Attacking Nancy Pelosi

According to Quartz, Nancy Pelosi has — for politicians seeking to turn out an angry voter base in Trumplandia’s November election — become the new Hillary Clinton: the focus of vicious and deeply personal attacks. The Republican base, apparently, can’t stand either woman — or any woman in a position of power.

Pelosi is a prodigious fund raiser, and she knows how to hold her caucus together and how to whip votes. She’s a highly effective power broker in the House. Hillary Clinton is brilliant, and has had a long and storied career and is as tough as nails. Just as the election of Barack Obama has triggered this horrendous racial backlash, Hillary running for President has apparently done the same thing vis a vis powerful women. The insult to white male privilege seems too much for the conservative part of the country to bear.

On Monday while browsing in the University of Washington bookstore, I picked up a book about Lady Bird Johnson. Lady Bird, who signed her name “Claudia T. Johnson”, was a powerful Texas business woman and a deft manager of her mercurial and unfaithful husband. But like other powerful women of the era and social position and genre known as “political wives”, she learned to mask her power and make it less threatening to the men around her. It was a requirement not only for her, but for all Presidential wives. Part of the conservative hatred of Hillary stems from her role in Bill’s administration. Wives, the cultural norms would have said, didn’t presume to have a role in policy.

On some level I can’t believe we’re still struggling with this — the discomfort that powerful women evoke not only among anxious men but among our peers as well.

Gotta get over it, ladies, if we’re ever going to move the country ahead.

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