational.”
They will “get things done”, say the reports. But what things? And isn’t that the problem with Congress; hasn’t it done enough already?
Why is unemployment so high? Isn’t it because Congress passed so much work-related legislation and erected so many impediments to industry that the real price of labour is now higher than the labour is worth?
Why is the economy in a funk? It is because Congress has burdened it with so many regulations, costs and zombie-protection measures it can hardly move.
Why is wealth so unevenly distributed? It is because Congress and its central bank give out money and credit to their friends, not to the people who earn it.
And how come the real GAAP-accounting deficit (including unfunded liabilities) for 2012 was $7trn – nearly half the whole friggin’ nation’s GDP? It is obviously because Congress spends money it doesn’t really have on things we don’t really need.
… which is the consequence of Washington’s most important rule: to get along, you go along.
An Iowa congressman goes along with subsidies to zombie fisheries in Alaska. In return, the Alaskan signals that he will support more giveaways to corn producers. A gentleman from the great state of California agrees to bail-outs for Wall Street. The Yankees then look the other way while Hollywood is accorded special tax breaks.
And now, we are supposed to believe that having more women in Congress is a good thing, because they are “less confrontational”?
Confrontation is just what Washington needs. And a good kick in the pants. Let’s hope one of these ladies has the balls to do it!
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