November 22, 2006

"No single incident that soured their relationship... it was a series of small irritations..."

From an article about how Jane Harman and Nancy Pelosi don't like each other. I want to keep a close eye on the press to see if they write about women in power differently from the way they write about men. I'm not saying I'm actually seeing anything here, but this story -- about two women who (apparently) can't stand each other -- is luring journalists to spice up their writing with innuendo about how women in general treat each other.
"It's so unfortunate because they're both capable people," said William Coblentz, a San Francisco lawyer who has contributed to both their careers and coffers. "I know them both well, and I love them both, but I believe Nancy felt that Jane was abrasive and aggressive, which she can be."
Mmmm... don't you want hear more?

ADDED: Bob Wright and Mickey Kaus's analysis Nancy Pelosi is thoroughly gender-based -- and replete with extensive comparison to chimpanzee behavior!

38 comments:

Pogo said...

I'll stick my neck out here and suggest that women do in fact wield power differently than do men.

Is it really anti-woman to note this? As stupid as I am, I can see how women vying for power have an approach distinct from males. So what? Is this news? Is it unfair to say it out loud?

Books on adolescent female power struggles abound, like Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls , Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, and Mean Chicks, Cliques, and Dirty Tricks detailing how things aren't all warm and fuzzy among females.

Men do the same thing, but attack their foes differently. When bloodshed isn't available, other forms of force are used (but couched in terms of violence). For women, competition yields an aggression more indirect (and in ways more vicious), where relationships become a weapon, and bullying is social (silent treatment, exclusion, degrading comments, etc.)

Much for fun to watch, the women.

MadisonMan said...

Nancy felt that Jane was abrasive and aggressive, which she can be.

I think I've seen similar phrases about, say, Tom Delay. Joe thought Tom Delay as abrasive and aggresive, which he can be.

My neck is right out there with pogo's...Women do interact differently than men. Ann, you shoulda had a daughter! Still, the "story" seems all whisper and innuendo with little in the way of facts. I'd rather see a story that Jane is a cleaner candidate for her leadership post...that's what the story really boils down to.

hdhouse said...

the beauty is in the eye of the reader here..not the actors.

if joe and bob, politicians both, didn't like each other and there was a "hanging piece" written hinting of more to come, most of us would say who gives a damn. now that you have two females at odds..its wow wow wow "more to come!!".

now i am figuring that females have a tougher time with females (hence ann's interest) than men do. frankly, i like powerful women who work at power. specially if they are democrats!

David said...

Petty power politics, female style, at the expense of national security and serving the interests of the electorate!

Here is an idea! How about appointing the most qualified to a position instead of payback to a political hack!

Pelosi is well on her to way to blowing it big time! So goes Pelosi, so goes Hillary as the well is poisoned!

MadisonMan said...

So goes Pelosi, so goes Hillary as the well is poisoned!

Yes, I frequently decide not to vote for Republican White Males because Bob Ney is corrupt. (rolling my eyes).

SGT Ted said...

If the new women in power choose to act like hormonally crazed high school girls instead of responsible, sensible adults, they deserve whatever is written about their immature behavior.

George said...

Same with Bush and Assad..."a series of small irritations."

The Drill SGT said...

I'm going to make different, rash over generalization. We're been picking on poor Nancy because she's a grandmother, woman etc. Why not blame it on the fact that she's an Italian ;-) This whole thing does sort of have a God Father flavor to it.

I was struck by the main theme of the article. "It's personal", but I sure didn't find any huge reason for it to have happened. No backstabbing support for an opponent, not welshed deal, no stolen spouse, etc.

How would LBJ and Tip O'Neill, legendary male dealmakers and legislative leaders have handled the Hastings matter? I know both could hold a grudge and had long memories, but both seemed to be able to set personal animus aside to make a deal. And unless in LBJ's case the situation required making an example out of someone, I can't help imagining that both, faced with the Hastings matter would say:

"This is too public an issue. I'm going to lose not gain influence if I act in an arbitrary manner in the open right now. I'll be magnanimous now and give Harman the chairmanship, and get her later when things quiet down."

Zeb Quinn said...

I'm with Pogo too. I think Ann needs to accept the facts that men and women are different, that they operate differently, that they rise to power differently, that they wield power differently, that therefore all of those differences will be noted and written about, and that none of that is sexist.

Sometimes it seems like your feminism is stuck back in about 1973.

Tim said...

Oooh, a cat fight! Bring it on, baby!

But seriously, Pelosi (she is the Speaker-to-be, so the burden falls on her) has to realize, fair or not, as the first female Speaker she will be scrutinized more than, say, Steny Hoyer. Exacting revenge upon disliked or disfavored rivals has a long pedigree in politics, but doing so after running on an implicit promise to be more ethical than the recently displaced majority smacks of hypocrisy and politics as usual. Add in that the tool she is wielding is the House Intelligence Committee during a time of war and the benefactor of her animus is an impeached federal judge, and it all adds up to Pelosi being slavish to her personal vendettas and anger, country be damned. It isn't fair, but people judge angry women differently than they do angry men.

In short, she is not ready for prime time, regardless of her gender.

Freeman Hunt said...

For everyone claiming that there is an inherent difference (most have implied "cattiness") in the way women wield power, please provide an illustrative example from Condi Rice. Or how about Margaret Thatcher?

I think it's fairly obvious that both men and women can be extremely petty, and I find it highly annoying and unfair that for women this is looked upon as girls being girls.

Sidenote: It's insulting to paint adult women as being the same as adolescent girls.

bearbee said...

I dunno........seeing a 'dignified' name hollarin' session on Capitol Hill step or maybe a real cat fight between the gals in the Capitol Hll parking lot...or better yet a smackdown during a session of the House ...... would be entertaining........

Pogo said...

Re: "It's insulting to paint adult women as being the same as adolescent girls."

Not adolescent, but pre-adolescent. The horrible story of adults is that real life politics can be easily understood merely by expanding upon 6th grade schoolyard politics, but adding experience, education, and tactics. The strategies are, i believe, inherent, inborn.

I don't think it's insulting to say so at all. There are tons of books about this kind of behavior. I don't believe that we are determined to behave thus. Instead, adults can and do rise above this. That's what maturity, philosophy, and religion can accomplish.

But whenever little scrapes like this get publicized, the ancient undercurrent shaping social organization is exposed.

It ain't just women. Recall Schumer's dissing of Kerry. Bush's near-irrational loyalty demands. LBJ's and JEHoover's crushing of opponents. Joe Kennedy's methods of winning-at-all costs. Roosevelt's destruction of SCOTUS in the 30s.

Neither gender comes out smelling very good when politics is involved. But Thatcher -and Rice, it appears- are different, and wonderfully so, thank God.

Freeman Hunt said...

It ain't just women. Recall Schumer's dissing of Kerry. Bush's near-irrational loyalty demands. LBJ's and JEHoover's crushing of opponents. Joe Kennedy's methods of winning-at-all costs. Roosevelt's destruction of SCOTUS in the 30s.

Neither gender comes out smelling very good when politics is involved. But Thatcher -and Rice, it appears- are different, and wonderfully so, thank God.


So we agree that there isn't some special "girlie" power vying inherent to women. Good.

Zeb Quinn said...

For everyone claiming that there is an inherent difference (most have implied "cattiness") in the way women wield power,. . .

Don't know about others, but it's not what I'm claiming. I'm saying that women are armed with an array of tools and resources that they employ, most of which are very different from what men have at their disposal.

Me, personally, after watching Lynne Cheney deftly dissect Wolf Blitzer a couple of weeks ago, she's my new hero. I knew she was capable, but I never realized how smart, informed, and lightning quick she is. She should be running for high office, and I'd be supporting her if she were.

Shanna said...

If the new women in power choose to act like hormonally crazed high school girls instead of responsible, sensible adults, they deserve whatever is written about their immature behavior.

Sure, Pelosi deserves it. But what about the rest of us that will have to live with the fallout? What I don’t want to see is wide generalizations about women in power based on one San Francisco Grandmother who is acting like an idiot.

There are plenty of examples of women in power who do NOT act like they are staring in Mean Girls 2: Red White and Ridiculous.

MadisonMan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MadisonMan said...

Wolf Blitzer is an idiot. If you're talking to an author about book passages that are embarrassing, and you claim the author you're talking to has a book with such a passage, have the book there so they can read from it. Available from amazon.com -- only $300! (Yikes!)

Freeman Hunt said...

... competition yields an aggression more indirect (and in ways more vicious), where relationships become a weapon, and bullying is social (silent treatment, exclusion, degrading comments, etc.)

Of all the people I've ever known, the person who most embodied the sentiment above was a male coworker. Second most was yet another male coworker.

The idea that all women engage in power relationships the same way, some specifically female way, is simply wrong.

Garage Mahal said...

The Kaus Kidz are back in the house!

Bruce Hayden said...

Rereading the article, it still looks like this is a Pelosi problem, and not a Harman problem. Pelosi seems to be the one who is maybe acting like the middle schooler.

That said, one must remember that the reason that DeLay was so feared and despised was just that - payback. And, maybe Pelosi is being portrayed the same way - as someone who is willing to engage in vendettas (but the use of that word reinforces what someone above pointed, that this may be more about her being Italian than being a woman - though I think from our experiences in Iraq, that Arabs would be worse).

I will also admit that Pelosi is between a rock and a hard place here. She needs the CBC, and would have to backtrack on promises made, how ever ill advisedly, to them. And, of course, there is the nutso left wing of her party that is also pushing back against Harman. Never mind, that she is only becoming Speaker because of the election of a bunch of new Representatives who are much more likely to prefer Harman to Hastings.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think what is unfortunate for femanism is that Nancy Pelosi is the woman who is rising to this level of power. I know that there are plenty of women out there who could be a better model for women in power. But she is the one we have.

It is also unfortunate that we have to go through the transition of asking whether a woman can handle this sort of job. But we had to do that with the Supreme Court, the military, medicine, law, space,etc. But we have had to do it with other groups too - for example, JFK's Catholicism was a relatively big issue in his 1960 campaign. But after he showed by his actions that he was not being controlled by the Vatican, etc., being Roman Catholic has ceased to be an issue at the national level. I see African-Americans, and maybe Mormons, still having to overcome this hurdle. Once the threshold has been crossed successfully, it is becomes much less of a hurdle in the future.

The Drill SGT said...

Freeman Hunt said...
For everyone claiming that there is an inherent difference (most have implied "cattiness") in the way women wield power, please provide an illustrative example from Condi Rice. Or how about Margaret Thatcher?


Seems to me that the press likes to take fashion shots at both Condi and Margaret.

S&M Black power boots comments come to mind on the one hand and "dowdy shopkeepers wife with a hat and handbag on the other.

since the press generally isn't conservative and both these women aren't liberal, likely both of those comments were from the left of press.

Elizabeth said...

Zeb: "I'm saying that women are armed with an array of tools and resources that they employ, most of which are very different from what men have at their disposal."

I'd love an example of those tools and resources women emply that men don't.

The Drill SGT said...

And, maybe Pelosi is being portrayed the same way - as someone who is willing to engage in vendettas (but the use of that word reinforces what someone above pointed, that this may be more about her being Italian than being a woman - though I think from our experiences in Iraq, that Arabs would be worse).

Or maybe both ;-) I remember talking with a Venetian woman once and she scoffed a Sicilians and called them "baptized Arabs". That Venetian Muslim hatred goes back a while as well.

Having said that, I have no idea where the D'Alesandro family hails from in Italy

Pogo said...

Re: "The idea that all women engage in power relationships the same way, some specifically female way, is simply wrong."

of course it is. One would be foolish to do so. The stereotype has limited validity. We tend to zero in on examples that endorse the bias, and ignore contrary evidence.

But I don't think it's disputable that women are different than men in seeking and maintaining power. Not all women, not all the time, but I think Shakespeare noticed it. Even I notice it, and as I said, I ain't the brightest porchlight on the block.

Case in point: A middle aged guy, say, me, walks down the street and sees two adolescent males in hip hop gear ahead. I cross the street and adopt a threatening posture. I need to do this far, far less than when there are two women ahead of me. But not never. Second case: My colleague, a female MD, has to pay special attention to the office pesonnel (all women): birthdays, treats, etc. I get off scot free. If she avoids that like I do, there's hell to pay. Not always, not every woman. But often enough to notice, and I'd be foolish not to pay heed. Yet I have had bosses male and female cut from the same cruel cloth, behaving destructively. How they did it seemed gendered.
Nature? Culture? Don't know.

Stereotypes are somewhat useful. But women aren't madonnas, primadonnas, medusas, macbeths, or whores. Men aren't messiahs, bullies, cowboys, god's gift, peter pans, eunuchs, or momma's boys. But the themes recur. It's pretty boring once known. And you hope for more, perhaps vainly. So no one's better or worse. Styles vary. So what?

Coming full circle then, it seems I have refuted my own point. But just like a man, I declare victory and certitude regardless.

Gahrie said...

It seems to me that it might have touches of the "woman" thing, and perhaps touches of the "Italien" thing, but is mostly about the old school, eastern, Democratic Party, machine politics thing.

Her biggest beef with Harmon is disloyalty, and in machine politics, loyalty is everything.

bearbee said...

On the other hand maybe the gals will settle their differences like gentlemen ... maybe .........

chickenlittle said...

Zeb quinn said: "I think Ann needs to accept the facts that men and women are different, that they operate differently, that they rise to power differently, that they wield power differently, that therefore all of those differences will be noted and written about, and that none of that is sexist."

I think Ann might already realize this, but that's not the point of this thread. The point is whether the press uses stereotypes and distortions in their coverage absent any basis in fact.

Cedarford said...

POgo - Roosevelt's destruction of SCOTUS in the 30s.

That is one of the more misrepresented situations in US history - right up there with the Rosenbergs and other "innocent" being victims of America's "undue fear of Communist democide and domination" in the form of McCarthyism. (We know now for sure after access to KGB files, that the accused Commies - Hiss, Hollywood 10, Rosenbergs - were Soviet agents and guilty as sin)

The SCOTUS of Roosevelts time was Old Guard, fancying themselves as the Imperial Judiciary that would protect the Old Order from DFR and the will of lesser Americans who merely vote. So they methodically set to work undermining the New Deal with specious, broad interpretations that harbinged the loose Warren Court's methodology.

Roosevelt's Court-packing response was denounced in some quarters as overreaching, but it did indeed throw SCOTUS into consternation and a collective decision to abandon fighting reforms Americans wanted FDR to undertake. They left the New Deal alone after that, ceasing their broad attacks on legislation and FDR's leadership and policies.

This sudden end to SCOTUS's philosophical war on the New Deal was properly called at the latter 30's as, "The Switch in Time that Saved Nine".

Pogo said...

Re: "...methodically set to work undermining the New Deal with specious, broad interpretations..."

1. The Rosenbergs and Hiss were indeed guilty. Interestingly Hiss worked for Roosevelt while spying for the Soviets. He didn't need to, though. Socialism continued apace.

2. We interpret FDRs meddling into the courts differently. I suggest that it was a direct path from the court-packing threat to "the loose Warren Court's methodology" you describe. The New Deal has been pilloried by folks better than I. Economically, it lengthened the Depression and increased it severity.

3. Regardless, FDR's use of power was my point, not whether or not you agreed with the result.

Pogo said...

Elizabeth "I'd love an example of those tools and resources women emply that men don't"

This was definitively proven in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves when Grumpy warned the other six little men that they "gotta watch out for her womany wiles."

AllenS said...

Elizabeth said: "I'd love an example of those tools and resources women emply that men don't."

I've had more than a few women say that I should never underestimate the "power of pussy."

Cedarford said...

Posting OT after a little FDR sidetrip, one thing that isn't mentioned in the fight of the two multimillionairesses, Harman and Pelosi - is the CBC.

The Congressional Black Caucus is key in Pelosi's problem because Hastings is a well-regarded member of good standing in their group - his impeachment difficulties long since forgiven.

They have laid down their marker over Hastings.

The CBC has long-standing sentiments of being slighted by Democratic leadership about being passed over for Leadership spots and committee posts in favor of white money-raisers, especially Jews. And of having members singled out for attack with little effort by leadership to defend folks like Clayton Powell, Mosely-Braun, McKinney, or Jefferson while very corrupt white Democrats get the "circling of wagons" treatment.

Besides not getting along with Pelosi, Harmon has also had her differences with key black members of Congress, including from her delegation. Harmon has also got a real battle going on with liberals over her support of the Iraq War and use of the Israel Lobby, AIPAC, to influence powerful Jewish donors to pressure the Leadership on Harmon's behalf. The idea of a Committee Chair of our National Inteligence beholden to a foreign lobby for her job also should give us considerable pause.

So Pelosi's "Harmon-Hastings" problem goes well outside an estrogen-fueled catfight. She faces war with some very important senior black (and liberal) members of Congress if yet again the rules are twisted to give a white (and Jewish) person a plum job, over a black.

It is personal.

But personal to quite a few members past Harmon and Pelosi.

Harmon is cleaner and better qualified than Hastings, and on the merits, she should get the job. But other dynamics make Pelosi's call to give Hastings the job or open up a less sensitive Committee Chair post to him a call she might have to make.

Revenant said...

Yes, I frequently decide not to vote for Republican White Males because Bob Ney is corrupt. (rolling my eyes).

It isn't rational to think that Pelosi is an indicator of how Hillary would govern. But it also isn't realistic to think that Pelosi won't be *perceived* as an indicator of how Hillary will govern. The reason is that women in power are rare, compared to men.

A male President is nothing unusual, but a female President is unheard-of. Humans, confronted with the strange and unusual, instinctively grasp for parallels and examples to help them understand what's in store for them. They will seize on Pelosi as such a parallel, just as many people seized on Vietnam as a parallel for Iraq despite the two wars having little in common.

Bruce Hayden said...

Cedarford

At least most of those African-Americans you note were caught red handed. Jefferson, of course, is the Representative who was videotaped taking a $100k bribe, commandeered a National Guard vehicle in order to pick up what now appears to be his bribe money from his house in NOLA, and then took so long that the vehicle got stuck. Shortly thereafter, most of the marked bribe money was found in his freezer wrapped like left-overs.

While there may be White Democrats more corrupt, it is clear that he, and probably the other African-American Democratic Representatives were dirty.

Of course, if Democrats did like Republicans, and resigned when caught red handed at this sort of thing, then whether or not the Democratic caucus was harder or easier on its Black members would be moot. It is only because they typically allow criminals to keep their seats that this is an issue at all.

MadisonMan said...

Revenant, the problem with your argument is that most people have heard of Margaret Thatcher, or Indira Gandhi, or Golda Meir. All female heads of state. All quite successful.

Revenant said...

Revenant, the problem with your argument is that most people have heard of Margaret Thatcher, or Indira Gandhi, or Golda Meir. All female heads of state. All quite successful.

All of them non-American. All of them irrelevant to American voters.

The assertion that most Americans are familiar enough with Golda Meir or Indira Gandhi to judge American politicians in relation to them is also more than a little silly. Margaret Thatcher, maybe, but the notion that Clinton might be like Thatcher fails an immediate common sense check; Thatcher is intimately tied to the Reagan-Bush era in the American political mindset.