Liberal New York Times columnist Gail Collins appeared on Monday’s Good Morning America to complain that one of the biggest unresolved issues for women is a lack of government-provided pre and after-school care for children. She complained, "And we still have not come near dealing with the question of who takes care of the kids if both parents are out working."
Highlighting the favorite bogeyman of the left, Richard Nixon, the New York Times columnist whined that in 1971, "Congress passed a bipartisan bill giving quality early childhood education and after-school programs for any family that wanted them in the entire country." She lamented that the legislation was vetoed by President Nixon.
Collins, who was promoting When Everything Changed, her new book about the role of women since 1960, blurted, "I can forgive him [Nixon] for Watergate before that [the veto]." Co-host Roberts prompted the columnist, whom she never identified as a liberal, to tout the benefits of the sexual revolution: "And you also said, which I never thought about until I read your book, the sexual revolution was really helped women and explain why that was."
GAIL COLLINS: And until then there, had been this double standard, forever, in which men could do whatever they wanted, sexually, but women were supposed to be chaste and virgins this will they got married. And if that was the rule then, really, it explained a lot about why women didn't think they were going to go to graduate school or go to business in a serious way. You were going to get married to protect your chastity and then you were going to have children and it really lapped off into everything else.
At no point did Collins or Roberts even consider the possible downside, such as the skyrocketing number of children being born out of wedlock. Instead, Roberts closed out the segment by touting the "fascinating" book. The ABC host, who played high school basketball and tennis, did offer this political aside, "I was born in 1960. I'm a product of Title Nine."
And as for Collins' attack on Nixon and the government not doing enough for after-school education, the then-President's veto of the Economic Opportunity Amendments of 1971 came with this explanation:
RICHARD NIXON: ...Given the limited resources of the Federal budget, and the growing demands upon the Federal taxpayer, the expenditure of two billions of dollars in a program whose effectiveness has yet to be demonstrated cannot be justified. And the prospect of costs which could eventually reach $20 billion annually is even more unreasonable.
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:41am EDT, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: And now, an important new book that’s getting rave reviews. It is called When Everything Changed: the Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present. And New York Times columnist Gail Collins combines the big dramatic moments in women's stories with fun details like the critical role of orange juice cans in beauty rituals. Gail, good to see you.
GAIL COLLINS: Good to be here.
ROBERTS: So, let’s- I can remember- I didn’t have them in my hair but remember the orange juice cans and the roll-ups.
COLLINS: This may have been the critical thing, I think.
ROBERTS: Explain the people who don’t know.
COLLINS: Concentrated orange juice cans. And Women would take the empty cans and roll their hair up in them to get a perfect kind of Mary Tyler Moore flip.
ROBERTS: A page boy flip?
COLLINS: And then they’d sleep on them all night. you would sleep all night on the orange juice cans. And I really feel that a generation that could sleep on orange juice cans could do anything and that's the entire story right there.
ROBERTS: Anything is possible to go through that. And we did. From 1960- And why did you choose 1960?
COLLINS: 1960 Is really exactly like- it's 50 years ago, really. And it's really very close to the way things were throughout recorded history kind of the way people looked at women and what they could do and what they couldn't do. And the reason I started writing this was the idea that in our lifetimes, these feelings about what women couldn't do, about the restrictions on the sex that had existed throughout all recorded history changed while we were alive in our little slice of time. I think that's just so neat. Knocks me out when I think about it.
ROBERTS: It does. And the book really reflects that and talking with the number of women that you did. And you also said, which I never thought about until I read your book, the sexual revolution was really helped women and explain why that was.
COLLINS: There were so many revolutions, that was the most popular by far, the sexual revolution.
COLLINS: And until then there, had been this double standard, forever, in which men could do whatever they wanted, sexually, but women were supposed to be chaste and virgins this will they got married. And if that was the rule then, really, it explained a lot about why women didn't think they were going to go to graduate school or go to business in a serious way. You were going to get married to protect your chastity and then you were going to have children and it really lapped off into everything else.
ROBERTS: You can't, of course, when you're talking about American women and the progress, you have to talk about- politically so. And we see such strong women now and it's nice that you reflect upon- like before Olympia Snowe there was- In Maine.
COLLINS: There was Margaret Chase Smith in Maine, just a very similar woman, very spunky,. She was the only woman in the Senate for most of the time she was there and she was on Armed Services and when they'd have long meetings somebody always had to come and take Margaret for a walk because the men felt that they should not be forced to sit too long with the discomfort of this woman there.
ROBERTS: Get out.
COLLINS: Yeah, I mean that's the way- she had to go to the bathroom in the women's visitor's bathroom, of course, because there's no bathroom. Stories about getting women's rooms in places is critical to the story.
ROBERTS: What is the biggest unresolved issue for women now do you think?
COLLINS: You know, it's got to be the fact that we've gotten all this way- that we've come to a point where all women now work as a matter of course in their lives, where 50 percent of the workforce is female. Where many, many houses women make more money than their husbands. And we still have not come near dealing with the question of who takes care of the kids if both parents are out working.
ROBERTS: And remind us, I didn't know this till I read your book about-
COLLINS: Congress passed a bipartisan bill giving quality early childhood education and after-school programs for any family that wanted them in the entire country.
ROBERTS: And it was-
COLLINS: Vetoed by Richard Nixon, yes.
ROBERTS: I don't think many people realized that.
COLLINS: I can forgive him for Watergate before that.
ROBERTS: Before that! [Laughs] Well, there’s not enough time. Gail, it is a fascinating read. I was born in 1960. I'm a product of Title Nine. Very appreciative of your work and those that have really made it possible.