Donna Dees-Thomases has told everyone far and wide that she came up with the idea of the "Million Mom March" after watching TV news coverage of a day-care center shooting in California. She wrote the words down on an envelope. Then she decided to hold the march on Mother's Day. Who would dare criticize that? How emotionally, manipulatively perfect.
Her web site proclaims: "Our aim is to recruit - from all walks of life - mothers, grandmothers, stepmothers, godmothers, foster mothers, future mothers, and all others willing to be 'honorary mothers' in this crusade." One honorary mother for this event has to be the national media, which are conducting softball interviews left and right to promote the march. One would hope someone, somewhere would ask tough questions.
Such as? Such as, Isn't this whole thing perniciously sexist? Ridiculous as it may sound to media ears, it's a fair question. Unless a man wants to check his manhood at the door and be classified as an "honorary mother," he's not explicitly invited to march with the math-challenged moms.
Remember when the Promise Keepers came to Washington to devote their lives to being better Christian men, better husbands, better fathers? Unlike the gun-hating mamas, they didn't come with a list of action items for Congress. But the media picked them apart. How come women aren't welcome, you patriarchal extremists? And don't think your lack of a political laundry list is going to fool us regarding your unstated political agenda to get people to vote for anti-abortion, anti-gay Republicans.
Journalists regularly get offended at the idea that the Christian Coalition claim to speak for all Christians by their very name. "The so-called Christian Coalition," Dan Rather would - and does - say. Why aren't they offended by the notion when Dees-Thomases proclaims she's the spokesman for "mothers," as if they were all Hillary wanna-bes?
Instead, we get Newsweek's resident oddball feminist, Susan Faludi, explaining that the moms are claiming they don't require men's pathologically desperate need to protect the gals: "The Million Mom March's rhetoric strikes a blow at the psychological solar plexus of the pro-gun movement, the alliance between pro-gun and anti-abortion sentiments." Yes, "Reproductive control and lack of gun control are inseparable halves of what feminists once dubbed the 'male protection racket': If women have no control over their wombs, then they are helpless dependents in need of men's protection. But if women can make their own choices, they no longer need the paternal guardianship either. That is why gun ownership and anti-abortion advocacy go together: each props up the other."
You would think fierce feminists like Faludi would be insulted by the way Donna Dees-Thomases is selling this progressive parade like she's June Cleaver. Every story sells her as a simple housewife from New Jersey, not a professional activist. She begins interviews by claiming "we know moms across the country have been crying in their kitchens about this now for many, many years." Crying in their kitchens?
Dees-Thomases leads with treacly sentiment, and laments deep policy talk. When Fox's Bill O'Reilly probed the reality of gun policy, she snapped, "I didn't come out here, you know, spilling statistics, Bill." When he asked about one of the march's more humorous claims - that gun control is needed to stop tragedies like the shootings at Washington's National Zoo, when the District of Columbia has banned handgun ownership - she demurred, "I don't come here to talk about whether these specific laws would have cured that."
Here's another question. Reporters would like to tout the trend of decreasing violence in America as another fringe benefit of electing Clinton, but that would be off the approved script. Clinton actually pounds at the crisis of gun violence. If this crisis is so awful, and it's happening on your watch, aren't you blameworthy?
So is there a crisis or isn't there? Time magazine reported that the number of Americans killed by guns has fallen almost 20 percent, and the number of children killed by guns has dropped 28 percent. But a recent Time poll showed 70 percent of Americans feel violence in schools has increased. To explain the discrepancy, look no further than the package Time wrapped around these facts: a pile of photographs of grieving mothers who lost their children in shooting deaths. As pollster John Zogby described the "million mom" spirit: "Those who nurture children have a special problem with guns when children are the victims, and that's really why guns are an issue in the last two years."
But "those who nurture children" by that definition aren't responding to a real "epidemic," but to audience-grabbing media frenzies. The Million Mom March is the latest embodiment of media-manipulated, Clintonesque, soccer-mom politics: say this isn't about politics, put your heart on your sleeve for television interviews, and leave your head at home.