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“First They Must Take A Stand”: Who Can Save The GOP From Trump? Women

Donald Trump is the kind of man women are taught to avoid.

He’s arrogant. He blusters about physical violence. Listening is not really his thing, because his mouth is usually running full steam. And, worst of all, he has a special loathing for women who are intelligent, accomplished and not deferential to him. When challenged on this, he veers to smarmy protestations that he loves women.

These are the attributes of a toxic male acquaintance, boss or leader (not to mention husband or boyfriend).

This is not to knock his current wife, Melania Trump. She is everything that Trump wants women to be: unquestioningly devoted, strikingly gorgeous and willing to have sex with him.

Unfortunately for Trump, women who do not share this profile comprise virtually the entire female electorate. And that, in turn, is a problem for the Republican Party. Women are 53 percent of all voters, and Trump has a 73 percent negative rating among those who are registered.

Two questions present themselves: How much damage is the GOP willing to let Trump do to the party’s image with women? And what can it do to stand up to him on this issue?

This week, there was a sign that Trump has reached the limit of tolerance within his party. A recent convert to the pro-life point of view, Trump made a gaffe that embarrassed the entire movement when he busted out the idea that women who have an abortion should be punished if the procedure is ever outlawed.

No, no, no, Donald. One doesn’t say such things in public. Uncharacteristically, he retracted his remarks. Even he sensed it was a blunder on the order of the musings on rape and pregnancy that sank Republican frontrunners in two 2012 Senate races.

Add that screed to The Donald’s on-going attacks on Megyn Kelly, the putdowns of Carly Fiorina and so many other women who have dared to displease him, and it is easy to imagine a cumulative effect that spells crushing defeat in the general election if he is the nominee.

So far, the men of the GOP have been subdued in their response. Note the vile scuffle between Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz over their wives. It wasn’t until Heidi Cruz was personally attacked that her husband reacted strongly and defended her, as he should.

One would imagine that at some point a cohort of leading Republican women would take a principled stand, calling out Trump for betraying the party’s supposed commitment to gender equality. But, alas, they’ve been eerily silent, apparently too fearful of crossing their party’s likely nominee.

Some, like Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, are in re-election campaigns and may fear losing support from Trump voters. (Comstock at least had the good sense to re-gift a $3,000 Trump donation to her campaign, buying a little bit of distance from him.) What a lost opportunity to stand up to sexism!

The Democrats will not waste the opportunity.

Recall the politically charged Senate judiciary hearings in 1991 to consider the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. The nomination was controversial from the start, owing to Thomas’ positions on a range of issues. But when testimony was reopened — and televised — after disclosure of Thomas’ alleged history of sexual harassment, things exploded.

The hearings turned to belittling questions and overt displays of sexism by the panel of male senators, as they grilled Anita Hill, Thomas’ accuser, about her allegations.

Women were outraged by what they witnessed. As a direct result, they became politically motivated to increase their numbers in the Senate. The following year, four women — all Democrats — were elected to the Senate, tripling female representation in the chamber.

Women in Congress remain overwhelmingly Democrats. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, the U.S. Congress is about 19 percent female. Of the 104 women, 76 are Democrats and only 28 are Republicans. Moreover, the women in Congress who have been given plum committee posts tend to be Democrats. In the U.S. Senate, there are only six Republican women, compared to 14 Democrats.

And although Republican women tend to fare well in state politics, their more moderate voices haven’t been able to make it through the increasingly conservative primary process to reach national office.

There couldn’t be a better time for women to demand a greater role — and be the voice of reason — in the GOP. They have a compelling pretext to halt a candidate who almost certainly will damage their party. And even if they cannot derail him on his path to the nomination, they may be able to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the election.

But first they must take a stand.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, April 1, 2016

April 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Women | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Stand-Up Guy?”: And Now Mitch McConnell Is The ‘Pro-Woman’ Candidate!

Facing a spirited challenge from a woman half his age who is determined to turn out female voters to defeat him, Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is portraying his role in resolving a sexual harassment scandal in the 1990s as evidence of his feminist bona fides. “I think I demonstrated 19 years ago, in the toughest possible position, how this ought to be handled,” he says, referring to his vote to oust Republican Bob Packwood from the U.S. Senate over allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

In a video distributed by the McConnell campaign, he explains, “I was chairman of the Ethics Committee charged with the responsibility of dealing with a member of my own party as chairman [of] the most important committee in the Senate. After investigating the case and bringing together all of the evidence I moved to expel him from the Senate. And the Senate on the verge of expelling him, he decided to resign.”

Most voters today barely remember Packwood, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It was a long time ago, back when Congress functioned, and bipartisanship was real. McConnell tells only part of the story, the part that’s favorable to him, where he looks like a stand-up guy for women. He leaves out the nearly three years he and his colleagues spent protecting Packwood, and his sparring with newly elected Senator Barbara Boxer, who wanted public hearings into Packwood’s behavior. He dismissed her efforts as “frolic and detour,” and warned if she didn’t back off, the GOP, which controlled the Senate, would retaliate with public hearings into any and all Democratic indiscretions.

Packwood chaired the Senate Finance Committee and as McConnell notes in the quote above, was one of the most powerful men on Capitol Hill. He had a reputation as a womanizer, which wasn’t uncommon for men of his generation in the Senate at the time. He was also having an affair with his chief of staff, who would later become his wife, and that wasn’t unusual either. “There were plenty of members having relationships with senior women, but they weren’t doing it with multiples of people all the time,” recalls a woman who held key staff jobs for several Republicans during this era and spoke to the Beast on condition of anonymity. “There were senators in the early 1990’s who fired women who wouldn’t have sex with them,” she said, “and because he (Packwood) knew other senators were doing these things, he couldn’t understand, ‘Why are they coming after me?’”

Sexual mores were changing. The all-male Judiciary Committee’s brutish grilling of Anita Hill over her accusation of sexual harassment against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas blew the lid off the frat-club behavior on Capitol Hill and helped elect a record number of women to Congress in 1992, including Boxer. Her push for public hearings on Packwood irritated her Democratic male colleagues along with the Republicans. The humiliation of the Hill-Thomas hearings was still too fresh for them.

Two weeks after the 1992 “year of the woman” election, The Washington Post published a front-page story documenting ten women who’d had unwelcome approaches from Packwood. A women’s group put up an 800 number, and 27 more women responded. Many had worked for him over the years; he had been in the senate since 1969. “Until the women’s groups turned on him, which they did after that article came out, he’d been a champion of women,” says the former GOP staffer. She recalls lawyers poring over definitions of sexual harassment, a relatively new term, educating members and staff about power relationships in the workplace.

“The concept of a hostile work environment was being discussed, it was a new thing,” she says.
The Republican leadership circled the wagons, wanting to believe partisanship played a role. Asked about McConnell’s threat to hold hearings about Democrats, even dredging up Senator Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick, Majority Leader Bob Dole said that wasn’t too long ago, “It was ’69, the same year as the first allegation against Packwood.”

A month before the Ethics Committee vote that McConnell boasts about today, he and Dole were publicly defending Packwood. “It’s hilarious to think these are his feminist bona fides,” says a Democratic Senate aide, who doesn’t want to be quoted by name so close to an election that could return McConnell to office for another six-year term, this time perhaps as majority leader. “It’s so long ago, he thinks he can get away with it,” says the aide. The legislative maneuvering once so vivid blurs with the passage of time, and all that McConnell wants voters to know is that he finally did the right thing after all else had been exhausted.

“For McConnell it actually was a vote of conscience against his party and against his friend,” says the GOP staffer. She remembers that minutes before the full Senate was scheduled to vote on whether to accept the Ethics Committee recommendation to expel Packwood, he resigned. Additional revelations about how he altered his diaries, which had been subpoenaed, plus an additional underage woman stepping forward made it likely that the senate would reach the necessary two-thirds majority.

McConnell is an institutionalist; he likes to keep things secret. He is described as having been “appalled” by Packwood’s behavior, but he dragged his feet so long on bringing this scandal to a close that the statute of limitations long ago ran out. “I’m not sure anybody gets credit for a vote that passes with a majority,” says Jennifer Duffy with the Cook Political Report. “Even if he was ahead of his time on this, I’m more interested in what he’s done since.”

The Kentucky Senate race is rated a toss-up, but most insiders think McConnell has it. “He’s not likeable; she’s likeable,” says Duffy. “But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about who do you trust, and they (voters) know he will go to the mat for them on coal. They have questions about her.”

Refusing to say who she voted for in 2008 and 2012 has hurt Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. The coming days will test whether her campaign has the smarts to counter McConnell’s dubious claim that a single vote in September 1995 should inoculate him from all the anti-woman votes he’s taken since then.

 

By: Eleanor Cliff, The Daily Beast, October 20, 2014

October 22, 2014 Posted by | Mitch Mc Connell, Sexual Asault, War On Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“America’s Sweetheart, Ginni Thomas”: Did A Justice’s Wife Leak Supreme Court Drama?

NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg spoke to Bloomberg Law yesterday about the Supreme Court’s recent healthcare reform decision and the subsequent series of stories on the deliberations based on leaks to reporters from court insiders. She made this interesting observation:

“[The leaks] had the earmarks of somebody — somebody or two bodies — who are very angry. Now that’s not necessarily a justice. Could be a justice, could be a law clerk, could be a spouse of a justice.”

Totenberg goes on to say that of course she never tries to learn the identities of other reporters’ sources, but that’s still an interesting bit of … fairly specific speculation, there.

Of course, there is only one “spouse of a justice” that anyone has ever heard of, and it’s America’s Sweetheart, Ginni Thomas.

We already know her husband, Clarence Thomas, is an extraordinarily angry and bitter person, thanks to his memoir, “I Am Still an Incredibly Angry and Bitter Person on Account of That Time Anita Hill Told the Complete Truth About Me.” (And Clarence Thomas is apparently buddies with CBS’s Jan Crawford.) And Ginni made a living, for years, touring the nation telling everyone how awful and unconstitutional healthcare reform was, which means she was probably pretty upset when her husband told her John Roberts voted to kill liberty forever. She’s also known for having really poor impulse control, if her still-hilarious early Saturday morning voice mail for Anita Hill is any indication. So let’s all just assume she’s leaking everything, because she and her husband are so mad and crazy.

(Though Ginni Thomas is still doing video interviews in which she inexplicably doesn’t actually appear for Tucker Carlson’s “The Daily Carlson,” so why didn’t she leak to one of the Caller’s many fine reporters, like Mickey Kaus or the guy who says a black person probably stole his bike? She is an enigma!)

 

By: Alex Pareene, Salon, July 12

 

July 13, 2012 Posted by | U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Legacy Of The Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill Hearings

Even now, with the healing distance of two decades, the subject of Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas retains its power to provoke and divide.

It was 20 years ago this month that Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment surfaced, threatening to derail Thomas’s imminent confirmation to the Supreme Court. I spent the weekend-long marathon of hearings in the Senate Caucus Room, the majestic setting of soaring marble columns and gilded ceiling contrasting with the squalid details of Hill’s allegations.

 It was both riveting and horrifying. By the time the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings were gaveled to a close at 2 a.m. Monday, I — like everyone else — was simply relieved that it was over.

Looking back, it is possible to trace the larger cultural and political legacy, both good and bad, of that painful moment.

First, the Thomas-Hill hearings heralded a coarsening of the national dialogue. It goes too far to suggest cause and effect; there is no straight line between the hearings and, say, wardrobe malfunctions or “Jersey Shore.” But the hearings, with their nationally televised discussion of Thomas’s alleged tastes in pornography and his explicit overtures, crossed an invisible line into a cruder culture.

A few years earlier, I had covered a trial involving a sexual act that the existing stylebook would let me describe, rather misleadingly, only as “sodomy.” A few years later, the nation found itself in a graphic discussion about the precise meaning of “sexual relations” and the DNA evidence on Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress.

The intervening experience of the Thomas-Hill hearings, with the discussion of Thomas’s alleged interest in “Long Dong Silver” and commentary about pubic hair on a Coke can, helped define deviancy downward. As we sat at the press table during the most explicit testimony, the New York Times reporter turned to me, a stricken look on his face, and asked how we were going to write about all this, given our newspapers’ notorious queasiness about sexual matters. In the end, our stories were unexpurgated.

Second, the hearings heralded — although again they did not create — an intensifying of the partisan divide. The 1987 fight over the failed nomination of Robert Bork was intense but nowhere near as personal or partisan.

As with the Clinton impeachment several years later, the Thomas nomination witnessed each side automatically lining up in support of, or in opposition to, the protagonist. Senators who wanted to see Thomas on the high court credited his version of events; those who wanted him defeated for other reasons chose to believe Hill. The facts themselves took second place to political interests.

Indeed, the very women’s groups most exercised about Thomas’s alleged misconduct were notably, shamefully silent when it came to Clinton’s behavior with a White House intern and his false statements under oath.

In hindsight, the Thomas confirmation seems almost quaint, with the Senate’s majority vote in favor of the nominee. The possibility of a filibuster was bargained away early on. Today, an option that once seemed nuclear has become the norm.

The third legacy of the Thomas hearings is a positive one: lower tolerance for sexual harassment and greater political prominence for women. Back then, an all-male Senate Judiciary Committee was inclined to ignore the Hill allegations. That would not happen today, with two women on the panel, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Two women served in the Senate in 1991; there are 17 today.

As to sexual harassment, of course such behavior still occurs and some women still endure it, rather than speak out. But Hill’s reluctant testimony educated and chastened many men, and it emboldened many women. The workplace of 2011 may not be perfect, but it is a better, fairer place.

For me, the final legacy of the hearings is entirely personal: It’s how I met my husband, who worked on the committee staff for a Democratic senator. Late on the weekend that the Hill story leaked, as I was scrambling to confirm it, he returned my phone call, explaining that he had been away at his grandmother’s 90th birthday party.

Who, he asked, was Anita Hill? He seemed like a nice guy, so with uncharacteristic patience, I brought him up to speed, instead of following my instinct to pronounce him useless and hang up. It was only months later — after we started dating — that I discovered he was feigning ignorance out of professional caution.

Twenty years and two beautiful children later, I still believe Anita Hill. But I owe an odd, unpayable debt to Justice Thomas.

 

By: Ruth Marcus, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, October 4, 2011

October 7, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Democracy, Equal Rights, GOP, Ideologues, Politics, Press, Republicans, Supreme Court | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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