The GOP’s new War on Women backfires, elevates Elizabeth Warren
Amanda Marcotte at Salon sums it up nicely: the GOP has launched a new war on women.
Perhaps Sen. Mitch McConnell should have skipped his quadrennial all-day post-inauguration nap. Being awake for the Women’s March and witnessing all the rage and energy of millions of feminists might have woken him up to what kind of bee’s nest awaited him on Tuesday night, when he tried to stop one woman, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, from quoting another woman, Coretta Scott King, during the debate over Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination for attorney general.
Warren tried to read a letter that the now-deceased King wrote in 1986, accusing Sessions (correctly) of using “the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.” McConnell invoked an arcane rule forbidding senators from insulting one another during debate as a pretext to banish Warren, who then read the letter aloud on Facebook Live, leading to millions more watching her than would have been the case if she had simply read the letter on the Senate floor.
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” McConnell complained during debate, fully embodying the feminist caricature of a fussy man displeased by uppity females, and thereby spawning hundreds of T-shirts and Twitter memes literally overnight. Warren herself took full advantage of the opportunity, hitting social media and cable news hard to highlight what happened.
McConnell’s behavior would have been noteworthy at any time, but the amount of negative attention he’s receiving is compounded by the widespread suspicion within feminist circles that the election of pussy-grabber-in -chief Donald Trump is ushering in a new era of misogyny.
“We’re going be blown backward so far that this irredeemably shitty year may someday look like a lost feminist golden age,” Michelle Goldberg of Slate wrote at the end of 2016. “The massive power of the American state is about to be marshaled to put women in their place.”
McConnell’s tantrum is just the latest incident in a long line of incidents suggesting that conservatives are feeling more empowered to be overt and blunt with their sexism, as Dan Merica of CNN witnessed in December:
And that tantrum backfired badly on McConnell.
Hillary Clinton and other Democrats on Wednesday flocked to support U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren for voicing criticism of President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general even after being silenced by Republicans on the Senate floor.
McConnell’s quote “nevertheless she persisted,” went viral online among Warren supporters.
While Warren was stopped before she finished reading the letter, others, including rising Democratic star Senator Kamala Harris of California took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to read it.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reminded reporters that the late Senator Ted Kennedy called Sessions disgraceful in 1986 but he was not rebuked.
“I guess if a man says it you don’t get the words taken from you,” Pelosi said in Baltimore.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said silencing speech is “not what America is about.”
Here’s a hint: never try to shut a woman up when it will give her the spotlight, Senator He-Man Woman-Hater.
Warren, who is viewed as a top-tier 2020 presidential candidate, is usually very selective about her media interviews and generally does not engage with reporters in the Senate hallways. But on Wednesday, she went on a media blitz, which included interviews with CNN, MSNBC, ABC’s “The View” and The Hill.
“The rules are designed so that we can have tough debates about difficult issues without impugning one another’s motives,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “I promise you, if the Senate becomes a place where people routinely insult one another, Americans aren’t going to be happy.”
The Daily 202, a political blog published by The Washington Post, wrote that McConnell had given Warren’s possible 2020 presidential campaign “an in-kind contribution.”
Was it a Machiavellian move by McConnell to elevate Warren as a potential 2020 presidential candidate? It sounds far-fetched:
“God bless him,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), one of the Senate’s most liberal members. “May he elevate the progressive wing because I think it’s resonating powerfully with Americans.”
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), another progressive, thinks the explanation for McConnell’s disciplining of Warren is relatively simple.
“Elizabeth Warren gets the Republicans’ blood boiling. She’s hard-hitting and speaks her mind,” he said.
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