Thursday, September 17, 2015

The GOP Debate I Didn't Watch

I didn't watch last night's debate because
a) life is short,
b) I can watch pretend-wrestling done by more skilled people elsewhere and
c) it's too early to be drawn into giving fluffy style points for how the (suicidal?) dives of various wannabe candidates might look.

So my comments here are based on a few things others have written about the debate.

For the political geeks the debate was about the Republican power structure trying to get rid of Donald Trump's popularity surge.  But Manly Billionaires Who Know Nothing have always been dear to the heart of many American voters.  (If that guy made so much money (after having inherited a load of it), surely he must be capable of steering the still-most-powerful country in the world?  Just look at Atlantic City today!  And all his wives looked like fashion models!  He clearly lurves women and will be great for women's rights.  That autism comment?  Who cares!  The guy is a plain talker who calls it as he sees it.)

Then there are the much-edited  Planned Parenthood videos  and their use as bloody meat for the forced-birthers in the Republican Party.  From a quote I heard this morning, it sounds like Fiorina*, for instance, is arguing that women go and abort fetuses just so that Planned Parenthood can make money out of tissue donation.

The question about which woman might hypothetically belong on the American ten-dollar-bill provoked answers that beautifully demonstrate the obliviousness of quite a few Republican male politicians when it comes to women's issues.  Those guys spend almost no time thinking about women in other than sexual and family roles!  Jeb Bush**, for example, proposed Margaret Thatcher as the right woman to put on that bill:

"Probably illegal, but what the heck?" he joked Wednesday night. "Since it's not going to happen: A strong leader is what we need in the White House, and she certainly was a strong leader that restored the United Kingdom into greatness."
Other candidates suggested Rosa Parks, while Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump named members of their family.
Carly Fiorina, the only woman on the debate stage, said that she would not change the bill at all.
"I think, honestly, it's a gesture. I don't think it helps to change our history," she said. "What I would think is that we ought to recognize that women are not a special interest group. Women are the majority of this nation. We are half the potential of this nation, and this nation will be better off when every woman has the opportunity to live the life she chooses."
Rosa Parks would be a good choice.  But proposing a family member to be put in a bill as an example of someone worthy enough for being there is what little children do!  It's not something that I expect from politicians, unless they never really think about women outside those sexual and family roles and wish to stress that.  I'd give those proposals a failing grade. 

Margaret Thatcher is a slightly better proposal.  Perhaps Great Britain should be rejoined with the US so that the bill doesn't honor a foreign leader?  Jeb Bush would get a C- for that choice from me.

I'd give Fiorina an A- for her comment.  The minus is deducted from ignoring the importance of symbolism in politics.  It does matter what types of faces we see honored.  Besides, perhaps the future Ben Carsons, Mike Huckabees and Donald Trumps would learn a few other names than their female family members from those hypothetical women on ten-dollar bills.

The reason I write so much about this trivial incident is that it reveals something very worrying:  Women's political concerns are simply not taken seriously at all, as shown by the inability of so many of the Republican candidates to even think of a famous American woman.

Finally, the bunch of people in this debate is a good example why "diversity" is not the same thing as fair representation.  The panel members had a white woman and a black man, so in the minds of some it the panel was diverse.  But that didn't make it a microcosm of the American adult population.

*She says that fetuses are aborted "in order to harvest body parts".  In other contexts her comments were more incisive and even feminist, pointing out certain clear sexist themes in the debate.

** Jeb Bush also produced the biggest lie of the debate, the one we pretend not to notice, when he said his brother kept Americans safe from terrorism.