- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Soccer mom myth

"So-called soccer moms were all the rage in political circles in 1996. They symbolized the female suburban swing voters who supposedly held the key to victory in that year's presidential race. They didn't, but that's not the odd part; there is probably no profession more prone to snake oil and fads than politics. What's really strange is that this year, when the cliche has substance, soccer moms seem to have wandered off the political field.
"Four years ago soccer moms were the same suburban women with demanding spawn, but they were not teetering between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. The term 'was just a good metaphor for middle-aged women who were going to support Clinton over Dole in any case,' says Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. In the end, suburban women, and suburban mothers, favored Clinton by 53 to 39 percent even as suburban men voted for Dole."
James Bennet, writing on "Soccer Mom 2000," in Sunday's New York Times Magazine

Catching the wave

"You know, I'm thinking maybe I've been wrong about abortion. Maybe it really is a woman's right to choose. Can every hip person in the universe be wrong?
"A cultural wave is cresting and I feel like a geek among the surfers. In a single weekend, the worlds of fashion and Hollywood sent forth powerful signals that this battle was finished some time ago. Out of my Sunday morning New York Times fell a glossy advertorial from Kenneth Cole, the thinking woman's cobbler, asserting his pro-choice sentiments with a witty visual/textual pun equating a fetus with a handbag … The boldness and candor of the metaphor [of] the unborn child as accessory could only have sprung from the confidence of absolute conquest.
"And then there was John Irving, thanking the Academy for honoring his script on the abortion subject, as he termed it, and lauding Miramax for having the courage to make this movie in the first place. Yeah, it took Zeitgeist-busting guts to buck that Tinseltown tide of anti-abortion fervor. Now Miramax can cop out and go back to making all those safe, pro-life box-office hits."
Brenda L. Becker in "The Dead Baby Thing is So Over" from the March 29 edition of the National Review Online

Census confusion

"Feeling impotent to bring about real political change, to even describe exactly what needs to happen, people turn to symbols and subversions. The census offers a rare opportunity to vent frustration.
"A colleague at the hospital where I work mentioned last week that she hadn't returned her [census] form because she couldn't decide which race needed her most. She is white, but she wants to place herself among the ranks of a minority that she feels deserves better representation. She's dedicated to social justice and is wondering if it isn't an ethical imperative to make sure that those in need get every penny from federal programs they can."
Janna Malamud Smith, writing on "Your Mail Isn't Spying on You," in the April 6 New York Times

Praying to whom?

"An age that despises theology is bound to be theologically illiterate. Consider Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League.
"Mr. Foxman declares himself 'sad and disappointed' translation: mad as hell that Pope John Paul II, in his Lenten prayer for forgiveness of the historic sins of Catholics, 'stopped short in addressing specific Catholic wrongs against the Jewish people, especially the Holocaust.'
"Mr. Foxman seems unaware that, being a prayer, the pope's plea was addressed to God, not to the Anti-Defamation League and that Catholics still make a distinction between the two."
Joseph Sobran in "In Defense of Bob Jones," in a March 16 column

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