- The Washington Times - Friday, August 25, 2000

Before I explain why women's suffrage should go the way of the Susan B. Anthony dollar, let me tell you a story.
One evening last December, 29-year-old Katherine Prudhomme was driving by a television station in Derry, N.H., where Al Gore was to hold a town meeting. Mrs. Prudhomme, a wife, mother and machinist by training, stopped by to ask if she could attend. Although she wasn't on the list of "randomly selected" guests, Mrs. Prudhomme was admitted by a lady at the front desk, who vouched for her to secret service agents. Mrs. Prudhomme took her seat. She had a question she wanted to ask the vice president.
Something you should know about Mrs. Prudhomme is that she calls herself a "rape survivor." But she is more than a "survivor," which, while implying an enduring will, does not connote the interest Mrs. Prudhomme continues to take in penal matters. In a recent interview, Mrs. Prudhomme discussed some of the work she has done counseling sex offenders, while keeping an eye on the parole board decisions that affect them. Little wonder, then, that when Juanita Broaddrick told her terrible, and, in my opinion, convincing story of the rape she says she suffered at the hands of then-Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton to NBC's Lisa Myers, Mrs. Prudhomme was particularly aggrieved.
That story was what Mrs. Prudhomme wanted to ask Mr. Gore about. "When Juanita Broaddrick made the claim, which I found to be quite credible, that she was raped by Bill Clinton, did it change your opinion about him being one of the best presidents in history? And do you believe Juanita Broaddrick's claim? And what did you tell your son about this?" she asked the vice president.
With this trifecta, Mrs. Prudhomme broke ground the national press corps still fears to tread. Mr. Gore, meanwhile, seemed suddenly not to know where he was. "Well, I didn't know what to make of her claim, because I don't know how to evaluate that story, I really don't," he began. He went on to say that he hadn't seen the interview "Well, which what show was it on?" that he thought there had been "so many personal allegations" against Mr. Clinton that "enough was enough"; and, as for his own son, he would "never violate the privacy of my communication" with a family member major speeches on family illness, injury and death apparently excepted. He further stated that "whatever mistakes [Mr. Clinton] made in his personal life" as if rape is a mistake "are, in the minds of most Americans, balanced against what he has done in his public life as president."
And Mussolini made the trains run on time. Here we see Mr. Gore the apologist, or, as Mrs. Prudhomme says Mrs. Broaddrick once described him to her, Mr. Gore "the enabler" villainous roles that link him to Mr. Clinton's villainous deeds.
Now Mrs. Prudhomme has sought comment from the First Enabler. Last weekend, she traveled to Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign headquarters in Manhattan to present Mrs. Clinton with a tape of the Broaddrick interview in case she, too, had missed it. Accompanied by a band of leaflet-passing supporters, Mrs. Prudhomme gave a short, impassioned speech on 7th Avenue, concluding with one question for Mrs. Clinton: Do you believe Juanita Broaddrick?
She is still waiting for an answer. Mrs. Clinton, it seems, is too busy trolling for votes particularly women's votes. This week took Mrs. Clinton to Rochester, N.Y., where, what do you know, she toured Susan B. Anthony's home, "invoking the legacy of the suffragists [sic] at every turn," according to the New York Times, even making an appearance with a 99-year-old former suffragette. One wonders what that dear old thing would or could make of the Broaddrick story, Mr. Gore's evasion and Mrs. Clinton's silence.
And what of the rest of us? Are voters, particularly women voters, even aware of the case's significance? It is no secret that, having been enfranchised for 80 years, women as a group haven't exactly covered themselves in quiz-kid glory when it comes to their grasp of national politics. In fact, there is what the Annenberg Public Policy Center earlier this year called a quantifiable "gender gap in political knowledge."
And it's worse than the political scientists thought. It's one thing not to know anything. But it's another to be conned out of one's vote by Al and Tipper Gore's gruesome lip lock on the podium of the Democratic National Convention. Nonetheless, that kiss and the goopy speech that followed seems to have gotten Mr. Gore a passel of votes. Female votes. All too many gals suddenly decided Al Gore was "caring" and "sincere" reason enough, in my book, to strip us all of our franchise.
Excepting, maybe, women like Katherine Prudhomme.

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