Honolulu Lite


Fur begins to fly
in the race for gov

Hawaii should be proud of the fact that we have two smart, competent women as the leading candidates for governor. But it was only a matter of time before someone referred to the race between Republican Linda Lingle and Democrat Mazie Hirono as a "cat fight."

And it wasn't a long matter of time, at that. Just days after the primary election, "The Channel 2 News with Joe Moore," like most other television news programs, did a piece on Lingle's newest TV commercial in which she accuses Hirono of being incapable of change because she has been part of the ruling party for so long. The piece was hard-hitting but not really nasty. In these days of political correctness, however, any political commercial critical of someone is bound to be branded a "smear."

Personally, I see nothing wrong with "smears" as long as they are truthful. Or at least entertaining. It makes me nervous when candidates are too nice to each other in the heat of battle. It's like watching an all-star football game where millionaire players "compete."

Hirono attacked Lingle's "attack" ad, and the tone was set for what promises to be a lively campaign with plenty of mud to be tossed from each side. (I have nothing against mud being tossed as long as it is truthful mud. And entertaining.)

After the Lingle-Hirono piece, Channel 2 cut back to Joe Moore at the anchor desk, who held up his hands in the fashion of cat's claws and made a "rereroww!" sound, obviously characterizing the conflict as a "cat fight."

I THOUGHT, "Joe, Joe, Joe. Are you insane, mate?"

When men unthinkingly refer to any battle between two women as a "cat fight," it insults not only women in general, but cats in particular.

Cat fights are ugly things. They start with two cats hunkered down outside a bedroom window, usually mine. The cats make unearthly noises for several hours. The noises sound alternately like a human baby being strangled and a Ducati 998 motorcycle accelerating through a quarter-mile in five seconds. The fight itself is generally a short affair, held about three feet off the ground, with a goodly amount of scratching, biting and shrieking, which, by the way, sounds nothing like the cat sounds Joe Moore makes. (You gotta BE the cat, Joe. BE the cat.)

In other words, a cat fight is much more intense than a political argument, even between two women candidates.

It is up to professional broadcasters and commentators not to degrade this important race by characterizing it as "a cat fight," "mud wrestling" or "bunny brawl."

Women should be able to conduct ruthless, sordid and squalid political campaigns without being given demeaning labels. After all, it was the male, chauvinist pigs who taught them every dirty campaign trick they know.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. E-mail

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