The Latest False Wedge Issue

Member Group : Salena Zito

She gave a dramatic eye-roll in reaction to all of the fuss that Democrats and the president attempted to create over equal pay for women last week.

A Democrat herself, she said she has carved out a decent, comfortable life for her family over the years as a waitress at a local restaurant.

"I am in many ways my own boss," she explained. "It is up to me to get the order right, treat people well, and use my personal skills to increase my wages."

And she is "sick and tired of my party treating me like a victim. This is not 1970, and it’s insulting."

Then she elbowed the waiter standing beside her, who joked that, despite being younger, he has to work twice as hard to keep up with her earnings.

This woman’s frustration with Democrats comes from social and traditional media flooded with tweets, emails and news reports, and from the president himself, all pushing the message that he will protect women from evil Republicans who want to keep her gender from its rightful earning power.

The president, she said, "is trying to create a wedge issue when there isn’t one. Why can’t he focus on things people are really concerned about, like bringing back lost jobs, a tangible thing that has affected housing, communities, tax bases and schools?"

Last Tuesday, President Obama signed an executive order encouraging federal contractors to pay men and women the same amount of money for the same amount of work.

He claimed that women earn 77 cents to every dollar earned by men — a very broad statement and, in many ways, false, according to a Labor Department analysis showing that when you factor in job experience, education and hours worked, the difference in median wages between men and women shrinks to 5 to 7 cents on the dollar.

White House officials had no problem using that same Labor Department analysis to explain away their own 88-cent wage gap between female and male staffers. But they failed to mention it once in all of their press releases, or in Obama’s speech.

Instead, the president scolded: "This isn’t just about treating women fairly. This is about Republicans seemingly opposing any efforts to even the playing field for working families. I don’t know why you would resist the idea that women should be paid the same as men and then deny that that’s not always happening out there."

The White House took that a step further, suggesting that only women should ask White House press secretary Jay Carney about gender equality, as if only women can cover gender issues. White House communications person Jennifer Palmieri tweeted that "6 of the 7 news organizations sent men to ask the press secretary about the problem of gender pay equity."

Apparently she didn’t notice that White House spokesman Carney is a man. According to her line of thinking, if only women should ask questions about gender issues, then only a woman should answer them.

Who in the real world thinks this way?

Barack Obama has divided this country since the beginning of his presidency. He has not been transformative; instead, he has indulged one special-interest group after another — women in this case, but also blacks, young people, the lesbian-gay-transgender community and Hispanics in earlier instances.

He has governed by sliced-and-diced division, fear, secrecy and resentment, all accented with toothless executive orders used as political weapons.

This is definitely not the transparent and compassionate administration that he promised.

Maybe this is what happens when you over-promise, or maybe this is who Barack Obama is.

Or maybe this is what you do as president when you face an even more crushing defeat in your second midterm election cycle than you did in your first.

Women typically vote for Democrats. So I guess this is the time to try to manipulate my gender with false information, to get them to do what you want in the next election.

But at least one woman isn’t falling for it again. She is busy out-hustling her male counterparts at a local restaurant because, as she said, "I have plans for a comfortable retirement."

Salena Zito
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Political Reporter