I know that asking you to access the brain cells that remember who Kimba Wood And Zoe Baird are might be a bit of a challenge. Their names haven't really been in the news for about 15 years. And, heck, sometimes I can't even find the brain cells to remember where I put the car keys yesterday!
Both of them were nominees for Attorney General of the United States for Bill Clinton, but were taken out of consideration because of nanny documentation and tax problems. Actually, Wood was legally and technically in the clear of any wrongdoing, but because her situation sounded so much like Baird's problem, the Clinton administration didn't want to risk it at the confirmation hearing.
Now, it turns out that Barack Obama's choice to head the Treasury has some similar problems, yet Obama has said he will not withdraw his name because of these "innocent mistakes."
Really? I can actually get past the possibility of not knowing if the nanny's immigration papers were in order, but the guy who is going to oversee the IRS and is the head of the Federal Reserve Bank, who's supposed to be an economic phenom, "forgot" he was supposed to pay certain taxes on his income?
Now, I didn't think Baird and Wood should have been taken out of consideration because of their nanny issues, but if it's OK to tell women they have to step down because of legal "mistakes," especially those involving working mothers and child care, then is it acceptable to give a pass to a guy in a similar situation?
My husband said to me last night, "Well if they lose Geithner, then who's going to have the expertise to take over at Treasury?" I have to believe there is more than one wunderkind who can manage Treasury, even in these desperate times. The larger question for me is whether Barack Obama wants to raise the whole double standard question before he even steps into the White House as POTUS?
Yes, maybe my feminist radar is a bit more on alert these days after so many misogynistic things that happened in the presidential election, but I have to wonder -- if Tim Geithner were Tina Geithner would the candidate be getting the same benefit of the doubt on the supposed honesty of these mistakes?
Senators who have to confirm Geithner acknowledge these problems are serious, but say they don't disqualify him. If that's so, then Zoe Baird or Kimba Wood should have been Attorney General under Bill Clinton. But somehow, their acts did disqualify them. Other than gender, what's different this time?
Call me crazy. I know there are plenty who will. I'd just like to see the same standards applied to men and women being considered for high posts, whatever we all decide those standards should be.
Joanne Bamberger is a writer and political commentator in Washington, D.C. She is the founder of PunditMom blog, a political guide for women, and a Contributing Editor for News & Politics at BlogHer. Her commentary has appeared on CNN, Fox News, BBC Radio and more.
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