OK, OK, I know I said I’d stay out of it because I’m so disgusted by this campaign season, but I just can’t let some of the misogyny deployed against women candidates this year go without comment. Now, let’s be clear: I would never vote for Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Delaware. I think she’s desperately unqualified, and not very bright. However, when have you ever seen coverage of a male politician like this, courtesy of Rebecca Dana at The Daily Beast?
“She baked me cookies once,” said Paul Angelini, her old neighbor in the city’s Little Italy district. He remembered O’Donnell as sweet, but the cookies as inedible. “Chocolate chip. They were burnt. They were terrible, really.”
Angelini lived with a few pals in a three-bedroom rowhouse nicknamed “the frat house,” and O’Donnell would swing by from time to time to chat. “We probably flirted a little bit with her, and she flirted a little bit back, that sort of thing.”
She would lounge on her front porch in her pajamas some weekends, smoking cigars and drinking wine with a girlfriend. She doted on her cats, but was not always fastidious about her housekeeping, according to neighborhood gossip passed along by her former housekeeper, Pam.She feuded bitterly with the woman next door. And, neighbors couldn’t help but note, for a candidate who’s been so vocally opposed to any pre-marital sexual activity, O’Donnell had frequent overnight visits from her boyfriend Brent, a Philadelphia lawyer who bought her house just before it went into foreclosure and still owns it to this day.
. . . . . .
The magnitude of O’Donnell’s ambition irked some of her old neighbors. Kathleen Benedetto, who still lives next door to O’Donnell’s former home, said she never saw the candidate, an avowed Catholic, at St. Anthony’s—until she launched her first campaign, a failed challenge against Biden in 2008, for which neighbors believe she mortgaged her car and home. That year, O’Donnell and her family walked in the church’s Procession of Saints, wearing campaign T-shirts and handing them out along the way, “like it was a parade for them,” Benedetto said. “She always had this grand idea of moving to Washington. She never bothered to get to know anyone around here.”
Get it? Her performance of femininity was bad! She burned cookies (a gift to a neighbor who sounds like a jackass) and was a bad housekeeper! She drank wine with her friends, and had a boyfriend stay over! ZOMG!!! No one in their twenties living in urban areas ever does that!!! And worst of all, she was ambitious! So far, I don’t see anything on this list that would disqualify her as a U.S. Senator–at least, not if she were a man. But nobody’s bothering to ask neighbors from twenty or thirty years ago what male Senate candidates were like, let alone implictly criticize them because they drank alcohol and burned a batch of cookies. Carl Palladino? Dan Maes? Both of them running to be the chief executive of their states, and complete and total jackasses, with their porn e-mails, homophobic comments, and FBI-undercover and UN-takeover fantasies–both are at leastas unserious as O’Donnell, both of them aiming to represent states much larger than bloody Delaware, but they’re not subject to the same level of panty-sniffing national ridicule. Gee, I wonder why not?
On the other side of the nation, in a recorded conversation, someone on Democrat Jerry Brown’s campaign for governor of California suggested calling his Republican opponent Meg Whitman a “whore,” and he assented to the strategy. A male linguist assures us that this isn’t nearly as bad as calling her a c^unt—and isn’t that a relief! Now, that would really be bad. Meanwhile, the media is distracted by talking about whether calling Meg Whitman a whore is right, wrong, accurate, or inaccurate, and whether calling her a c^nt is worse–instead of talking about boring $hit like public policy, and Whitman’s and Brown’s plans for keeping the lights on in California.
There is something profoundly diseased about a society that idolizes its ignoramuses and disdains its experts. It is a society that no longer takes itself seriously.