Monday, October 16, 2006

All Pretty and Petite

I don't like Kerry Healey. I don't like her politics, I don't like the administration she's currently associated with, and I certainly don't like her insinuating that lawyers are immoral and unfit for public office because they do their jobs. I'm not wild about Deval "Won't You be My Neighbor?" Patrick either, but at least he's not a) a Romneyite and b) attacking Kerry Healey personally (as much as she's attacking him).

However, I have to take issue with Brian McGrory's article about Kerry Healey in Friday's Globe. McGrory writes about Kerry Healey's personality issues. It starts out fairly innocuously:

Kerry, come on in for a moment. Take off your sneer and stay a while.
First of all, I had to read that about four times before I figured out he was talking about Kerry Healey. Yes, I know the headline on the page reads "Healey," but whenever I think about a Kerry in politics I'm brought screaming back into 2004, which makes me very, very sad. (Aside to John Kerry: Don't run again. Kthnx.) Kerry Healey is not a ray of sunshine, but not everybody is. These people tend to not go very far in politics nowadays, but it's a personality trait.

Then, the article gets nasty:
So allow me to offer an unsolicited observation: No matter how bad you make your opponent seem, no matter how many millions of dollars worth of attack ads that you run, Massachusetts is not going to elect a governor who looks like she spends half her days wandering the laxative aisle of the local CVS.
I'm not quite sure what he means by that, but it seems pretty insulting. She's so wound up she can't take a crap? I would be too if I were running for governor. Politics is a nasty business, especially in Massachusetts, especially when you have a shot at being the first woman (EDIT: elected to, thanks, Michael) the corner office in Massachusetts history. I guess it could have been more insulting if McGrory suggested Healey were walking around CVS looking for some Midol, but it set my teeth on edge. Nobody would write so nasty a comment about a man's personality in a bid for governor. (Except me, but I'm not in a mass-market newspaper. Yet.)

Then, it gets worse.
The Kerry Healey I know downs a six-pack of Coke every day, and not Diet Coke, but the real thing. The Kerry Healey I know doubled back toward a fancy convertible in the parking lot outside a campaign event yesterday when she thought no one was looking, just because she was interested in the car.
Heads up, McGrory: Not all women like diet soda. Sorry. This is a completely sexist way to humanize Healey, by talking about the fact that she really can be a good normal woman, and an extraordinary one at that because she doesn't drink diet soda. If he were writing about Deval Patrick, the diet soda issue wouldn't have come up. I think it's a nasty addition that wasn't necessary that only comes into play because Healey is a woman.

And then:

That Kerry Healey lights into a chocolate cake a la mode at lunch. She gossips about who's dating whom on her campaign, laughingly recounts the time she wouldn't answer a television reporter's quasi-obscene question about how she eats an ice cream cone, and lightly mocks her husband's midlife pursuits.

But none of that personality, none of the humanity, is in any way apparent when you take the public stage.

So here's another bit of advice: Muss up your hair. Ease up on that finishing school accent. Confide your dreams to audiences, rather than harangue them with your fears. Tell us more what you're for, less what you're against.

She's a girl! Who likes to eat chocolate and gossip and makes jokes about oral sex! She's just a girl, folks! Don't look at her professional demeanor that she's cultivated for when she's in the public eye at a press conference or a debate, think about her suggestively eating an ice cream cone. Why does she have to sound so educated? Why can't she use "like" every other word like a human woman? If Kerry Healey walked into a debate with mussed hair she'd get eaten alive. Hell, even Mitt Romney won't go anywhere that would muss his coif.

I can see what McGrory is trying to say-- Kerry Healey is running a campaign that only tells us why Deval Patrick is a bad idea, and isn't giving us an idea of why she's the better choice-- but he states it in a way that trades only on female stereotypes. We've been hearing this same old crap since Hillary Clinton was First Lady. She didn't tread only in libraries and in carefully selected Congressional districts with tight races for Senate like the new First Lady-- Hillary was a professional who had her own agenda, just like Kerry Healey. The good ol' boys need to realize that women in politics have to edit themselves, carry themselves with a high degree of professionalism, or else they get dismissed as a dizzy housewife with money looking for a job. It's one thing to talk about Healey's fascination with cars in a human interest piece, but this is an op-ed in a major newspaper. I'd expect better of the Globe.

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