Tina Brown: These victories by Republican women feel like a blow to feminism

posted at 7:03 pm on June 10, 2010 by Allahpundit

Via the ‘Busters, a friendly reminder from the editor of “The Daily Beast” that no matter how diverse the GOP becomes, the authenticity card will always be there to discredit its candidates. Four huge wins by Republican women over male opponents? Oh well: If you’re not pro-choice then you’re not a feminist, no matter how much power you may have or how hard you may have worked to get it. The irony is, of those four, the only one for whom gender became an issue was Haley, and that was only because the Carolina sleaze machine started tossing sex smears at her in desperation. Angle was the “tea-party candidate,” not the “woman tea-party candidate,” and Fiorina and Whitman are already nationally famous as CEOs. Had Will Folks and Larry Marchant left Haley alone, she would have been known as the good-government Sanford disciple. Gender wasn’t otherwise relevant in any race, except in the most superficial sense of signaling to voters that this is “something different” in a year when being something different from the usual Washington dreck is good. Brown, in fairness, recognizes that point, as does Doyle McManus:

GOP primary voters, a deeply conservative bunch, don’t appear to have much of a problem with strong women in public life anymore. Not only that: The GOP is consciously trying to turn gender into a selling point. This isn’t just the march of equality; it’s a strategy. Republican strategists say female candidates should run well this year, when voters are dissatisfied with incumbents of both parties, because women are, by definition, outsiders; they’re not members of the “old-boys club.”…

“Men are always perceived as being in a back room making deals, and women are perceived as being shut out of the back room,” says Linda DiVall, a pollster who has worked with the Republican National Committee…

“Too often the Republican Party is seen as old, rigid, stern and out of touch,” DiVall said in her report. “Recruitment of female candidates, especially from outside government, will help greatly in changing perceptions of the Republican brand.”

I don’t think any of them won because they’re women — if Kang and Kodos had Fiorina’s and Whitman’s advertising budgets, they could have won too — but obviously gender wasn’t a liability either. And there surely is potency in the idea of Haley romping to victory in a southern state over three white male establishment politicians. Based on my limited knowledge of the race, she’s clearly the most appealing of the four — and the polls showed it, race, gender, and religious background notwithstanding. Three cheers for meritocracy.

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