Comfortable and Furious



Tales of a Cynical Species

By Laura Flanders

Matt Cale has a good wife…

Is there anything more inherently vile and difficult to understand than a female Republican? Perhaps a black Republican, or a gay Republican, or even a lower class Republican, but in this case, it is simply beyond my imagination as to why a breathing, rational adult (with breasts) would choose to work against her own interests. It’s more than sleeping with the enemy; it is a deliberate, psychotic drive to elevate short-term profit, careerism, and a quickie in the boardroom over a lasting, long-term (and general) welfare. It might be too easy to dismiss these dizzy dames and bitchy broads as self-serving monsters who use feminism to get to the top then bite back at that which served them, but sometimes the easiest answer is the correct one. Like Clarence Thomas blasting affirmative action while being appointed to the unspoken, but fully recognized “black seat” on the Supreme Court. Or some anti-government wacko serving several decades in the taxpayer-funded military. Or the captain of industry who believes in laissez-faire yet asks for tax incentives, legal protection, and even a little support to shoot strikers from time to time. Perhaps it is limiting, but all women worth their ovaries should support some form of liberalism, that is if they value education, privacy, reproductive freedom, protection against discrimination, and level playing fields on college campuses. Or maybe you’re just some simpleminded West Virginian who believes your husband lords over the trailer and the best woman is of the barefoot, pregnant, and black-eyed variety.

And then there are the six women of this book — Condi Rice, Elaine Chao, Ann Veneman, Christine Todd Whitman, Karen Hughes, and Gale Norton. All despicable, yes, but also traitors to their gender as they serve an Administration that has done less for women than any in recent memory. True, Bush did appoint these females to top posts, but appointments do not always equal power, as in these cases where they serve as PR fronts for more insidious workings behind the scenes. But what an interesting mix, nonetheless. Rice (National Security Advisor), is as asexual as a human being can get, proving the dictum that Republican women either don’t enjoy sex or simply avoid it altogether. There isn’t a shred of evidence that Rice has even kissed a man. I applaud her decision not to have children, but her example speaks to an irony about top Republican women — few have marriages worth a damn and even fewer have children. How can this be in a party that screams about family values until our ears bleed? Or what about Gale Norton, whose first husband recently came out of the closet and was described in a Denver gay magazine as having a fondness for leather? Or Elaine Chao (Secretary of Labor), a Chinese immigrant who married a dippy cracker from Kentucky and from all appearances also hates sex? (I made that last part up, but it sounds right)

And then we also have star power forward Karen Hughes, an intelligent woman to be sure, but a damned hypocrite who was given a coveted news job in the 1970s because of affirmative action and the work of NOW, yet came later to blast such organizations as tools of the devil. Even Whitman (former head of the EPA) thinks of herself as a “self-made” sort, only her father has more money than God and her husband is right there behind him signing checks. To a woman, these tarts had cushy, privileged lives, yet can’t see fit to extend the same benefits to others. Sort of like the CEO who cashes out his stock and lets the rest of the staff lose their shirts. Vile, vile bitches.

But I think I hate Gale Norton (Secretary of the Interior) most of all, first because she once lived in my former shit hole of Thornton, Colorado (which explains quite a bit, actually), and secondly because she has as her mission the privatization of all public lands. Conservation and protection for wildlife are chief concerns of mine, largely because I instinctively value that which keeps human beings far, far away. If Norton had her way, Gettysburg would be a theme park, Yellowstone a never-ending strip of fast food joints and oil derricks, and various wetlands would be reissued as toxic waste dumps, allowing only for the construction of minority-inhabited apartment complexes. Norton began her political life as a Libertarian, embraced James Watt (Reagan’s Interior man, still the most laughable appointment in U.S. history), and later ruled over Colorado as the Attorney General who believed the homophobic Amendment 2 (which attempted to fix into law the idea that gays were not protected by anti-discrimination statutes) was noble, virtuous, and wise. But then she got tapped for the big time by Dubya, if only because they share the belief that land is for stadiums, factories, and shopping malls, not something as wasteful as mere appreciation.

In all, this book is a case study in what women will do to possess a little power, even if that power is largely illusory. And, as far as I can tell, these “hard-working individualists” have been appointed to every job they’ve ever had, which makes it difficult to swallow when they admonish others to “keep trying” in this rotten, getting-worse-by-the-day economy. These are women who took advantage of the system, choked down corporate seed from time to time, used their vaginas to attain positions, and then locked up those same vaginas once the corner office was secured. They are “women” on the ascent, then humorless she-men once the competition has been dispatched. They are Bushwomen.

And then there’s Bush’s wife. While not mentioned in the book, she deserves her own bit of attention. First of all, I hate Laura Bush. Not in the same way that I despise Julia Roberts or Ann Coulter, but I hate her just the same. As First Lady, she is the least interesting woman since Pat Nixon, although both broads had to deal with intolerable husbands, which might excuse certain behavior. But it’s not any political stance or controversial opinion that stirs the fires of my rage, but rather the complete lack of any perspective. In other words, Laura Bush has no ideas at all, and even if she did her lack of expression is inexcusable for an individual with her potential audience. More than that, though, I find Laura Bush so repellant because she is the exact sort of woman that appeals to Republicans — brainless, subservient, and deferential to the real folks in charge — the men.

Laura is always in the background; a simpering dope with a plastic grin who always appears that she’s about to burst into tears at any moment. If you had to explain multisyllabic words to your husband every ten minutes, you’d be frustrated too. Whenever she speaks it is as jarring as that moment in Silent Movie when Marcel Marceau broke the taboo of mimes everywhere. One can imagine her response to inquisitive reporters being something like, “Not now gentlemen, I simply must darn Georgie’s socks and then read him a bedtime story.” She’s so offensively maternal and benign that one hopes for the release of some orgy photos to break the tedium. Hell, I’d like to know more about that car accident from her past where she killed her best friend. Now that’s interesting; not this “I am a teacher” crap, given the fact that she hasn’t seen the inside of a classroom since the Ford Administration.

But Americans seem to love her, probably because they grew tired of eight of years of Hillary Clinton, a woman who actually possessed the gray matter to express intelligent opinions. Where Clinton was fiery, bold, and aggressive, Bush is lazy, silly, and totally irrelevant. I could imagine a hot night in the sheets with Hillary; a little wine, a little conversation, then a quick S&M adventure to keep me honest. From Laura, all I could imagine is a dull lecture about the Dewey Decimal System, or the best way to get out a grass stain. Clinton was and is a woman of the world; an ambitious, savvy individual who wants to change the world and doesn’t give a shit who she alienates. Bush is all about “harmony,” and would rather let her vapid husband speak for her, which is ironic given that he can barely speak for himself.