And now, suddenly, a new tradition: Every Friday, the amazing Sady of the New York-based lady blog Tiger Beatdown and myself, of the Washington, D.C.-based blog you are reading now, will discuss the lady issues of the day.
In this episode, Sady and I dissect a Congressional morality play, in which President Barack Obama convinces Democrats to drop a $200 million family planning provision from the $825 billion economic stimulus bill in order to court Republican support, only to find that the Republicans don’t give a shit and none of them vote for it anyway.
AMANDA: first up, i hear via Wonkette tweet that Rod Blagojayavavovich is out.
SADY: is he now? i will be sad when he is gone and irrelevant, for he is such a hugely entertaining figure in American life.
AMANDA: he did a lot for women’s health in his state, and then said a lot about how he did a lot for women’s health in his state over and over again, in order to avoid talking about all the wire tapping business.
SADY: oh, well, yes. he should be in touch with the women’s health needs of his constituency, given that he is maybe secretly listening to their dreams while they sleep.
AMANDA: but he’s not going to discuss those allegations at this point. okay, so isn’t it weird that a) the postal service is taking Saturdays off now forever, and b) the stimulus bill just passed the house with no Republican support?
SADY: damn those postal services. oh, wait, i do everything through e-mail.
AMANDA: yeah i do not use the mail, ever.
SADY: and yes, which makes the “bipartisanship” moves of, say, dropping women’s health funding from it, kind of sad now. the more i look at this the more it seems to be a question of economic differences: GOP in favor of tax cuts, Dems in favor of spending on programs they think will create jobs.
AMANDA: why was there a whole big to-do about the family planning stuff then? there were all these reports of obama working congress for hours and hours, shaking hands and kissing babies and whatnot, and it turns out it didn’t even matter to the Republicans.
SADY: i honestly think it was just sort of casual misogyny, because the GOP wanted to pick a fuss about “unnecessary” spending, and (in their eyes) what is more unnecessary than extended health services for poor ladies!
AMANDA: yeah, i feel like it’s also easy to explain to “the people.” it’s easier to say, “they want to kill babies with this stimulus bill” than a whole bunch of economic jargon that I, admittedly, also do not understand.
SADY: right, and you get to scare people with the ever-present “poor woman slutting it up.”
AMANDA: and on the democratic side, don’t you imagine Pelosi et al were frustrated? i mean the economic sense of the family planning stuff seems fairly straightforward, but once you get “they want to fund abortions instead of rebuilding the country” into the equation, that’s probably hard to shake.
SADY: right, big ups for my Ohio homedude John Boehner for the scary scary thought of taxpayers! being forced! to fund! the abortion! industry!
AMANDA: “Boehner ” still makes me laugh, but that’s neither here nor there.
SADY: right, with a name like that your life can go either into porn or into insane puritanism. i imagine the mere thought of boners drives him mad with shame as he imagines the playgrounds of his youth. yet it’s weird that the dems backed off so easily.
AMANDA: and i think in a larger sense this just shows how women’s issues are sensationalized in the political process all the time. and i have to think a lot of it, as i think you said earlier, is that there are just vaginas involved. when there’s a vagina involved, suddenly everyone has an opinion—- but the other billions and billions of dollars of provisions we don’t even hear about.
SADY: exactly. the actual bill itself just removed a step from a process that was already happening. yet Chris Matthews is like, “forcing people not to procreate with their vaginas any more? letting people have sex with their vaginas? Vaginas!” the rest of it is not salable in that same way.
AMANDA: vaginas. but, and speaking as someone who has a vagina, i can’t really be bothered with all this nonsense anymore. i just want to take my medicine or whatever and have it be as cheap as anyone else’s medicine.
AMANDA: do you think that women’s health is always going to be a dividing line between these parties?
SADY: honestly, insofar as “women’s health” is linked with contraception is linked with abortion is linked with women’s being defined NOT entirely around popping out the babies for their husbands, i think it will always be a sore point. and one which can be exploited. yet so often it seems cynical to me. the socially conservative folks who vote based on these issues are not the same economically privileged folks who would be benefited by, say, the GOP’s tax cuts.
AMANDA: yeah, and it’s unfortunate that in this case, because that chain of associations was set off, women will suffer.
SADY: right, exactly. and i get that obama is looking to create coalitions, but (more boehner news) certain outlets are reporting that, as boehner walked to the floor for a vote, he, like, flashed a “zero” with his fingers to signify the number of GOP pro votes that would be cast there’s a determination not to cooperate that is really scary, because it honestly seems like it is not about the issues, but about opposing this current president.
AMANDA: and on the other hand, too, i mean there’s this massive bill that the democrats know isn’t going to get major republican support. and they don’t change much of the bill, they just decide to toss out what essentially is a “token” admission to the republicans. but why sacrifice women’s issues the token issue when you know they’re not going to support you anyway, and in fact, their support does not matter?
SADY: exactly! that’s what bothers me! how easily this was backed up on and characterized as inessential when it is totally not! i mean, i get the sense that we could be voting “innocent puppies: should they all be killed?” and certain folks would be like NO WAY AM I DEALING WITH THAT PUPPY SYMPATHIZER OBAMA.
AMANDA: hey, did he pick a puppy yet?
SADY: i don’t know, i seriously feel like this puppy is going to be the unseen force that governs all our lives. we may never know whether a puppy has been picked or not. this is an inexcusably long time to wait for a puppy, i am saying.
Photo by urbanshoegirl.