POLITICS
03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

BeckWatch: Misadventures In Gender

Did you wake up today thinking that the current media narrative on gender could not possibly get more inane? Well, if you're not already hip to Glenn Beck's flailing attempts to add to the discussion, prepare yourself, because it can! And it did!

Monday's "The Point" found Beck fulminating on Hillary Clinton's debate performance. Well, you can't fault him for that - it's clear that the media has decided that if they stop talking about it, their brains might start working again! What I can fault Beck for is mistaking a well-traveled saying for "Clintonian doublespeak."

BECK: She continued, quote, "If you can`t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. And I`m very comfortable in the kitchen." Good gracious. What Clintonian doublespeak is that?

Joining me now is Democratic strategist Peter Fenn and Cooper Lawrence, who's a developmental psychology researcher.

Cooper, let me start with you. The comment from Senator Clinton, "And I`m very comfortable in the kitchen," what -- what is that even about?

LAWRENCE: You know, a lot of women use the emotional currency. That`s their currency, emotion. And sticking to feminist ideals. So that`s not in place here.

This is -- we`re talking about somebody who`s a political candidate, who's trying to separate herself from, you know, the typical ideals that women hold. And that doesn't -- that doesn't do it. That puts her right back in the realm of somebody who can be attacked for what she`s saying.

BECK: Right. First of all, I don't believe for a second that she's comfortable in a kitchen.

Oh, well. I don't believe for a second that Beck understands this commonly used, universally understood idiom: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." By the looks of things, he's conflating this saying with "A woman's place is in the kitchen." Peter Fenn's initial wanderings here, citing Tammy Wynette and "baking cookies," likely drive this misconception home.

But the commonly used, universally understood idiom that Clinton uses does not come loaded with gender context or "emotional currency", as Cooper Lawrence suggests (If you want "emotional currency," may I suggest yelling "9/11!" in a crowded polity?). As the good people at ThePhraseFinder point out, it simply means, "Don't persist with a task if the pressure of it is too much for you. The implication being that, if you can't cope, you should leave the work to someone who can." Clinton is clearly suggesting nothing more than that she can withstand the "heat" and that she enjoys facing it.

In terms of loaded content, it's more likely that, rather than appear as some frail gamine, Clinton is attempting to appear Trumanesque. How do I know that? Because Harry Truman is widely credited with coining the phrase. I fear greatly that if Clinton ever uses Truman's "The buck stops here" maxim, Beck will empanel a gaggle of whacks to wax darkly about her plans to hoard deer semen.

Later in the discussion, Beck mewls, "Good gosh, if you can`t handle Tim Russert, how are you going to handle Hezbollah?" One might similarly ask, "If you can't handle Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, how can you be expected to handle leading a discourse on the news of the day?"