Public Radio Cheers for the Superiority of Congressional Females vs. the 'Guy Gulag'

December 3rd, 2006 7:57 AM

Expect a pile of new-Congress stories extolling the historic highs for the number of women in Congress as part of the welcome wagon for Speaker Pelosi. I found one early indicator in a Nexis search, a public-radio show called "Weekend America," distributed on about 80 NPR stations via American Public Media. A report by correspondent Jill Morrison said the new high for women in the House (87 out of 435) is still a "small minority." That would seem to betray the feminist view that at least half of Congress should be female, if it were truly representative of America.

The females-are-superior-humans angle emerged. Democratic congresswomen-elect in the Morrison piece explained how "women tend to be a better part of the process" (Gabrielle Giffords) and "we get so much done because we make lists" and we'll get more government-mandated health care because "women are going to be less inclined to look at the politics of it and just say, you know, I need health care for my family." (Nancy Boyda)

It grew more interesting as the show's hosts interviewed former Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder, who began by lamenting for Pelosi that "everything she does is going to be magnified 1,000 percent." Like her backing Murtha for Majority Leader? "So I guess they voted for her for leader but they didn't want her to lead on that issue somehow. So that's a shame."

In responding to that statement, host Bill Radke put on his best Harry Smith men-are-putzes routine in instructing Schroeder that he usually votes female when he doesn't know what he's doing in the voting booth:

Radke: I've heard antidotically that the public perceives woman as being more ethical and I have to say, right or wrong, if I don't know who either judicial candidate is in a race, I will most often vote for the woman."

Schroeder: "Well, you're very kind."

Radke: "Maybe too kind."

Schroeder: "And here you are, voting against your own gender, right? You know, I always want to say that, and then I bite my tongue. Fortunately, we haven't had any women involved in scandals and I hope it's always that way. But I don't want to say oh yes, we're genetically purer or something. It may just be we haven't been exposed and we haven't been tempted."

Somehow, Schroeder never found those stories about Hillary Clinton's plays in the cattle-futures market. But it grew weirder in public radio-land:

Co-host Barbara Bogaev: "Well, you know, I read your memoir about your life in politics, and you do talk a lot about the Guy Gulag. Do you think women in Congress are fooling themselves if they think it isn't still a factor?

Schroeder: "Well, I think there's a gulag, but I think the gulag is getting much smaller and that's very good. They're much more accepting of women."

Guy Gulag? It makes you want to channel your inner Lloyd Bentsen while you hold a copy of The Gulag Archipelago: "I know Solzhenitsyn. Solzhenitsyn is a friend of mine. You're no Solzhenitsyn."