Could Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have another "woman problem" on his hands?
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Schwarzenegger made headlines in recent months by deriding political opponents as "girlie men" and ridiculing a group of nurses at a women's conference. Now, an effort to paint the state's teachers as little more than a balky special interest group has angered many critics, who have begun to question why constituencies dominated by women have been subjected to such tough talk.
"He behaves like an arrogant patriarch with respect to women's occupations," said Rose Ann De Moro, executive director of the California Nurses Association. "Nurses, teachers, home health workers -- it's vulgar how he's run roughshod over them. He's arrogant, and he's a bully."
As a candidate, Schwarzenegger was dogged by allegations that he had groped and humiliated women on movie sets. Since then, he has won over many skeptics by appointing women to key staff positions and relying on his wife, journalist and Democrat Maria Shriver, as his closest adviser.
But recently, as he has pressed for budget cuts and a broad package of government reform proposals, some of his turbocharged rhetoric has opened him to charges that his views on women are demeaning and macho.
The California Teachers Association and the California Nurses Association recently showed a willingness to take on the governor, staging protests and buying ads critical of his policies and proposals.
Schwarzenegger has denounced teachers for blocking improvements to education and has made merit-based pay for teachers a centerpiece of his government reform plan.
The teachers union is running radio commercials statewide criticizing the governor's proposals. Top officials of the organization, as well as some school administrators, also have accused Schwarzenegger of reneging on a promise to deliver $2 billion in revenue to schools.
The nurses union has taken out full-page newspaper ads suggesting Schwarzenegger's corporate campaign donors are the real special interests.
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