To help the federal government annex medical care, President Obama recently turned to women. Not just any women but some reliable allies and supporters of the White House Office of Women and Girls.
That office, you may remember, was launched last March under the oversight of presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett and put under the executive direction of Obama fundraiser Tina Tchen, who is called by the National Organization for Women "one of our own." The council is charged to perfect the lot of women in every possible way and enlists the entire cabinet along with various ambassadors, directors and administrators to get this ambitious job done. Such an effort, of course, must require resurrecting the liberal assumption that healthy, free American women are helpless victims who can do little for themselves. On hand that day to close the Bush era of treating women as capable citizens and to launch a new era of the aggrieved were First Lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the AAUW, NOW, NARAL, the National Center for Transgendered Equality, the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Feminist Majority Foundation, Planned Parenthood and lots more.
It was quite a send off, yet in the succeeding months these victim feminists did not seem to stir up the attention and activity they once did. One exception was the way in which they bullied their way into what they considered the man-centered stimulus bill and left their mark. Scholar and author Christina Hoff Sommers reported the clash: "The National Organization for Women (NOW), the Feminist Majority, the Institute for Women's Policy Research, and the National Women's Law Center joined the battle against the supposedly sexist bailout of men's jobs." They demanded a "stimulus package that would add jobs for nurses, social workers, teachers, and librarians in our crumbling 'human infrastructure.'" (Don't those sound like the jobs feminists complain that women were limited to in the 1950s? You've come a long way, baby?) And what did the president do? "He did what many sensible men do when confronted by a chorus of female complaint: He changed his plan." Henceforth the feminists' "human infrastructure" was part and parcel of the famous stimulus plan.
Maybe that browbeating was enough to convince the White House to put some more gals to work on the president's not-quite-turning-out-the-way-we-wanted health care matter. So, at a White House meeting on September 18, out came the slogan "Health Care is a Women's Issue" along with the first lady and 140 supportive guests who had "been fighting for decades for equality for women." The Women's Chamber of Commerce, the YWCA, the National Council of Negro Women and all assembled heard nothing about tort reform, or small business insurance pools, or a national health insurance market. Instead they heard Michelle Obama present her husband's enormous assault on citizen responsibility as a matter of equality and "the next step" for women. They were told that women are "crushed" by our health care system, that their treatment under the current system is "unacceptable" and that "women are disproportionately affected because of the roles we play in families and the jobs we do in this economy."
Did the first lady's invited audience really agree that women are not quite equal as long as they are managing their own medical care? And can that victim pitch really persuade the rest of us and rescue dwindling approval numbers? The folks in the White House, guardians of dependence, seem to think so. But I don't think so and I have a hunch that most American women won't either.