Friday, September 24, 2004

The Women Driving the 2004 Presidential Campaign

"What happened? Karen Hughes. The true genius behind the Bush success is not Karl Rove; she�s a suburban working mom in sensible shoes. It was clear from the start that Team Bush realized that the old, white, male face of the Republican Party was a recipe for losing those crucial suburban women in the swing states who are socially progressive and fiscally conservative. As long as the face of Republicanism was that of Newt Gingrich, ready to talk about women soldiers getting gynecological infections in foxholes, the GOP would face a Democratic hegemony, to paraphrase Rove, for the next twenty years.
So they devised a deliberate strategy that went unnoticed by Democratic strategists, most of whom are white guys over 50: to showcase a moderate, mainstream feminist makeover for the Bush brand. Everyone fell for it, including the press. Bush�s speeches are routinely cast before the eye, I am convinced, of Karen Hughes, who spins tax cuts as a boon to women entrepreneurs, like the one Laura Bush mentioned in her convention speech (Carmella Chaifos, �the only woman to own a tow-truck company in all of Iowa�). The fallen heroes of Iraq are �moms and dads.� Afghanistan was the first time U.S. troops were deployed for a feminist goal, �so Afghan girls could go to school.�"

Whatever you believe politically, this story is an interesting perspective on avoiding "same-sex" leadership when trying to build a compelling vision for an organization. It turns out that men and women are different and bring fundamentally different perspectives. Ignoring that fact is a classic blunder for any organization.

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