The Gender Card
by Todd Beeton, Tue Sep 02, 2008 at 09:58:00 AM EDT
Upon returning to LA last night, I turned on CNN and was somewhat dumbfounded by the absurdity and audacity of Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) who twice asserted that James Carville's questioning of Sarah Palin's experience to be Vice President of the United States is "offensive to women."
Eric Kleefeld at TPM picks up on this new gender card strategy being utilized by Republicans when talking about/defending Palin and grabs this bit from the CNN interview last night.
BACHMANN: You know, Larry, I find those comments from James Carville actually offensive -- and especially offensive to American women. There are a lot of very competent American women. Sarah Palin easily is a competent woman. She's proved herself in business. She's proved herself in politics. She has come up from nowhere to be somebody. And she's someone we can all be very proud of. She is one competent tough cookie and I think the American people are going to love her.
KING: Are you saying, though...
CARVILLE: Congresswoman, I don't know how to tell you this, but I supported a woman for president of the United States and spent many hours on this very set supporting a woman of the United States.
What Carville was doing was questioning Palin's qualifications on their own merits, regardless of gender. Bachmann's insistence that Palin not be judged on the basis of her accomplishments at all but instead that criticism is disallowed because she's a woman actually sets the women's movement back decades. So while Kleefeld calls the exchange 'hilarious', I actually think it's far more insidious. The way Bachmann calls Carville's comments offensive to women so calmly, authoritatively with a big smile and the way she comes close to sending Carville over the edge in his response; the charge is so baseless yet she says it with such conviction as only a shameless Republican can, thus leaving the Democrat sort of exasperated. You can watch Bachmann's charge and Carville's response below.
It wasn't so long ago that tactics like this would have intimidated Democrats into pulling punches and prevented them from going on offense. This is clearly the right's strategy here, to threaten any and all critics of Palin as sexist right off the bat so as to cause Democrats from criticizing her at all. Carville was clearly knocked back by it and betrayed some of his on his sleeve emotion when responding. Next time I'd like to see Claire McCaskill or Amy Klobuchar take Michelle Bachmann down instead. I'd like to see her accuse them of being "offensive to women." Bring it on.