• Republican Women. In 1970, Senator Roman Hruska (R, Neb) spoke in defense of G. Harrold Carswell, Richard Nixon’s cynical and mercifully unsuccessful appointment to the Supreme Court: "Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.” His words came to mind Tuesday evening as Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ stunningly retrograde response to the State of the Union transported me back to the 1950s, when women’s roles in the [H]ouse were more clearly defined, and they appeared on TV to support their husbands and sell soap suds and refrigerators. The pollsters must know more than I do, but if Rodgers’ cliché-ridden, substance-free chat represents the Republican ideal of female leadership, the party really is in trouble. • Land of Opportunity. Both parties seek to embrace the issue of income inequality, which is greater now than any time since 1929. Republicans blame government for stifling opportunities for the ambitious; Democrats blame corporate greed, obscene bonuses and repressive taxation. But recent studies question whether economic mobility was ever more than an anecdotal reality in modern America, and a report this week by 24/7 Wall Street ranked America 19th in providing opportunities for our children. Those providing the most were countries in what Donald Rumsfeld dismissively labeled “the old Europe” – those places, our history books insist, from which people fled in search of a better life in America.