Friday, January 23, 2009

Aggressive Douchebaggery: It works!

Michelle Cottle has a very perceptive post discussing aggressive careerism in the context of the Caroline Kennedy debacle. Cottle's point is obvious, but some of us with high self-regard need to be reminded that, in order to get where you want to go, especially in this dire climate, proper decorum and "face" are drawbacks, as Cottle notes in discussing Burris vis-a-vis Kennedy:

The man was appointed to Obama's Senate seat by a governor charged with trying to sell that very seat, prompting many folks to ask how Burris could be so vulgar and shameless in his ambition. The entire Democratic leadership vowed that Ron Paul would be president before Burris would be seated in the Senate. But Burris reallllly wanted that job. So he showed up at the Capitol on swearing-in day and got himself very publicly kicked out. Undeterred, he kept on chugging, chatting up the drama-obsessed media, meeting with members of the caucus. And look at him now! Downing ice tea and warm rolls in the Senate dining room with the rest of the club.

Caroline wasn't pushy enough. She wasn't aggressive enough. And she wasn't shameless enough to power through all the hurdles in her path and take what she wanted. On the most basic level, I suppose you could chalk this whole mess up to her individual personality. (Certainly, neither Hillary! nor Sarah! would have folded so easily.) But when we're talking about the number of gals on the political landscape in general, it's worth noting that such Carolinian personality traits are not infrequently cited as contributing to the stubborn gender imbalance within a number of fields, my own included.

Though Cottle arrives at a gender-specific conclusion, the necessity of aggressive douchebaggery should be drilled into the heads of a whole category of talented men and women who don't want to appear too desperate in their career ambitions, leading to stalled lives and thwarted goals.