Women Commentators Rake Rendell

Dec 4, 2008 9:29am

"Janet’s perfect for that job," a hot mic picked up Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell saying earlier this week of Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, President-elect Obama’s nominee to be secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

"Because, for that job, you have to have no life," Rendell went on. "Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19-20 hours a day to it."

Yesterday, the avuncular former Philly mayor clarified: "What I meant is that Janet is a person who works 24/7, just like I do. She has no life. Neither do I."

But Rendell has a wife and son.

And though he’s known for working hard, few in the know in the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania would assert that he has no life.

Today in the New York Times, Gail Collins writes that Rendell’s assertion of Napolitano’s single-ness "seemed to be the summation of Napolitano’s qualifications. Rendell himself has been on the list of Cabinet mentions, and this is a good example of the way people around the world explain why another person got the prize instead: It was all about some random characteristic I happen to lack. (‘Ted’s perfect for the job. Because for that job, you really have to speak Estonian.’) Perhaps a rather undesirable characteristic. (‘For that job, you have to be able to drink those salesmen under the table and Ted’s an absolute lush.’)

"And it sure sounded as if he was saying that single people like Napolitano exist in a state so dark and barren that the empty hours can only be filled up by guarding the nation’s borders against terrorists and preparing for the next hurricane."

Similarly, CNN’s Campbell Brown took Rendell to task.

Brown said that Rendell’s "comments do perpetuate stereotypes that puts us in boxes, both mothers and single women."

What sayeth you?

- jpt

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