Sunday, July 03, 2005

Joint entry from Ava and C.I. as we take on the latest op-ed sub

The National Organization for Women's annual convention began Friday morning with an agenda that included discussions about the morning-after pill and feminism in popular culture, along with the election of the group's president.
A few hours later, the gathering had a new focus.
After the resignation of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was announced Friday, NOW's young feminist task force held an emergency session for three hours. The members talked about ways to mobilize young women, including college students, reasoning that they would be the people most affected if a new Supreme Court justice helped overturn the right to have an abortion.

The only reason the above isn't our pick for spotlight story is because it's so short. And, while pro-lifers chants are quoted, NOW's chant isn't. It's a seven paragraph story, E. Thomas Wood's "Abortion Takes Center Stage at Women's Rights Gathering."

Now, Ava's idea, we'll turn our eye to the op-ed pages where we find . . . and op-ed on the battle about to be waged . . . written by . . . a man. Isn't it always nice to hear a man tells everyone to chill on the issue of abortion? Well isn't it? So calm and distant, detached. We wonder why that is? We also wonder why, in this day and age, the Times can't find a female law professor who can write an op-ed on the topic?

In case you missed it, Maureen Dowd's in the midst of a long vaction (working on a book, if we remember the announcement correctly). We've seen the space go back and forth between genders in a truly Myra Breckinridge manner. That's really not cutting it. When you have only one female op-ed writer (out of six) and she's on vacation (extended, no less) a better effort needs to be made to represent women on the op-ed pages if only for symbolic reasons. A young female journalism wanna' be in high school or junior high picks up the paper today and what's she to think as she sees little Stevie Carter stamping his Keds-clad feet and hissing 'calm down,' next to Frank Rich, Nicky K, Byron Calame (new public editor, yes, they went with a man -- and are you surprised by that?), David Grinspoon, and William Easterly.

Did you count that? We'll do it for you. There are six op-ed columns (that's counting the public editor) today and of those six, not one is by a woman.

What about yesterday, you ask? Surely yesterday they had woman yesterday? Yes, among the four op-eds yesterday, two were actually written by women. This was Saturday, the day after O'Connor's announcement. Dahlia Lithwick*, in a one-shot for the Times, wrote "Robed in Mystery." And what did the filling in for Dowd "regular," Patricia Nelson Limerick, write about "Make Way For Airheads" woops! "Make Way for Angels." [*Note: There are two op-eds by females. There's Patti as regular-fill-in and there's Dahlia Lithwick. See note at end.]

Gail Collins has noted that a woman for a woman alone is not a reasonable replacement when Dowd's on vacation. We quite agree. Reading through the nonsense of "Make Way For Angels," we quite agree. And here's a tip for Collins, when someone pens "Therefore on this holiday weekend . . ." demand a rewrite then and there. Or as Limerick might put it, "then and therefore."

A paragraph beginning with "Alas" should also catch your attention since the century is not the eighteenth. And we'll celebrate Limerick's proposed "Take a Deep Breath Day" when her gauzy haze leaves the op-ed pages and goes back to whatever "recovering secularist" hostel she biked in from. The woman makes Elisabeth Bumiller seem reality based. Ground control to Patty Nelson Limerick, that great WHISH you hear is the sound of all air leaving your empty head via the giant windmills of your mind.

If anyone missed it, Dowd, whether you love her or hate her, or maintain an indifference, has an opinion. And she can convey it in a straight forward manner with no need to come off sounding like a dithering fool at a Renaissance fair.

"Feeling pure, self-righteous, smug and nestled in the company of the like-minded is one of humanity's greatest natural highs." Is she attempting to be confessional? She's high on something, alright, self-love and self-delusion. Is their a rehab for those who fashion themselves as modern day Aimee Semple McPhersons?

"While you eat your solitary lunch, you are to make your best efforts to imagine a representative from posterity occupying the empty seat across the table."

Oh come on, Patti, no one named Patti should be allowed to write with such useless excess. "Representative from posterity?" We'd try to explain to her all that was wrong with that sentence, all the was wrong with the entire column, but she's off to be fitted for another white flowing robe with matching turban and her followers are getting antsy, or as antsy as dazed zombies can get at any rate.

We'd suggest she go off somewhere and start her own cult but, honestly, we fear she already has. Patti's a histographer. That's a nice way of saying "she sure ain't a historian."

She doesn't always go over well, take for instance, wait, let's let her tell it:

I had barely started my sentence when someone in the Boulder, Colo., audience let loose a loud hiss.
And I said the first thing that came to mind, which turned out to be, "Don't do that."

But Patti, they had to. You are, after all, you. And you were trying to rehabilitate the image of John Ehrlichman. We'd ask, "Have you no shame" were it not for the fact that we already know the answer to that -- as evidenced by this paragraph:

Five minutes in his company will convince anyone that John Whitaker is a fine human being. He does not try to conceal or dismiss the bad behavior that produced Watergate. But his testimony asks us to realize that if we devote ourselves to shuddering over Watergate, we will fail to attend to the achievements of the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws of that time. If we narrow Ehrlichman and Nixon's heritage to Watergate, we do a considerable disservice to history.
So I asked an audience to forgo the pleasure of simple condemnation of John Ehrlichman, a man who had surprised me -- and surely would have surprised himself -- by assuming the status of the friend of my friend.

Patti, Patti, Patti, we're "shuddering over" you. Five minutes in his company might convince you of something but that's only because you started off unmoored. For those of us who know the period, we're not rushing to give our props and shout outs to Ehrlichman. While Limerick's certainly allowed to work herself into what ever Dionysian revelry over which ever recovery fad she's on this week, it's probably a good idea not to attemp to channel Julie Nixon Eisenhower while she's still alive. Our opinion.

Normally we don't address the Times' op-ed pages. But there is so little in the main section of the paper. It was this or the Sunday Magazine (possibly we picked the tiger and not the lady with that choice). This falls into the issue of representation which we have addressed before. And note, we didn't address her opinion because a) we weren't sure we could find any actual thought in the piece and b) her column is, quite frankly, not intended for the enjoyment of anyone who's stopped doing endless pencil drawings of horses in spiral notebooks.

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[Note: 7-4-05. Post corrected to note Dahlia Lithwick's op-ed. For those who don't want to give the Times traffic, Christine's written about it at Ms. Musing.]