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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 21, 2005 / 10 Adar II, 5765

Girl problems in Op-Ed Land

By Michael Kinsley


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | When the New York Times anointed Maureen Dowd as a columnist nine years ago, I gave her some terrible advice. I said, "You've got to write boy stuff. The future of NATO. Campaign spending reform. Throw weights. Otherwise, they won't take you seriously." The term "throw weights" had been made famous by a Reagan-era official who said that women can't understand them — whatever they are, or were. But clearly the term had bubbled into the man's mind for reasons that many women understood better than he did himself.

Dowd wisely ignored me, and proceeded to reinvent the political column as a comedy of manners and a running commentary on the psychopathologies of power. It is the first real innovation in this tired literary form since Walter Lippmann. Eighty years ago, Lippmann developed the self-important style in which lunch with a VIP proceeds down the digestive track and emerges as a judicious expression of concern about developments in danger of being overlooked. Most of today's columns are still variations and corruptions of this formula. But Dowd is different, and better.

So the question is: Did it have to be a girl? Or could a boy have built an Op-Ed career out of feelings and motives and all that ick? The question is pressing because of the current controversy over the number of women's bylines on newspaper opinion pages. (Only one in five or so at the Los Angeles Times, even fewer at the Other Times and the Washington Post.) As the guy in charge of opinion at the L.A. Times, I have endured some horrendous insults, such as being compared to the president of Harvard.

Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers is in trouble for suggesting that inherent differences between men and women might be part of the reason there are so few women at the scholarly peaks of math and science. To be a university president, you are supposed to reject any such notion out of hand.

In the Op-Ed controversy, by contrast, talk of innate differences between men and women is not merely permissible: It is the very justification offered by some women (and deeply resented by others) for demanding more women's bylines. Dowd declares a girlish reluctance to be mean, which she says she overcame, and she urges her sisters to play the boys' game with the boys. The linguist Deborah Tannen pretty much shares Dowd's analysis, but wants the mountain to come to Muhammad: Women shouldn't have to adapt to the peacocky political culture created by men; the culture should learn from and adapt to women.

Meanwhile Dahlia Lithwick, writing in Slate, observes that this discussion has been all-girls so far and demands that the boys strip off their girlie coyness and jump right in. This is a terrifying invitation. Even the most testosteronic male commentator might be excused for deciding that developments in Uzbekistan really require his insights this week. In such circumstances, I always ask myself, "What would the president of Harvard do?" So I proceed.

It is hard to think of a hiring decision where sex or race ought to matter less than in choosing a professor of mathematics. That makes it a good focus for a discussion of meritocracy, reverse discrimination, innate abilities, cultural prejudice and so on. And it's just too bad that Harvard seems incapable of allowing its president to participate in such a discussion.

By contrast, there cannot be many places where "diversity" is less a euphemism for reverse discrimination and more a common-sense business requirement than on a newspaper Op-Ed page. Diversity of voices, experiences, sensibilities are not about fairness to writers. They are about serving up a good meal for readers. Sure, it's possible that a man might have come up with the Maureen Dowd formula that has so enriched the New York Times Op-Ed page. But in this busy world, diversity in the traditional categories of ethnicity and gender is a sensible, efficient short cut. Everyone involved should be trying harder, including me.

Newspaper opinion sections also want diversity of political views. In recent years that, frankly, has led to reverse discrimination in favor of conservatives. And an unpleasant reality is that each type of diversity is at war with the others. If pressure for more women succeeds — as it will — there will be fewer black voices, fewer Latinos, and so on.

Why should this be so? Aren't there black women and conservative Latinos? Of course there are. There may even be a wonderfully articulate disabled Latina lesbian conservative who is undiscovered because she is outside the comfortable old-boy network. But there probably aren't two. It's not a question of effort, it's mathematics. Each variable added to the equation subverts efforts to maximize all the other variables. You can seek out the best Japanese restaurant in town, or the best steakhouse. But if you want a Japanese steakhouse, you will have to settle for Benihana's of Tokyo. Or something like that. Where is that Harvard math professor when you need her?

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Michael Kinsley is Los Angeles Times Editorial and Opinion editor and former editor of Slate.com. Comment by clicking here.

© 2005 Los Angeles Times Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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