03 Oct 2005 On Harriet Miers: Women Preaching, Dog Walking
The White House distributed information on Harriet Miers today that contains these passages:
* Like Justice O’Connor, throughout her career, Ms. Miers has been a female trailblazer.
* In 1972, Ms. Miers became the first woman hired at Dallas’s Locke Purnell Rain Harrell. In March 1996, her colleagues elected her the first female President of Locke, Purnell, Rain & Harrell, at that time a firm of about 200 lawyers. She was the first woman to lead a Texas firm of that size.
* In 1985, Ms. Miers was selected as the first woman to become President of the Dallas Bar Association.
* In 1992, she became the first woman elected President of the State Bar of Texas. Ms. Miers served as the President of the State Bar of Texas from 1992 to 1993.
Things like this set my teeth on edge. While I acknowledge that the picture painted is one of an intrepid, intelligent go-getter, the “Oh look! A woman achieved something!” tone reminds me of Samuel Johnson’s 1763 quote:
Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.
Have we achived nothing since then? Can we not get beyond the notion that a successful female is an object of wonder and awe and simply discuss qualifications?
Such as the nominee’s views on, oh, I don’t know, maybe the Constitution?
Johnson, in another context, said of some individuals of good character and worth who nonetheless by temperament were undeserving of meritorious positions: “A cow is a very good animal in the field; but we turn her out of a garden.”
I want to know: Is Harriet Miers a star of the field, or of the garden?