EDITORIAL: Straight, clear thinking from women in power
It was evidently news to President Donald Trump’s new economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, that women don’t easily get confused.
Fortunately for many of us, they also don’t get rattled in the face of emergency or cowed by the headwinds of chauvinism.
Last week was replete with examples.
Looking to turn up the pressure on Moscow for its collaboration with the Syrian government of strongman Bashar al-Assad, the Trump administration decided on additional sanctions against Russia.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley duly described the plan on the Sunday television news shows, saying the sanctions would be laid out the following day. Trump, in the midst of one of his patented 180-degree policy reversals, saw the report and went into one of his patented confused rages. He had decided no such thing, he maintained.
After Monday came and went, Kudlow explained to a curious media that the error had been Haley’s.
"She got ahead of the curve," Kudlow told reporters as he worked the jack on a metaphorical bus, the better to throw Haley under. "She's done a great job, she's a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that."
The male condescension was so thick, it practically cried out to be written in a new font: chauvinism bold.
Unlike other higher-ups in the Trump administration who have been targeted for blame to cover the prevaricator-in-chief’s policy and/or mood swings — people such as former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former-in-waiting Attorney General Jeff Sessions — Haley has a spine.
Her taut response — “With all due respect, I don’t get confused” — had Kudlow chasing down reporters within the news cycle, hemming and hawing and making whatever other sounds one makes when aggressively backpedaling.
“She was certainly not confused,” Kudlow told The New York Times. “I was wrong to say that — totally wrong.”
It’s 2018; women in power do not get confused. Nor do they get flustered.
Ask Tammie Jo Shults, one of the first female Navy fighter pilots.
Right about the time Kudlow was mea culping, Shults was calmly landing a Boeing 737 that had sustained massive damage after blowing one of its two engines. Having come apart at 32,000 feet, the damaged engine blew a hole in the airliner that resulted in the death of one passenger and injuries to seven others.
But Shults got the plane, which had 144 people on board, down safely — a steep descent followed by an emergency landing.
She then walked the aisles, checking on every passenger. It was a master class in grace under pressure.
Reported USA Today: “That coolness was particularly notable in air traffic control recordings in which a female pilot is heard slowly and calmly reporting the in-air emergency, noting that they have ‘part of the aircraft missing.’”
The week’s highlights weren’t over. The following day, history would be made in the U.S. Senate when Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., brought her newborn daughter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, onto the chamber floor so she (mom) could cast a vote.
The Senate changed its rules earlier in the week to allow babies on the floor — belated but welcome recognition that working women, of which there are currently a record 23 in the Senate, often require flexibility to do their jobs, especially when childrearing is part of the mix.
“The Senate for many years now has had the stigma of being an old-fashioned men’s club,” Fox News opinion writer (and former Sen. Rick Santorum deputy press secretary) Lauren DeBellis Appell, noted accurately if a tad quaintly. “And it’s nice to see senators making strides in the 21st century and accommodating women.”
One observer’s strides are another’s baby steps but, yes, it is nice to see.
It will likewise be nice to see similar vestiges of outmoded thinking — the type that seeks to question, undermine or diminish leadership qualities in women — relegated to the same ash heap as the U.S. Senate’s baby ban.
No confusion about that.