I am sure it wasn't easy to find one. After all, how many black candidates for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission are against all three: busing for school integration, equal rights for women and civil rights for homosexuals?
In their joy at discovering the very existence of a real, live B. Sam Hart, it's easy to see why the Reaganites didn't count up his added extras. It turned out that the reverend from Philadelphia had owned a broadcast company that was declared in default on a Small Business Administration loan, and that a religious radio station he owned owed $4,400 in taxes. He also hadn't voted since the early 1960s and only registered as a Republican last November.
In the end, after a flash of well-deserved humility, Hart asked the White House to withdraw his nomination. Soon this Affair of the Hart will be nothing more than a paragraph in an obscure political textbook on How Not to Make Appointments.
But the whole thing managed to alienate whatever support for Reagan remains in the black community while contributing further to what is being genteelly and universally called Reagan's "Woman Problem."
What is less well known about this scenario is that the Reaganites had dismissed Seattle's Jill Ruckelshaus from the Civil Rights Commission in order to find their Hart's content. And Ruckelshaus, a former special assistant to President Ford, is one of that small breed of moderate, and often frustrated, women's rights advocates still loyal to the Republican Party.
Ironically, it is known that a member of the national committee of the same Republican Party that dumped her had been out to Seattle a few weeks earlier trying to convince Ruckelshaus to make a try for Scoop Jackson's Senate seat.
All this is additional proof that the Republican Party treats its women with all the sensitivity of a graduate of Army Tact School.
At our meeting here, Ruckelshaus practically turned the other cheek. She was nothing if not circumspect about criticizing her party. "Republican women are patient," she said rather philosophically. "We go through periods of damage containment. Time is on our side."
But the real damage may be to the Republican Party.
For the past year and a half there have been reports from the front lines of sexual politics of an emerging gender gap. Far fewer women than men voted for Reagan back in 1980. Today, they are eight to 10 points less likely than men to approve of how Reagan is handling the job.
This attitude appears to be rubbing off on the whole party. We are not into a two-sex system yet, but last September men called themselves Republicans by a 46-to-42 margin, while women called themselves Democrats by a 53-to-35 margin. By November, the reality of a female Democratic vote was felt, especially in the governor's race in Virginia.
There are a lot of theories around to explain the reasons for the gender gap. Within days I heard it attributed to: 1) The Peace Issue 2) The Women's Rights Issue 3)The Fairness Issue.
4 Some people talk about the lack of women appointees, others about the cuts in social programs, the "macho style," the defense budget, the "nuke" talk. Again and again, they wonder whether women aren't alienated particularly by what they call a lack of compassion.
There is, in fact, very little hard data yet to explain the gap, but no doubt that it exists.
The Republican Party is worried about the effect of this in the fall elections. Nancy Sinnott, who runs the National Republican Congressional Committee, has funded a national study to find out whether the Republicans "are measuring a significant drop (in support by women) because of Reagan, or is something else going on?" The study will help Republican candidates decide just how closely they want to be identified with the president.
In the academic world, Ruth Mandell, director of the Center for the American Woman and Politics at Rutgers, has been thinking about this same question as figures of various studies trickle in. "I would not be willing to say whether you will have Republican women abandoning the party," she says cautiously, "but many women who haven't made a commitment to either party are making negative judgments on the Republican Party."
Looking at the shambles of this Civil Rights Commission flap, even Kathy Wilson, chair of the National Women's Political Caucus, makes just such a negative judgment of her own party: "They are shooting themselves in the foot."