October 21, 2009 in Opinion

Smart Bombs: Is leadership women’s work?

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Living magazine recently published its “best of” lists, and Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin was chosen “Best Politician.” Runners-up were Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. No. 1 in Idaho was Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem.

See a pattern here? No men.

Longtime campaign watchers have noted that all things being equal, voters will give the nod to women at the ballot box. Washington’s governor and both U.S. senators are women. One theory is that a male candidate looks like a bully when criticizing a female candidate. I suppose, but that seems a bit condescending. I think the larger issue is one of trust.

You don’t see too many women caught up in personal scandals that force their husbands to dutifully stand by during public apologies. They’re less apt to “hike the Appalachian Trail,” seek the services of prostitutes or take advantage of young staff members. Secretly sire children? That’s a tough one for a public woman to pull off.

Perhaps one day men in power will overcome this obstacle, but only after they stop falling in love with themselves.

Streetwise. Is there any better sound on the radio than “this is the last day of our pledge drive”? No more repetitive begging. No more pleas to give up that latte. No more strained accounts of the importance and awesomeness of it all.

If we like it, we don’t need to be told why. “Morning Edition” is informative? You can listen while doing other things? You don’t say.

Look, I get it. They need the money and holding the regularly scheduled programming hostage obviously works. But what would work even better is if they could somehow ditch the pitch on your radio as soon as you contributed. You give, and they give back your programs. If I could direct my donation, I’d want it spent on such a technological breakthrough. Donations would skyrocket. I’d give in the first 5 seconds to avoid that latte cliché, and I don’t even drink them.

This is how it works on the streets. You hand over the cash, and the panhandler moves on.

Poll positions. Normally I’d be excited by a poll that shows that 57 percent of Americans want a public insurance option for health care. A newly released Washington Post-ABC News survey reported that strong majority, but when drilling deeper into the responses it becomes clear that some Americans are confused.

The poll shows that support among senior citizens and political independents for the public option goes up when it is limited to those without the means to purchase private insurance. But one of the chief reasons for government to get involved is to drive down health care costs. If only poor people are purchasing public insurance, then there is no incentive for private insurers – who would still have their current clients – to compete with that option on price. If private insurers don’t compete on price by cracking down on providers who charge for unnecessary tests and procedures, then there’s no reason to think that unsustainable costs will be controlled.

The mistake is to think of reform as a way to get the uninsured some coverage. For sure, that would be nice. But if that’s the only accomplishment, then we’ll be revisiting reform rather quickly.

We need more than univeral coverage. We need universal reform.

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at garyc@spokesman.com or at (509) 459-5026.


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