A toppolitician who chooses for his family

by Ingrid Robeyns on March 12, 2010

Dutch politics was shaken up today, when “Wouter Bos”:http://www.pvda.nl/politici/politici/wouterbos, the political leader of the social-democrats, “PVDA”:http://nu.pvda.nl/, announced that he will leave politics in order to be able to spend more time on another major responsibility he has in life – his three children and his wife. His children are almost one, four, and six, and his decision to want to spend more time with them was the only reason he gave in his unexpected “farewell speech”:http://nu.pvda.nl/berichten/2010/03/Verklaring+Wouter+Bos.html. The Dutch cabinet was dissolved recently over a dispute between the Christian Democratic Party (“CDA”:http://www.cda.nl/) and the PVDA on whether or not to continue sending troops to Afghanistan, and elections are scheduled for early June.

I think this is a great loss for the social-democratic party, a great loss for Dutch politics and public life, but an amazing supporting signal for the kind of feminist movement which I endorse. A top male politicians says: “Enough. I don’t want to have children and a wife whom I never see.” And he uses the right word: “major responsibility”, not just something he fancies doing. His decision will serve to an increasing acceptance that both men and women are entitled to combine having a family with doing paid work – even if this implies that they need to quit a top position.

I’ve seen many short interviews today with other Dutch politicians and other public figures. And it’s interesting that most of them said they “understood” his decision, adding that he made enormous sacrifices to his family life in the last years. Of course, it is likely that other motives played a role too – but I don’t see any serious grounds for doubting his official reason as being the main reason for his decision. When about six years ago, he was ‘merely’ an MP (and not yet a Minister of Finance), he choose to use his legal right to parental leave and thus was home with his baby one day a week. I therefore think that the few public figures who have today said that his was just ‘an excuse’ and that he should give his ‘real reasons’ for quiting politics are wrong and should be deeply ashamed of themselves. If a woman were to give ‘time for family’ as the reason we would believe her; if a man, who earlier on in his political life took parental leave, gives the same reason, we should similarly believe him. Anything else would be wrong and sexist. I hope he and his kids will enjoy the time together.


by Harry on March 12, 2010

(found at Luke Surl: H/T to CT commenter, tiredofblogs)

The Republican campaign to rename everything after Ronald Reagan has reached new heights of absurdity with the suggestion that Reagan should replace Ulysses S. Grant on the $US50 bill. A couple of questions struck me here
(a) Wasn’t Grant a Republican himself ?
(b) Don’t the Repugs have anybody other than Reagan to name things after?
The answer to the second question turns out to be “No”, and explains the first. Looking back at Republican presidents, nobody is really keen to remember Bush I and II, Ford or Nixon, and the same applies to Hoover[1], Coolidge and Harding. But at least some effort is required to forget these guys, unlike the non-entities who followed and immediately preceded Grant.

In the 20th century, Eisenhower was successful and widely admired, but has long been denounced by movement Repugs as the archetypal RINO. More recently, the same condemnation has been extended to Teddy Roosevelt. That leaves Lincoln and Grant. This otherwise unexceptional NYT story about Texas school textbooks explains (if you read through to the end) why these founding heroes of the Republican party are being downgraded.

With the obligatory exception of Washington, the only American presidents who pass the purity test of today’s GOP are Reagan and Jefferson.*

[click to continue…]