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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Barn-burning equal rights amendment rally? Next!

Age IV


“It is a pity that, as one gradually gains experience, one loses one’s youth.”
-Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

          I’m sorry to begin with an apology, and I’m sorry to do this but I have to weigh in and weigh in heavy on the “are you too old to be of any good” type of question that was recently posed to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. I didn’t like Pelosi’s response much more than I liked the question. The question, verbatim, was: “Some of your colleagues privately say that your decision to stay on prohibits the party from having a younger leadership and hurts the party in the long term. What's your response?"
At the risk of trying to sound like I am much younger than I really am, I must say: “WTF. WTF. WTF?”  
        Pelosi’s knee-jerk, off-the-cuff, without-her-press-agent at her elbow response was: "Age discrimination!"

Literally and figuratively, Pelosi was backed by almost two dozen female colleagues all of whom look like 

they get their share of AARP mailers. All the women shouted, "Boo!"
Okay, that part I get. Pelosi tried to dismiss the un-dismissible with “Next!” and the women behind her applauded. This might have turned into an early seventies style barn-burning equal rights amendment rally revisit. But not likely with Pelosi in the driver’s seat.
“No, excuse me,” the reporter pushed ahead and supported the legitimacy of the question by reminding the speaker that she and two other members of the house were “all over 70. Is your decision to stay on prohibiting younger members from moving forward?”
Before I set out to answer WTF, I decided to find out who owned this inquiring mind. 

     Holy copper wiring it was none other than not-a-chip-off-the-block Luke Russert, prince of nepotism, son of legendary and respected journalist Tim Russert. He’s a freken’ baby and I’m surprised he has a learners-permit to get himself to the press room. W[ever]TF happened to news and what was once thought to be media integrity happened a long time ago. Yet this level of idiocy, from both sides of the dais, and intimidation, from both sides of the dais, requires a little further discussion.
By the way, note to son-of-journalist: Have a lead question that is pertinent to lead announcement, e.g., when Pelosi announces that she is going to stay on the job don’t ask about her leaving the job. Having a prepared question is not the same as asking a tough question. 
     The fall-out and follow-up conversation was about the validity of the question. My short answer is: no (see note to son-of-journalist above). It was not a valid or pertinent question, not in that particular room. If Mister Russert was to stand outside of the chamber and ask every single member of Congress if they think a younger, more inexperienced body politic is better, more effective and more functional and, well, let’s just say it—hip, then we’d have a valid question. And, of course, if the question was posed by anyone other than a privileged, 27 year old, entitled, whippersnapper . . . well, then the question would not have been posed.
I didn’t find any discussions on the validity of experience through age, how “earned” is more respected and valued than “inherited,” and no one, to my knowledge, mentioned the value of not reinventing the wheel every time we need to change a tire. 
Boy Russert did not ask a valid question. To simply shout “age discrimination” at a reporter is not a valid answer (or solution). Pelosi made matters worse when she swiped away the pompous cub-in-the-lion’s-den reporter with “Next.”  She almost lent credibility to the idea that 70 might be “too old,” as if anything labeled “too old” by a 27 year old should be deemed credible. Pelosi needed to give the profession of reporter its due respect while seizing a teaching opportunity, had she remembered that women’s liberation re-educated the world before storming through doors. She could have embraced the all-so powerful “feminine” in feminism and very gently, very womanly, put the boy in his place. Instead, Pelosi reminded us that we have yet to break through any ceilings—glass or otherwise. She demonstrated a reactive-female with a short-fuse. I’m sorry, I don’t like stereotyping women anymore than the next sister-in-arms does, but I call it when I see it and Pelosi showed it.
If I didn’t need my reading glasses, I might be able to read between the lines of Junior Russert’s query. If I could, I might conclude that he’d like to see the likes of MTV VJ Kennedy at the helm of policy making. Even though a more unpleasant personality has not scratched my chalk board, perhaps it is Kennedy’s (and her generations) convenient and ill-conceived libertarian empty talk that Russert looks up to (since Kennedy, at 40, is technically older than Russert). But he didn’t say that and I’m projecting all that Kennedy stuff on to Russert. So who the hell does he think is capable of running the country if not a few older people with a couple of not-as-old people and so on? Did he think through his pre-prepared question?
Pelosi is about as much of a feminist as my chalk board is, but she is still a product of a feminist movement. We were never supposed to like everyone we just wanted to guarantee equal opportunity. Boy, did she miss a golden opportunity last week to pave a smoother path for people of age.
At times like these, my only wish is to retreat—I want to remove myself from all further thought on nonsense, move far, far away, to another galaxy perhaps, live off the land (as in rock-soup and mud-pies) and never deal with another stupid human again. But that’s not likely to happen and stupid people proliferate every day. I don’t have scientific proof of that but my many years of experience on this planet tell me that there is no shortage of stupid people. I'm not prohibiting any young leadership from making its mark in the world. 
I want to stand in the way of stupid people with microphones.