There's an episode of Tina Fey's showbiz sitcom 30 Rock called "TGS Hates Women." About halfway through the episode, Tina Fey's character Liz Lemon confronts Abby, a new writer and self described "sexy baby." Liz wants Abby to drop the idiot girl in pigtails act and grow up. Shit gets real when Abby tells Liz that how she chooses to act is none of Liz's business.
Liz responds: "Except it is, because you represent my show and you represent my gender in this business and you embarrass me."
Last week in Tennessee, State Senator and Senate Judiciary Chairwoman Mae Beavers, R-Mt.Juliet, proposed a bill that would strip the Tennessee supreme court of its power to determine the constitutionality of laws passed by the Tennessee legislature.
This woman, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee (no law degree, by the way), a committee that one might assume deals with all things judicial, wants to throw out judicial review.
Remember judicial review? That's the Marbury v. Madison one. It's been on the books since 1803. Judicial review is a check on the legislative and executive branches; it protects the minority from the tyranny of the majority; and if you need an example of judicial review in action, go into a public school: if you see a child who isn't white, bingo. And did I mention that it's been the law of the land for over 200 years? For a little context, we've had a federal constitution for less than 225 years.
Thankfully, someone convinced Senator Beavers to withdraw her bill. For perhaps a zillion reasons, this was a good move. As one prominent DC lawyer put it, even if the legislature did get the bill passed, "the US Supreme Court would knock it down while pointing and laughing."
Now back to 30 Rock. To quote Liz Lemon: Senator Beavers, you represent my gender on the Hill in Nashville, and you embarrass me.
In all fairness, the Tennessee legislature has brought its fair share of idiocy to the floor. Instead of creating jobs or doing something about the state's regressive tax structure, our dearly elected officials are putting all their efforts into gutting women's healthcare, banning Muslims from worshiping anywhere, and making sure that "Christian" kids can bully their gay classmates without being sent to the principal's office. Thank God for the great state of Tennessee!
So yeah, I am singling out Senator Beavers because she's a woman.
Women have enough trouble in politics. Between Michelle Bachmann, Christine O'Donnell, and Sarah Palin, we've got enough representation in the crazy arena. Nancy Pelosi, for all she did as the first female Speaker of the House, is still a favorite punching bag of Republicans. Good grief, people hate on Michelle Obama because she wants America to have healthy kids.
Let's put this in terms of Saturday Night Live. Will Ferrell had a mean George W. Bush. It was seriously funny for almost a decade. It helped that Bush Jr. gave Ferrell plenty of material to work with. But no one holds a candle to Tina Fey's Sarah Palin. The 2008 edition of the Yale Book of Quotations listed "I can see Russia from my house!" as its number one quotation of the year. The economy went to hell in a hand basket, we elected a black president, and the best line from the whole year was Tina Fey making fun of a female Vice Presidential candidate -- a candidate who had been in national politics for about two seconds when that sketch aired. Tina Fey's Sarah Palin will outlive Tina Fey and Sarah Palin.
Senator, and all women in elected positions, you have to be better than the men you work with. Men have had centuries to say stupid stuff in government, and the human race has had centuries to learn to not listen. Whether you realize it or not, your voice carries through the noise. You're still somewhat of a novelty. It's completely, utterly, disgustingly unfair; but when you say or do something as stupid as sponsoring a blatantly unconstitutional bill, people notice.
In conclusion, I'm going to channel every 13-year old everywhere: Please just don't embarrass me.
A few notes:
- Yup, big fan of Tina Fey. Look for many more 30 Rock references on this blog.
- The hilarity of the Senator's name does not escape me.