Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cathie Black Unhinged

I hadn’t planned on writing more about the saga of just-fired New York City schools Chancellor, Cathie Black. In truth, I had not been following her tenure very closely. One post seemed about right. Link here.

But then, yesterday, Black decided to add her comments to the media firestorm. As we shall see, she should have stayed in bed.

In a New York Post article Black showed the world her petulant, insolent, and supercilious sides… with a few whines thrown in for effect.

Her appalling performance raised several salient questions.

First, when an aspiring woman manager looks for role models, what will happen to her if she decides to emulate Cathie Black?

Second, given Black’s poor judgment and bad character, how did she reach the pinnacle of the American publishing industry?

Third, to what extent has she just revealed that people at the top do not deserve to be there? Doesn’t it seem that her interest was more personal than civic? Doesn’t the episode leave us with the impression that she and her like owe their promotions to cabal of friends who do not care for the integrity of the system?

As I said, Cathie Black should have quit while she was ahead.

If you are wondering why Black got fired, you need but look at a meeting she held with parents on January 14. When asked about school overcrowding, she responded that the answer to the problem was “birth control.”

Granted, she does not reach the Barack level of superciliousness, but it’s not for lack of trying.

Then, when she was asked about classroom size she compared the problem to “Sophie’s Choice.” You can't be much more insensitive.

For those who do not recall, the William Styron novel of that name shows a mother and her two children brought before a concentration camp guard. The guard gives her a choice: choose which one of your children I will murder or else I will murder both of them.

Cathie Black allowed parents to believe that, in her mind, the solution to the problem of classroom size was perhaps to eliminate children. Insensitive does not quite do it: grotesque is a better word.

You can dismiss these as glib, offhand remarks by someone who did not know what she was doing, but such remarks, made in public, manifest a singular lack of character.

Just in case you had any tendency to sympathize with her-- and you should not -- Black offered her own defense.

While pretending that she is a warrior, Black could not resist offering a classic feminist whine: "If I were a guy, would I have had the pounding that I did?"

Memo to C. Black: Real warriors don’t whine.

The reality is, being a woman in our politically correct world seems to have been her major qualification for her position. She had no others. No man with her resume would have been tapped to direct the New York City Board of Education.

Adhering to the principle that one good whine deserves another, Black then appealed to our sympathies: “It was like having to learn Russian in a weekend -- and then give speeches in Russian and speak Russian in budget committees and City Council meetings,"

How did it happen that she did not know this before she accepted the job? How did it happen that our mayor did not know this?

No one learns Russian in a weekend. No one who possesses the least humility thinks that she can learn it in a weekend and then give speeches and chair meetings in Russian.

If you didn’t know what it meant to be full of yourself, now you do.

Black was not through whining. She couldn’t resist complaining that when she was working as schools chancellor she had to suffer the indignity of not wearing her designer duds.

Hasn’t it ever crossed her mind that dressing appropriately for a job is not an imposition and an indignity? Can you imagine a general or a colonel complaining that the requirement that he wear a uniform deprived him of the thrill of wearing a bespoke suit?

More than that, Cathie Black comes across as a condescending limousine liberal who looks down on the little people. Perhaps this explains why New York’s greatest limousine liberal, Mayor Bloomberg, thinks so highly of her.

When an executive fails to respect his staff or constituents, he is exhibiting a major character flaw. One comes away wondering how Black rose up the corporate media ladder, because good character was not on her resume.

Now, for my questions. If Cathie black is so deficient in character, what kind of a role model will she be for young women who want to rise through the corporate ranks?

There are many reasons why there are more men than women in the corporate corner offices. Most of them have to do with the life choices that women make.

Of course, feminists do not respect the choices these women have made. If a woman wants to have more time for her children, feminists consider her a sellout and an apostate.

Worse yet, feminists have been peddling a narrative whereby men want to keep women down and in their places. This implies that male mentors are not to be trusted. Feminism tells women to trust other women.

The truth, as experience tells us, is that in today’s America male executives are often positively disposed toward young women’s career advancement. When feminists allow women to believe that men are their enemies, they are closing off a road to career advancement.

Black is encouraging women to whine their way to the top and to shout sexism whenever they are not promoted. She is adding that once women have reached the pinnacle of corporate success, they should shower their inferiors with contempt.

This episode tells us that in certain circles, corporate life is about what you can get away with, not what you can contribute. It tells the American people that the system is rigged in favor of unqualified cronies, and that the people at the top are in it for themselves, not for the public good.


Phocion said...

At the very least one can use women to cut off one's competition and one can have it both ways by promoting those who lack skill and ability thereby demonstrating in the long run that "women" cannot cut it and ensuring that the real competition, whether male or female, gets shut out.
It has the added value of making one appear to be non discriminatory and meeting EEO guidelines.
I have watched this happen to very qualified men and women a number of times. That is how the aforementioned person gets promoted. It is a WIN/WIN for many in upper management.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

That's a very interesting angle, Phocion, and one that I had not thought of before.

Do you think the intention is conscious or unconscious?

Surely, that describes the fallout of the incident, but do you think that Bloomberg intended it or did was he being motivated by unconscious thoughts.

Phocion said...

In most cases the intention is concious. Not being that conversant with NYC politics I cannot say for sure, but I would not put anything past a long term politician.
Any really sly manager recognized that the growth of feminism was something that could be easily used to maintain ones own power base.
Also remember that if one has people who are very good at their jobs one may not want to lose them to management. One of the things that any high achiever has to watch out for is becoming too important to the job.
Most early feminist, also includes many of today's, are not very good at accomplishing a real job, but are very good at making trouble. One way to isolate them is to put them in management where they feel like they have power, but can do little damage. Once this mistake is made the Peter Principle takes over until they have gotten to a position and point where they can create real damage.
It is especially prevalent on the left. How many Jamie Gorlicks does one see in postions of authority only to see them make a hash out of everything they touch. What is Hilary Clinton's real accomplishments? The left has been very good at using women and not in their best interest.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I agree with you entirely about Jamie Gorelick and Hillary Clinton.

But this still leaves open another question: why did Cathie Black accept a job offer when she must have known that she could never really do the job?