Ah, Madeleine, you’re better than that

I really liked Madeleine Albright when she was secretary of state, and not just because she coined the phrase about the U.S. being the “indispensable nation” in world affairs, which encapsulated the responsibility our nation has at this juncture in its history as well as I’ve seen anyone else do it.

So I hate to see her stooping to allow her name to be affixed to another of those hyperbolic rants that I get, several times a day, from the DCCC:

Brad —

It seems every time women take one step forward, extremists try to push us back.

Here in America, Republicans have launched an all out attack on women’s rights…

Oh, really, Madame Secretary? All-out attack? So I suppose women are just being rounded up and thrown into concentration camps en masse, without regard to habeas corpus. Because that’s what an “all-out” attack on rights would look like.

And this from someone who had to deal, on behalf of this nation, with places of which such things might actually be true?

She should leave this stuff to James Carville and Nancy Pelosi and the other usual suspects whose names appear on these things. She should value more highly her reputation for having a sense of proportion.

24 thoughts on “Ah, Madeleine, you’re better than that

  1. bud

    With a few mouse clicks I could find a dozen comparable comments from John McCain or Lindsey Graham. It’s just politics. Everyone understands the hyperbolic nature of it.

    But Albright’s point is a good one. The GOP for some inexplicable reason does seem to be focusing on issues that have an adverse effect on women’s health. Seems like a good point to be making in the run-up to the election.

  2. Brad

    All I can say is, Wow.

    What do you mean, “have an adverse effect on women’s health?” Is someone conducting something like the Tuskegee Experiment on them? Are Republicans infecting women with smallpox to see what would happen, or substituting placebos for antibiotics?

    This is exactly why I hate that all of a sudden we’re talking about all this Kulturkampf stuff. Those who wage such battles won’t even use plain language and say what they mean.

  3. Brad

    Oh, and by the way, if this is about the contraceptives thing (which is usually what culture warriors on that side mean by “women’s health,” as though pregnancy were a disease or something), it was DEMOCRATS who pushed that one to the front burner, not the Republicans.

  4. bud

    Are you kidding? The only thing that needed to happen with the contraceptive thing is that the organizations in question just needed to respect the law. Democrats didn’t bring this up, it was the Catholic Church and their conservative minions. Sheesh. Of course this is a health issue. Making contraceptives easy to obtain is very much a health issue. It’s an issue that everyone thought was settled 40 years ago. But noooooo. We have this medieval organization that wants to push it’s religious intolerance down everyones throat and the end result will be women who are pregnant without any way to pay for the child. But that’s not even the worst of it. Apparently you missed the part about women trying to get the contraceptives for non-birth control reasons. Those women are suffering health effects because of it. So don’t give me this crap about the Democrats starting this. In the words of Rick Santorum, that’s Bulls***!

  5. bud

    But it’s more than just contraception. The GOP is going after women in everything related to pregnancy. Here’s what they’re trying to do in Wisconsin:

    Wisconsin GOP Legislators Go After Single Mothers
    Katha Pollitt on March 26, 2012 – 11:46 AM ET

    If you had any doubt that Republicans have an even bigger anti-woman agenda than their love of compulsory vaginal probes might suggest, consider Wisconsin’s Senate Bill 507.

    Co-sponsored by two GOP state legislators, Senator Glenn Grothman and Representative Don Pridemore, it directs the state to prepare educational materials that blame “nonmarital parenthood” for child abuse and neglect and “emphasize the role of fathers in the primary prevention” of same. Don’t be fooled by that gender-neutral abstraction “parenthood.”

  6. Silence

    A few years ago I had the pleasure of hearing Sec. Albright speak at the Dartmouth College commencement. She told a really funny story about how all of the Wellsley first-year ladies were required to pose for topless “posture” photos and that the same photos were ending up in the archives of some Yale fraternity house, as I recall. It was a pretty funny story.

  7. Lynn T

    I’m confused about how use of the term “women’s health” implies that pregnancy is a disease.

    I’m also confused by your statement that Democrats pushed contraceptives to the front burner. They publicized it when some Republican candidates made it very clear, very publicly, that their views on contraception are aligned with the most conservative elements of their religious group. This contrasts with the majority of the Vatican II theologians who studied the issue, and recommended that the pill should not be prohibited. Candidate Santorum also said that Kennedy’s statement on separation of church and state made him want to “throw up.” I suppose everyone could just agree that there is nothing to worry about here, nothing to see, just move along, but to me that seems to be asking a lot.

  8. `Kathryn Fenner

    Brad–The safest, best health outcome for women is oral contraception. It provides significant protection against ovarian cancers and other female cancers, and is the gold standard to prevent pregnancy. Abortion, in a medical environment, is also safer for a woman that to carry to term. Pregnancy and childbirth are significant health risks, even in modern times with good prenatal care, etc.

    For purposes of many employee protections, pregnancy is treated like a disease. You have to give the same leave,health coverage,accommodations, etc.

  9. Brad

    Let me take you back to what I said before… however much someone can rationalize using “women’s health” to refer to something that can be seen as a subset (or a subset of a subset) of that category, it is NOT what anyone would fairly term clear and direct language.

    If you’re talking about contraceptives, say “contraceptives.” If you’re talking about abortion, say “abortion.” Saying “women’s health,” as though one’s political opponents were seeking to deny coverage for cancer treatment and swine flu and broken legs, etc., is at best an attempt to engage in euphemism, and at worst a completely dishonest way to argue.

  10. `Kathryn Fenner

    But reproductive care is a subset, and a huge one, of women’s health. The GOP is seeking to seriously curtail access to a major–THE major–health care aspect for women of reproductive age. I spent more on birth control pills, with excellent insurance, including the mandatory office visit, that anything else when I was using them.

  11. Brad

    I didn’t say anything wasn’t a health issue. I said “women’s health” is overly vague when what you mean is “contraception.”

  12. Tim

    if you hold that both contraception and abortion should be illegal, then what difference does it make if someone uses the term “women’s health”? You can just transpose the terms. Calling something ‘completely dishonest’ is over the top. The Department of Defense is really the War Department, but you don’t blush at that term of art.

  13. Brad

    I’m glad you brought that up, because it helps to illustrate my point.

    In 1944, the War Department was well-named, because every resource it had was totally dedicated to winning a war. After that, the department had the task of managing a huge portion of government that existed, and operated, whether there was a war or not. When there wasn’t a war, it existed as a deterrent, and as the iron fist in the velvet glove of diplomacy. In peacetime, it actually is more of a “defense” department than a WAR department.

    That said, the name is far from perfect. “Defense” implies that it doesn’t do offensive operations, which we know not to be true (and, unless we’re Ron Paul, don’t WANT to be true — a military without offensive capability is little better than a Maginot Line).

    “National Security Department” would come closer, but the fact is that the responsibilities of that department are broader, embracing the collective international security that is very much in this country’s interest.

    In other words, the problem with the names it has had is that they are not sufficiently broad to take in all of the department’s responsibilities.

    The problem with using “women’s health” to mean “contraception” is the opposite. It’s TOO general, and describes something that merely has an overlapping subset with what is really being discussed.

    It would be like the National Guard’s responsibilities in a natural disaster as “Defense Issues.” Yes, there’s a relationship between the two, but it would be a misleading way of speaking.

    Follow me?

  14. bud

    Tim, that was a very good point. I don’t use the term “defense spending” because it is so utterly ridiculous.

    In the context it is being used by Ms. Albright and others the term “women’s health” seems appropriate. Contraception and abortion are the two areas that seem to affect women and women alone. Breast cancer occassionally affects men. Any type of reproductive organ cancer has a counterpart with men so those don’t really apply. The more you think about it the more appropriate the term “women’s health” as used in this argument becomes.

  15. Tim

    I follow, but you are pointing out the nuance in nomenclature as important, full of grey areas. There is no grey in using a statement like “completely dishonest”. That’s a nice euphemism for “lying BS”. Again, that’s over the top.

  16. bud

    How about “Department of Offense”. Not since Pearl Harbor have we actually used our military to “Defend” anything.

  17. Brad

    I said, “at worst.” At best, it’s euphemism. On average, it’s more like willful aversion.

    And when you do that once, it can be innocent. When you do it over and over, and seldom come out and say what you mean, it’s something else.

  18. Phillip

    You’ve got it backwards, Brad. It is precisely BECAUSE of Ms. Albright’s “reputation for having a sense of proportion” that affixing her name to this message means we should take her point seriously.

  19. Rose

    “I didn’t say anything wasn’t a health issue. I said “women’s health” is overly vague when what you mean is “contraception.””

    I think there is too much fixation on the contraception part. There are many women who use the pill for health reasons. A friend of mine is on it for a problem with her ovaries. She doesn’t need it for birth control because her husband had a vasectomy. “Women’s health” is certainly accurate in her case since men don’t have ovaries. Furthermore, there are a lot of “real” health issues associated with pregnancy and giving birth, and for some women access to birth control is even more important due to underlying health issues that would endanger their lives should they become pregnant.

    What makes me so mad is that conservatives don’t want women to have access to this kind of birth control, don’t want them to be able to have abortions, and don’t want to have programs that assist women/families in adequately caring for and educating children that they can’t afford. They seem to think that people won’t have sex. Scratch that. They think WOMEN shouldn’t have sex and be good girls who wait until marriage, which you’d think would lend itself to legalizing prostitution since the MEN would make damned sure they themselves could still have sex. And of course, it’s okay for insurance companies to cover Viagra.

    Finally, conservatives scream about limited government but have not qualms in using government to intrude into people’s bedrooms.

  20. Brad

    I’m going to focus on your last statement, because that points to one of the main problems in our whole left-right paradigm.

    One reason I can’t subscribe to either the left or the right is that both ARE so intellectually inconsistent.

    Suffice it to say that you won’t hear ME “scream about limited government.” Our government is quite sufficiently limited already, thank you very much. Our Framers saw to that. It’s maddening sometimes, trying to get anything worthwhile done in our system of checks and balances, but they were geniuses to come up with it.

    Not that it’s perfect. It goes seriously awry sometimes, as when the court invented an absolute right to privacy in the Griswold decision (or when it invented “separate but equal” before that). But we are left with the fact that it has worked longer than anything else we’ve come up with.

  21. Brad

    And Phillip, I don’t have it backwards at all. I know exactly why the party would want Albright to appear to be mouthing these things rather than the usual suspects. It gives credibility to unsound assertions. Which is why I wish she wouldn’t allow her name to be used this way.

  22. bud

    Finally, conservatives scream about limited government but have no qualms in using government to intrude into people’s bedrooms.

    That is just a true statement. It isn’t a hyperbolic us vs. them. It is just simply an accurate assertion of fact. Conservatives as defined by Rush Limbaugh do, in fact, want to regulate all kinds of sexual activity. The latest tactic is this assault on contraceptives. When you are not permited to say something about a group of people who proudly identify with a specific philosophy then social discourse is blunted unnecessarily. Frankly liberals have done a lot of self-blunting over the years so when something comes along that they get worked up about it is quite refreshing.

  23. bud

    Brad, I going to have to agree with those who say you’re focusing way too much on the specific words chosen by Albright and others on this issue. It’s a pretty petty point.

Comments are closed.