Penetrating our woman-unfriendly prez’s estrogen shield


No, this isn’t a book about the Brazilian waxing craze or an all-female tribe in New Guinea. Bushwomen zooms in on the clutch of Republican broads that George W. Bush has gathered round himself as an estrogen shield. Lefty journalist Laura Flanders argues that Bush’s double-edged agenda is to bolster his appeal to female voters while distracting them from the harsh, women-unfriendly nature of his policies: “The Bushwomen are the media-friendly face of an extremist administration.”

With single-minded fury, Flanders profiles six key figures in W.’s administration, including Condoleezza Rice, former university president and oil company director turned national security adviser; Karen Hughes, onetime counselor to the president and guardian of his image as a “compassionate conservative”; Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, loyal friend to agribusiness; and Secretary of the Interior Gale Ann Norton, an anti-environmentalist who supported drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve (“a great white nothing”) and who came to office after working as chief lobbyist for a lead-paint manufacturer. Flanders sometimes goes overboard in her rhetorical prosecution of these steely, accomplished women, yet she offers a fascinating lens through which to view the current administration.