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Jane Swift's Not-so-Swift Critics (posted May 15, 2001)

Democratic critics of Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift's decision not to step aside following the birth of twins have put their foot in their mouths in a big way. Challenging her assertion that she could run the state via phone, fax, and email, members of the Governor's Council raised a hornet's nest and fell victim to the classic double standard that uses a different standard for female politicians than is true in the case of male counterparts.

Consider the case of Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Almond. In February, Almond was incapacitated for five weeks following prostate cancer surgery. During that time, the governor ran the state from his home, keeping in touch with aides through phone calls, faxes, and personal visits. No one suggested he step aside. Public opinion polls found no ill effects on his popularity.

No deleterious consequences arose when New York City Mayor Rudy Giuiliani underwent prostate therapy and U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond went in and out of the hospital. Observers merely assumed that the humane reaction was to support their efforts and allow a reasonable recovery time.

Although this obviously was not the goal of her partisan critics, Governor Swift now is reaping a bonanza of sympathetic media coverage that should boost her popularity. Look for her approval rating to go up as voters see a more human side of the underdog governor.
Copyright 2000Karen Martin Media Services