Open Mic Night

Cambell Brown and others are making a big deal out of Ed Rendell's remarks yesterday.
Politicians are supposed to watch what they say - especially when a nearby microphone might be on. But, yesterday in Philadelphia, Gov. Ed Rendell made some blunt remarks that could be construed as insulting, if not sexist, about Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, chosen for Homeland Security chief by President-elect Barack Obama.
They could be construed as insulting if one is looking to be insulted.
His words were picked up by an open microphone at the podium of the National Governors Conference, held at Independence Hall. "Janet's perfect for that job," Rendell is heard to say. "Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19, 20 hours a day to it."
That sounds like a glowing endorsement to me - but Brown is wondering why no one questioned whether Chertoff or Ridge were challenged on their full family lives when under consideration for the job
"Wow," comments CNN's Campbell Brown. After saying she likes Rendell for his candor, she also takes him to task for his characterization of Napolitano, 51, a Democrat who's served her state since 2002. "If a man had been Obama's choice for the job, would having a family or not having a family ever even have been an issue?" Brown said.
But Rendell's not part of the hiring process - he's just observing. And, by the way, his observation was not intended for mass consumption.
"Is there an assumption that if you're family-free then you have no life? By some, yes," she continues. "Your comments do perpetuate stereotypes that put us in boxes, both mothers and single women."
Not at all. Rendell could easily have been making the same comment about some workaholic man. But let's be honest - men routinely abandon their families while they embrace challenging jobs that bring great prestige. Women are considered, to their credit, as less likely to do the same. A more appropriate question is whether the news media should use stolen comments, meant to be private, for generating false controversies.