Womens' Night at the Convention... Or Not

09/27/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Mona Gable Writer and Journalist focusing on politics and parenting

What a speech. It was warm and persuasive and smart, and only a troll like Dick Morris could have failed to be moved when she talked about her commitment to the working folks of America. And yes, while Hillary gave a killer speech -- and thank god, maybe now those dreadful PUMAs and their enabler/handler Chris Matthews will slink back to the Rockies where they belong -- there was another fired-up woman last night who rocked the house. And that was Lilly Ledbetter, the scrappy retired Alabama grandmother who sued Goodyear for not paying her the same as her male co-workers so that other American women wouldn't have to suffer as she did. Talk about rising to the occasion.

Tuesday night was supposed to be women's night, in honor of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the vote. And while Hillary punched that message hard, and in her flaming orange pantsuit, was vibrant proof of how far women have come in those 88 years -- it was hard not to feel a bit, oh, shall we say, bitter? An unpleasant stab of dissonance.

Yes, Hillary did shatter those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling in her run for the presidency. Yes, we finally have a female Speaker of the House and several women governors. Pop open the champagne! But in a night that was supposed to celebrate women and their achievements, why the Brotherhood of the Traveling Pantsuits? Why so many men speakers? Where were the fiery Sanchez sisters, for instance, my homegirls from California? Instead we got the bland white-toast Mark Warner and the anti-choice Bob Casey, who managed to weasel his opposition to abortion into the Democratic platform. For a second I felt like I'd stumbled into the wrong convention.

And as Lilly Ledbetter so powerfully reminded us, how smug can women be when 88 years after we got the right to vote, we still don't have the right to equal pay? How is that possible? Ledbetter tried hard to get women that right so they could support their families, so their husbands wouldn't have to work so hard. She didn't do it for herself. She did it because it was fair and it was right. She took her case all the way to the Supreme Court. But those good ole boys on the bench Antonin Scalia and John Roberts and Clarence Thomas didn't think she sued Goodyear quickly enough, even though the company had a strict policy of not divulging employees' salaries -- and she lost. The Senate wouldn't even bring up the Fair Pay Act for a vote. That's how far we've come, baby.

These are the same justices, by the way, that John McCain, without prompting, said during the Saddleback Forum that if it were up to him he would appoint again. So much for being a maverick.

If it wasn't clear by last night, it should be now: John McCain would be a disaster for women. And I don't just mean because of the appalling way he treats Cindy and his total lack of respect for her. Hillary made that point too. "In 2008, he still thinks it's OK that women don't earn equal pay," she said, among other zingers.

Is this any surprise, though, from a man who joked to a crowd of gnarly South Dakota bikers this month that "with a little luck" his wife could be the "only woman to serve as First Lady and Miss Buffalo Chip"? A contest where the entrants parade around topless and in thongs.

Is this what Hillary's supporters truly want rather than equal pay? I hope not.

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