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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

MORE GENDER FOOLISHNESS: What a delight to watch Roberts respond with elegance, class and facts to scurrilous attempts by Feinstein and Biden to tar him with the usual radical feminist brush. Adopting her famously sanctimonious "Oh, I am so virtuous it's hard to sit still" tone, Feinstein began by reciting to Roberts a series of supposedly unflattering comments he'd written about women. Why did he write as an associate White House counsel that, "'Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good?'" Feinstein demanded to know. Never one to be accused of false modesty, California's senior senator spoke not just for herself but for all Americans of the female persuasion: "As the only woman on the committee, I have an additional role to play in representing the views and concerns of 145 million American women during this hearing process." Feinstein continued: Why write in response to female lawmakers concerned about the pay gap, "'Their slogan may as well be, from each according to his ability, to each according to her gender?'" Without breaking stride, Roberts politely replied that the first comment was a joke about whether it was good to have more lawyers. The second, he said, was written in the context of a memo making clear the administration's support for equal pay for equal work. Roberts then noted that his wife works as an attorney and that he would fight for his daughter's full civil and legal rights in the workplace. Feinstein's disappointment registered immediately. She obviously thought she had Roberts cornered, and now she realized just how mean-spirited and petty her interrogation had sounded. "Well, I don't want to belabor the point," she offered timidly — not once but twice. Translation: Gotta get out of this one, fast. Meanwhile, presidential aspirant and noted plagiarist Joe Biden began by boasting that he had done a lot more than simply offer legislation forbidding violence against women: "I know people say they wrote things. I mean, I actually did write that my little old self, with my staff." Then Biden livened things up by flashing his bright upper bicuspids (it may have been a smile) and accusing Roberts of not objecting to, oh, beating up women. Biden's allegation — ridiculous on its face and easily refuted by Roberts, despite two manic interruptions by the Delware senator — was clearly aimed to shore up Biden's quest for feminist support in his impending presidential campaign. Here's what matters abut yesterday's exchanges. Simply shouting "sexism" no longer sufficies to win an argument, any more than allegations of "racism" automatically confer moral superiority on the demagogues who typically level the charge. Radical feminists used to be able to get away with declaring that pay for comparable work is identical to pay for comparable worth, but not any more. "Work" and "worth" may rhyme, but the differences are profound — as true equality crusader Warren Farrell has made clear again and again.