THE BLOG

The Testosterone Gap

10/25/2010 12:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Maybe it was just a matter of time.

For the past week, Sharron Angle has been garnering national headlines with her sexist challenge that Harry Reid "man up." The Nevada GOP Senate nominee has told enthralled crowds that her opponent Harry Reid's problem is an accountability one. She blamed him for failing to take responsibility for the anemic recovery, an insufficiently patriotic appreciation of the success of the surge in Iraq, and whatever problems may befall the Social Security trust fund some years down the road. When he quite properly demurred, she'll have none of that.

"Man up, Harry Reid," cried the Tea Party temptress.

"Shut up, Ms. Angle," say I.

Roughly a quarter century since the beginning of the modern equal rights movement for women, and two years after Hillary Clinton put those 18 million cracks in the ultimate glass ceiling, it has come to this. The powerful Senate majority leader, whose unsung expertise in herding cats created the only sixty-vote Senate majority on the only system wide health care reform bill ever to pass the US Congress, suffers from -- how else to put it -- a testosterone gap.

This would be silly and somewhat amusing if it weren't so fundamentally sad.

The economic challenges we now face are daunting. And the policies that led to those challenges have hardly been kept secret. The Great Recession of 2008 and its aftermath was the product of the combined effects of deregulation on Wall Street and shrinking incomes on Main Street. Finance capital ran amok as (conservative) government let Wall Street seize the productivity gains of the computer age with products that gave alchemy new meaning -- securitized sub-prime mortgages backed up by derivative instruments that allowed the inevitable crash to course like a rampant virus through the entire economy.

At the same time, Main Street's incomes shrank given the unmitigated wage arbitrage practiced by corporate behemoths who outsourced our manufacturing base to poorly paid day laborers in Asia, while tepid (conservative) laws made it virtually impossible to organize wage laborers into collective bargaining units to do for them what unions did for workers in the wake of the New Deal.

Before that New Deal began, those who suffered the highest rate of poverty in America were the aged. Social Security ended that problem. And had Sharron Angle's predecessors in the Grand Old Party listened to Bill Clinton in the late '90s, and used that Democratic President's surplus to "save Social Security first," the trust fund would have no long term solvency problem today. They, of course, didn't.

Instead, led by Newt Gingrich, who was also out in Nevada this week stumping for Sharron Angle, the GOP gave the bulk of the surplus to the rich and then proceeded to run up record deficits with unpaid for wars and unfinanced benefits to Big Pharma. Meanwhile, Wall Street's greed-is-good-guys created two finance bubbles -- first in internet stocks and then in the real estate market -- and now want us all to forgive them for the very painful hangover.

None of this matters in Sharron Angle's invented world of Tea Party anger and extreme right-wing denial. Her party is responsible for about seven-eighths of the existing deficit and all of the current recession. Neither she nor her party have proposed a single new idea designed to combat the anemic recovery. Their mantra of tax cuts for the rich and government spending cuts for the rest is as old as it is useless. The rich don't need and won't spend the marginal taxes they will otherwise pay once W's tax break albatross is partially lifted from America's neck. And spending cuts in recessions and depressions are ludicrous. They make things worse, not better.

Bereft of ideas, Sharron Angle has been reduced to a mirror image of that sexist male who for years substituted his own prejudicial fantasy for fact. We all know him. Girls couldn't play with the boys. Women couldn't work with the men. Separate, and never equal, the boys who traded size jokes in schoolyards became the CEOs who reinforced that glass ceiling with steel. As Sharron Angle would no doubt understand, those guys really knew how to "man up."

Harry Reid doesn't need another ounce of testosterone. Just six more years in the Senate. For our sake, not his.

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