Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Who's Afraid of Virginia Foxx?

MARTHA (braying): I DON'T BRAY!
--Edward Albee, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Act 1

Ten years ago in 1994, when Virginia Foxx first ran for the North Carolina Senate, she came to a group I was working for to get our endorsement. The group had been started in Watauga County with the express purpose of raising money to help get women elected to local office -- expressly, pro-choice women. Virginia Foxx applied for support to our Endorsement Committee as a pro-choice woman, and we ended up giving her a little.

Our endorsement meeting with Virginia was memorable because ... Virginia wept. Shed tears in front of us. Just started crying. Said it was terrible how "the men" were treating her in her campaign. It was, as it turned out, my first and last lesson in how Virginia Foxx had learned to manipulate people by playing the poor put-upon victim of other people's prejudices.

That endorsement interview split our group pretty severely. Truth to tell, I was influenced by those tears, which of course is the whole purpose of tears on a face like Virginia's. Some of the women, wiser than I in the ways of manipulative people, were angry. In the end, we became victims of our own charter, since we had formed explicitly as a non-partisan political action committee intent on supporting pro-choice women of either party. So after much debate (one woman said, bitterly, "I feel like I've been screwed and not even kissed," though she didn't in point of fact say "screwed" but another word a good deal blunter), we ended up endorsing Virginia Foxx in her first campaign for the North Carolina Senate.

That endorsement cost us a lot more than $500. Several supporters quit their membership over it, and others expressed their outrage. Some had a past history with Virginia Foxx. They knew that whatever Virginia had told us, she was operating out of naked opportunism and damned expedience, and not out of high-minded principle.

In earlier years, Virginia Foxx's reputation in Watauga County had been born in what were considered "liberal" causes. She was an outspoken advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. She was an outspoken advocate for the reform of a backward and hide-bound county government and worked for zoning ordinances in the first tentative steps Watauga County ever took toward land-use planning and the regulation of subdivisions and mobile-home parks.

She was known as a tigress for her beliefs. As one of her associates in those early days of liberal activism told me, she seems to have felt that any opposition to her opinions was an affront to her, personally. She could turn on people with a savage fury that suggested an unresolved inferiority complex and a twisted personal history. She took no prisoners.

Those who followed this year's poisonous primary campaign between Virginia and Vernon Robinson will know that Vernon accused her of being a closet femi'Nazi and even used against her the very endorsement by "a radical feminist organization" that I had been involved with in 1994. Vernon's case against Virginia was that she was essentially a Foxx-in-sheep's-clothing, that once elected to the U.S. Congress, she would show her true liberal colors.

But the truth now appears much, much sadder than Robinson's burn-the-witch fantasy, for the once pro-choice Virginia Foxx has become a clone of the religious right, who had rather send a woman to an early grave than countenance any abortion for any one under any circumstances. This is her position now. God dictates her marching orders, and God evidently never had any use for female equality. The cognitive dissonance she must experience, saying the things the says!

Her stated positions currently include favoring a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, where once she advocated for the legal adoption of children by gay couples.

It's frankly sickening to see her maneuver through this past decade, selling out what might have actually been principled beliefs for the sake of rising in the North Carolina Republican Party. She's made her bed, and now she must lie down with the most anti-woman forces this side of the Taliban. So that, even if there remains in her some shriveled vestige of a pro-choice attitude, she cannot now ever give voice to it.

Which makes her even more like the Martha of Edward Albee's play, the woman self-aware of her own fatal compromises:

NICK: To you, everybody's a flop. Your husband's a flop, I'm a flop.

MARTHA: You're all flops. I am the Earth Mother, and you are all flops. [To herself] I disgust me.

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