Senator Patty Murray is on a tear to recuit more women senators. God knows, the Senate needs more diversity. Out of 100 members, only 17 are women. It's why this matters that Murray is off-base.
Because we are multi-taskers: We have to pick up the kids and get dinner and, you know, help with the homework and get things done, and we don't mess around. And so we come into politics the same way: We have a task, it's hard, but we make decisions, and we get things done.
That kind of statement took Murray far when she was elected in the early 90s as a self-declared "mom in tennis shoes." But times have changed since then, and even more so since Murray was herself a young mom.
These days, men are multi-taskers too. They inevitably work, and they're expected to be hands-on parents as well. Yes, moms probably still do more juggling. But it's hard to find a modern-day dad who hasn't had to rush home for the kids, or spent many a night helping them with homework.
Even more problematic is Murray's contention that women understand the art of compromise. If there had been other women on the failed supercommittee to cut costs, she told McClatchy, the outcome "may have come out very differently."
SW's Rick Anderson has already pointed out the supercommittee members' penchant for blaming everybody but themselves. The idea that gender is to blame, though, is a new one. It's a notion resonant of decades-old, dewy-eyed slogans about how if women were in charge, the world would be at peace.
One person should have put that idea to rest long ago: Margaret Thatcher. Compromise was not in the former British prime minister's vocabulary--not when it came to miners engaged in a bitter strike, nor jailed Irish IRA members on the verge of dying from a hunger strike, nor Argentinians who wanted to take over the Falkland Islands.
Think she's an anomaly? Okay, how about imagining Sarah Palin on Murray's supercommittee. Seeing any warm, sisterly compromise happening? Didn't think so.
It's not just naive to imagine that women politicians will solve intractable problems by virtue of their gender alone, it's an idea based on a stereotype. And stereotypes never do anyone any good.
So why do we need more women in the Senate? Simple equity, for one thing.
For another, different types of people bring different perspectives. For insight into how personal experience can affect one's viewpoint, check out Friday's New York Times story on Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. The right-leaning anchor has railed against government "entitlement programs" but there's one thing the mother of two young children is all for: paid maternity leave.