Linda Greenhouse the New York Times' former Supreme Court reporter (and left-wing ranter at commencement speeches ), now writes a twice-a-month column for nytimes.com. Wednesday she hailed birth-control activist and new liberal martyr Sandra Fluke as a civil rights pioneer on the level of (naturally) Anita Hill, while tarring Rush Limbaugh as a thug, in "Accidental Heroines ."
First Greenhouse compared Fluke to Lilly Ledbetter, the Alabama woman who lost a sex-discrimination lawsuit over pay in the Supreme Court.
Two women, a generation apart: one disrespected by the three-day rant of a thuggish talk show host, the other dissed by five members of the Supreme Court. Each is an accidental heroine (as was Anita Hill, more than 20 years ago) whose plight touched a nerve already inflamed by deeper concerns roiling the public sphere.
After going on and on about the Ledbetter decision from 2007, Greenhouse finally pivoted to Fluke, rejoicing in the fact that the Democrats won the upper hand but worried that the party might overplay it.
President Obama’s support among women is surging, and this entire episode has obviously given the Democrats a strong hand. But it’s a hand that can be overplayed. Fair play for Lilly Ledbetter had no discernible downside. But hitting just the right note now, and sustaining it through a long campaign, may require more delicacy than mere repetition of the “Republican war on women” mantra offers. Beyond slogans, we need a serious conversation about how women live their lives and about how women’s ability to control their fertility contributes to the welfare of American families. I have no doubt that the Democrats are on the right side of history on this one. But I also worry that despite the exhilaration of recent weeks, when everything seemed to break their way in large part as a result of stupefying blunders by their adversaries, the Democrats still have a substantive job to do.