When I was a child, I loved watching Shirley Temple movies. So much more fun to watch the curly-topped child tap dance her way through life than the alternate fare: war movies. Women rarely appeared in war movies – just men chomping cigars and blowing things up.
Ever since I became old enough to vote, I’ve longed to cast my ballot for a female presidential candidate. In my lifetime, I want to experience the sense of arrival that was so clear on the faces of African American voters on the night that Barack Obama was elected.
I thought I might get the chance with Hillary Clinton, but it was not to be. I might even have voted for Elizabeth Dole, because back when, Republican women actually proposed more women-child-family friendly legislation than Democratic men.
And then, along came the Republican Sisty Uglers: Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann.
Sarah Palin, the barracuda-woman who could dress down a deer, “reads everything ” but couldn’t name a single newspaper, journal, or book and who purported to understand foreign policy because she could see Russia from her front porch. Who never stopped to consider whether she might actually be qualified to be Vice President of the United States – a heartbeat away from the presidency – before accepting John McCain’s invitation to be his running mate. I blame him for all this. After all, he was just looking for a cute babe on the ticket to capture the votes of those who make decisions with something other than their brain.
Sarah whetted our appetite for more shoot-from-the-hip, mean girl politicians who could prove they’re just as nasty as their male colleagues. Into the breach stepped Michelle Bachmann – the “thinking man’s” Sarah Palin – a pro-gun, anti-abortion religious fundamentalist who believes that climate change is a hoax and gay marriage will cause school children to become homosexual. A fan of Joseph McCarthy, she’d like to “take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?” Would you entrust the Bill of Rights to this woman?
Michelle said: “I just take the Bible for what it is, I guess, and recognize that I am not a scientist, not trained to be a scientist. I’m not a deep thinker on all of this. I wish I was. I wish I was more knowledgeable, but I’m not a scientist.” That acknowledgement didn’t prevent her from declaring that “there are no studies proving that carbon dioxide gas is harmful” and that, “There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.”
The truest thing she’s ever uttered is that she’s not a deep thinker.
Now, as everyone waits with baited breath to see whether Sarah and Michelle will throw their Brunhilde hats into the Presidential ring, all I can say is: They’re not the ones I’ve been waiting for. If Sarah and Michelle have proved anything, it’s that women have achieved an unprecedented level of equality: they can be as mediocre as men and still be successful. They can also blow things up.