Red Dawn: Governor’s Adviser Fired For Calling First Ladies “Window Dressing”

A former adviser to Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons has been fired for insulting first ladies everywhere in an off-the-cuff statement about how Governor Gibbons’ divorce is not a major issue because first ladies like Dawn Gibbons are merely “window dressing.”

Olmer was responding to inquiries about Gibbons’ divorce from his former wife Dawn. Olmer downplayed the significance by explaining “Any first lady is to a large extent window dressing, just showing up for public events.” He was then fired a couple days later by Gibbons for being sexist and inappropriate.

Is it really sexist to downplay the role of first spouses? Margaret Thatcher’s husband was often dismissed as the guy who walked her into places. It is certainly true that most first ladies are more than that. They often played important roles in some areas — though such roles have always been controversial given their unelected status. In the case of Dawn Gibbons, she had some very commendable issues such as methamphetamine abuse and funding autism treatment. She also co-chaired Nevada’s Organ and Tissue Donation Task Force. As a former assemblywoman, she was no window dressing.

The question is whether such a statement deserves termination. A reprimand is clearly warranted in my view. It does diminish the role of first spouses, but was it sexist or just thoughtless?

For the full story, click here.

9 thoughts on “Red Dawn: Governor’s Adviser Fired For Calling First Ladies “Window Dressing””

  1. “Any first lady is to a large extent window dressing, just showing up for public events.”

    Perhaps, but many first ladies can make or break that window.

    Window makers … Abagail Adams, Dolly Madison(1st First Lady), Julia Gardiner Tyler (Hail to the Chief), Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy

    Window Breakers … Rachel Jackson, Margaret Taylor, Mary Todd Lincoln, Edith Wilson(Mrs. President)

    I vote sexist based on the first part of his comment, “Any first lady ….”. Mr. Jim Gibbons needs to check his cuffs for fraying.

  2. I think a point missed in the article was that the aide was implying–with his comment–that the breakup of the governor’s marriage was no big deal since Gibbons’s wife was only “window dressing”–and not all that important to his political life. So a politician’s marriage partner doesn’t count for much if she doesn’t get too involved in the politican’s work? I’d call that a form of marriage-ism.

    Was Olmer being sexist? IMHO: probably. Husbands/men are rarely–if ever–referred to as window dressing. Should Olmer have been fired? Politicians and people working for them have done a lot worse things, for sure. I think the governor fired Olmer so he could kill the story and cut his losses.

  3. I’m from Arizona orginally, and we’ve had our share of female Governors. While Napolitano and Mofford were not married, Governor Hull certainly was. And her husband, a successful physician himself, would have probably agreed with the statement about window dressing. While he atteneded events and likely had a pet issue or two of his own, he did not participate in the budget process, cabinet meetings, did not address the legislature concerning the state of the state, and did not recieve a salary. Maybe not window dressing, but certainly the first “x” position is not *that* important.

    Was it a total goof-up? Absolutely. Was he being sexist? Not from my point of view. Should he have been fired? No. Another political “fix-it-now” overreaction. Will he be glad he was fired? YES…have you seen Gibbon’s approval ratings? Eeek!

  4. The electoral process runs on agreed upon hypocrisiea. That is why there are many elected officials who are privately atheists, gay or serial adulters, etc., but will claim “normalcy” and “piety” in their life and values. Everyone, including sadly the public, plays along with these hypocrisies as long as they are not exposed like “the emperor’s new clothes.” When that happens heads roll as the professed social norms must somehow be returned to. This man deserved firing for his stupidity in saying what is usually left unsaid. We do not reward non-conformity of public thought in this Country or in most others.

  5. Window dressing,indeed.This is going to be the test for future first ladys to prove their mettle.:)

  6. This is a major gaffe for this aide. I think if he even said that for the most part first women or men are more Figureheads than anything else. Some people would have found exceptions. What would have been better stated that the divorce was a major loss to the Governor and state of Nevada and that she is wished well in wherever life may take her. Then played the GOP family values and the stress that being Governor takes on a family and that it is understood that not all relationships can withstand this type of scrutiny as Divorce is hard on everyone and a number of dynamics have changed.

    Professor,

    I read the article and something is missing out of your synopsis.

    Yours goes as this:

    In the case of Dawn Gibbons, she had some very commendable issues such as methamphetamine abuse and funding autism treatment.

    I think it makes her sound like a speed freak.

    How about this:

    In the case of Dawn Gibbons, she had some very commendable initiatives as first lady and one was people addicted to methamphetamine abuse and funding autism treatment as well as many more noble causes.

    Just a suggestion.

  7. maverratick 1, January 8, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Well let’s review what makes things offensive vs politically correct:

    1. Who someone is.
    2. What you’re calling them.
    3. Who YOU are.

    Everyone seems to get 1 and 2, but 3 and 4 fly over people’s heads.

    This Threads for you.

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