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Conventional Midwifery BY DEBORAH LIMERBECK New York City THANK HEAVEN for Ann Richards. At long last we are getting the answer to that timeless question posed by Rex Harrison: “Why Can’t a Woman be More like a Man?” Governor Richards can. As the Chairperson of the Democratic National Convention, she earned a new halo as a patronage saint. In this “Year of the Woman,” Richards delivered the goods. Waxing on about her “nearly perfect grandchild,” Lilly, may have scored points on the family values meters, but her all-too-human protege, Lena Guerrero, who is running for the Texas Railroad Commission, is the real beneficiary of Richards’ largess. While former Gov. Jerry Brown had to sweat for his time before the C-Span camera, Guerrero got one of the coveted prime-time speaking slots. These things count in politics, even when the networks don’t show up. With all the attention women got at the Democratic National Convention, one thing stands out. There are few, if any, Ann Richardses in Washington. There are no women chairing Congressional committees. You do not see female faces in the top political slots on Capitol Hill. But do not worry. The Democrats have declared this “The Year of the Woman.” Strike up the band. Unleash the balloons. What women may lack in power they make up for in pageantry. PROMISE HER ANYTHING Conventions make you a believer. At first glance, it seems like a sporting event, but then it becomes clear that those revellers in silly hats are not just coming to life when the TV cameras pan across their domain; they are almost in a constant state of adulation. Across this stage the Democrats paraded a multitude of female candidates. They were all smiles, this rainbow of women. The talk from these female contenders also struck many chords; for some the rallying cry was Anita Hill or empowerment; others in search of the vernacular spoke of “A League of Our Own” or the “Sister Act.” Heavens. It is all too easy to get pulled in. Even the actors oops, candidates started believing the reviews. As one female Senate candidate was overheard saying to another, “I heard we were great last night.” Ahem. What about the last decade? What about that record? Family leave? The U.S. is the only industrialized nation with no such policy. Child care? The Equal Rights Amendment? Equal pay? The Freedom of Choice Act? Just you wait, women are told, but what about the fact Deborah Lutterbeck is a financial writer based in New York City and Washington, D.C. that breast cancer attacks one in nine women, yet the cost of mammograms is inadequately covered by most insurance plans? MORE WOMEN? Aside from Governor Richards \(who was Mikulski of Maryland the only female Democrat in the Senate played the role of elder stateswoman at the convention. Mikulski hopes to have some company next year; break out the prayer wheels. She needs it desperately. The Democratic Party needs it desperately, for Mikulski is not an inspiring leader and her performance at the convention was baffling. On the first night of the convention Mikulski took her place on the platform and introduced to the conventioneers at least six of the women she hopes will join her in the Senate. \(That would make her the political midwife of the the Woman and in this Year of Change the people are going to turn to the type of party that nominated Geraldine Ferraro for the Vice Presidency. Never mind what happened to that ticket; there was more from the lady from Maryland. Her next big appearance was as one of the chosen two who nominated Senator Albert Gore for the Vice Presidency. On that Thursday night the entire Madison Square Garden was in full cola commercial swing. Mikulski had to quiet them and she did. She wanted them to know something about Al Gore something special. When Gore’s son was in a Baltimore hospital on the verge of death, Gore stayed with his son day and night, she said. In fact, she told the hushed crowd, after Gore was pulled back to Washington for a crucial floor vote, “Al being Al” immediately returned to Baltimore to be with his son. Wow.’ Al Gore is not the kind of man who will abandon a dying child. You mean he’s human too? Someone sell that lady a bridge. The good Senator may have come a long way but she may have missed her subway stop. There is a saying that a fox is a wolf who sends roses. The same could be said about the male Democrats over in the Senate. While they are all too willing to exploit this latest women’s movement and decry what happened to Anita Hill and .knit their brows and shake their heads about the tenterhooks on which Roe versus Wade is held, have they forgotten that it was in the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee that the Hill drama was staged? Republican heavies, but Chairman Joseph Biden, a one-time Democratic Presidential contender himself, was the one who assured the blustering Clarence Thomas that he enjoyed the benefit of the doubt. And the Democrat-controlled Senate decided that, after all, Thomas was fit to sit on the Supreme Court. But the Democrats tried to put all this unpleasantness behind them at the Convention. In Madison Square Garden it was all the big nasty Industrial Complex Republicans’ doing. And despite was to say it wasn’t right it should not have happened that way. Now we have the Democrats providing the stage for launching “The Year of the Woman,” the movement to place more women into Congress than ever before. RULES FOR RADICALS The House of Representatives, with 20 female Democrats, offers some better role models. Women with more combative spirits can listen to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who advises newcomers to “speak up” and not be intimidated by seniority and hierarchy. She practices what she preaches. On April 29, Waters watched part of her Los Angeles district go up in flames. Angered by the lack of response from President Bush, she took her case to the White House. She told the President that the young people in her district have been turned into criminals because they have no economic chance. She said that she looked at the President’s eyes and he clearly did not understand. Bush turned to his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Jack Kemp, and he too did not understand. It was only Labor Secretary Lynn Martin who acknowledged the urban crisis. Waters’ direct approach may not work for everyone and Waters says she does not hold others to her own standards, but there are other ways of coping. Another Washington veteran, Rep. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., herself a Senate contender, recommerids a more diplomatic approach. “You have to be focused, flexible and build coalitions,” she says. Once they get in Congress, lawmakers find that other people are already working on the issues they are interested in, so sometimes they end up working on something very different than they had planned. It is also very easy to lose focus, she said. Boxer knows the risks of becoming too entrenched in the Congressional firmament. Like many members, her casual use of the House Bank, which was de rigueur in Congress, gave her an unwelcome spot on the bounced check list which could have cost her the primary election. Women also can find trailblazers in unlikely places. For example, a group of freshman Republicans in the House the so-called Gang of Seven will be in large part responsible for THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15