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Oklahoma's Mary Fallin Plays Mommy Card Against Childless Opponent

3 years ago
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Oklahoma is poised to have its first female governor, as two accomplished women contend for the job, one a Republican member of Congress and former lieutenant governor, the other a former corporate attorney, judge and Democratic legislator. They should have plenty to work with on the campaign trail without having to resort to which one of them is the better homemaker. No, they didn't compare their chocolate chip cookie recipes. It's worse than that.

At a debate Tuesday, Republican Mary Fallin said that the experience of being a mother of six sets her apart and is the key credential that makes her more qualified to serve as governor of Oklahoma than Democrat Jari Askins, who is unmarried and does not have children. Four of the six offspring Fallin takes credit for have been her stepchildren for just under a year since she married their father.
Perhaps if Fallin had cited the challenges of blending two families as evidence that she understands conflicting loyalties and could work in a bipartisan manner, I would feel more kindly about her touting her maternal achievement. Instead, it feels like a throwback to an earlier time when a woman's worth was measured by her marital status, and a woman who did not bear children was expected to explain why not.

Republican Elizabeth Dole ran into this on the campaign trail in 2000 when a woman vying for the presidency was a novelty, and the media seemed more interested in her personal life than in the two Cabinet posts she had held. Profiles of Dole typically pointed out that she was "childless," an adjective that when applied to a woman sounds pejorative.
And yet it was hard to blame the media at the time because Dole invited scrutiny of her personal choices by ending a recitation of her considerable qualifications for the presidency by routinely declaring, "I think the most important career a woman can have is that of a mother raising fine young future citizens." She understood that as a politician she was expected to present herself in the context of a family, and while she had a powerful and well-known husband, Sen. Bob Dole, and an adult stepdaughter, she felt compelled to blunt possible criticism from voters about never having had a child.
Dole's campaign aides were frustrated by what they saw as a double standard. Republican Pat Buchanan was also running for president at the time, and he happens to be childless but was never asked about not fathering children. It just wasn't an issue for a man in the same way it was for a woman, and that's apparently still true today.
Yet the Oklahoma race is between two women, and they're both of an age where they should know better. Republican Fallin is 55; Democrat Askins is 57. They've seen the gains women have made in being judged on their own merits and not an outdated stereotype. The audience at the Oklahoma debate greeted Fallin's citation of her motherhood as her key qualification with groans of displeasure, a signal that the voters have been there, done that on this particular gambit, and that even in a conservative state like Oklahoma where paeans to family values are standard fare, not having kids shouldn't be a barrier to public service.
Filed Under: Woman Up, Campaigns

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4 Comments

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imgreatgranny

As a life long resident of Oklahoma, mother of two, grandmother of five and great grandmother of two, I say that Mary Fallin has done more good for our state than the ladies of the view. Before you weigh in on a subjest, be sure the facts are straight. For your info, Mary has been a God send to the people of Oklahoma. Not only does she deserve to be Govenor, she was elected lieutenant Governor at the same time we elected a democratic Govenor. Her good works speak for themselves. We believe in a lot of things in Oklahoma, one of those being, Mary Fallin, our next Govenor.

October 25 2010 at 11:48 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
comity2

I do not think Fallin, should have brought the Kids, into light. I live in Oklahoma and did not know, she had kids or had gotten married, last I heard about her, she was in the news for seeing a married man or something. I knew she was in some kind of office all the time. It seems, if she could, she should have been home with the kids more. I'm not an Askins fan, but, it seems she could do her job, better, not having to worry about children at home. When I worked, I aways worried about my child, and what was happening in his world, when I couldn't be there.

October 25 2010 at 10:50 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
samw1819

If you think about it, what else does Fallin have to offer as being qualified, talk about a bag of rocks, and if if remember, she was having an affair with her current husband, (at the time he was assigned to her as her bodyguard), while one of the two was still married. One could say, we the taxpayers of Oklahoma paid for that courtship.

October 25 2010 at 6:57 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to samw1819's comment
hunterwatches

Sam a few corrections. Mary Fallin married a man named Wade Christensen last year just as she was announcing her candidacy for governor. The affair occurred with a different man back in the 90s with an Oklahoma highway patrol officer assigned to her as a bodyguard when she was lt. gov. Both were married and Fallin's tryst was witnessed by a private investigator. During the nasty divorce that came, Fallin's lawyer tried to falsely paint the the picture that her husband had an unnatural relationship with their minor daughter, implying incest. Mary Fallin knew that wasn't true, but had no problems giving her own daughter the life time false reputation of being in an incestuous relationship. Some mother. Fallin runs on a family values and motherhood platform, but she is a homewrecker, an adulteress, gave her child a life long blemish, and married a man for political convenience. Her children, raised mostly by their father, and her new husband's children, who were raised by their own mother, are all adults. She's an embarrassment.

October 25 2010 at 10:52 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

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