Grave Robber

Article excerpt

A lot of women (and no doubt men) are tired of hearing the yakety-yak about "the women's vote." And why not? It assumes the worst kind of stereotyping.

The "soccer moms" have supposedly morphed into "whipsawed women," a rather ungainly description for certain persons of the female persuasion who are identified by Democratic pollsters Geoff Garin and Celinda Lake as downscaled "cross-pressured" soccer moms.

A whipsaw, as any tool-literate, postmodern woman knows, is a narrow, tapered saw with hooked teeth that moves in opposite directions. Not since Geoffrey Chaucer gave us the gapped-tooth Wife of Bath as a symbol for lust have women been so aggressively charged with such a toothful (not to say toothsome) metaphor.

These teeth-grinding women are said to prefer Democrats for social issues and Republicans for moral values. But who can separate the social from the moral? Judging by the questions they ask, the pollsters do.

Education, for example, is both a social and moral issue. Who doesn't want our kids to be well-educated in a disciplined environment conducive to effective learning and good conduct? It's difficult to see how this is more of a mother's issue than a father's issue, since lousy schools paid for by taxpayer money put pressure on the whole family to find the cash for private schools.

That's why George W. Bush is right about the appeal of vouchers, including those for parochial schools. This issue cuts across ideological lines. His call for faith-based community organizations to participate in after-school programs cuts across economic anxieties, too.

Women, like men, vote with their pocketbooks. A sleeper economic issue gaining attention on Capitol Hill and in the presidential campaign is the federal estate tax, or more aptly, the "death tax."

Working men and women want their children, not the tax collector, to get the money they have worked for. That's what the American dream is all about. But after a $650,000 exemption, the rate of tax is 37 percent, and it gradually increases as the estate increases so that it runs as high as 55 percent. This not only punishes hard-working moms and dads who work for their children's future, but it often kills small family businesses and family farms, which must be sold to satisfy the death tax. It hits hardest the families whose major assets are land or other property. …