Revealed: The time Amy Klobuchar ate a salad with a comb and made an aide clean it

A Twitter pal reading this asks a good question. Did she make him clean the comb before she started eating or only afterward? Because, gross.

Senator Amy Klobuchar was hungry, forkless and losing patience.

An aide, joining her on a trip to South Carolina in 2008, had procured a salad for his boss while hauling their bags through an airport terminal. But once onboard, he delivered the grim news: He had fumbled the plastic eating utensils before reaching the gate, and the crew did not have any forks on such a short flight.

What happened next was typical: Ms. Klobuchar berated her aide instantly for the slip-up. What happened after that was not: She pulled a comb from her bag and began eating the salad with it, according to four people familiar with the episode.

Then she handed the comb to her staff member with a directive: Clean it.


Hopefully a napkin was okay and he didn’t have to clean it with his mouth or something. There’s no telling how far a boss might go once he or she gets a taste for demeaning the help as pure sport.

This NYT piece is at least the fourth splashy expose of Klobuchar’s weird office behavior. HuffPost has done two and BuzzFeed has done one. Common themes:

1. Objections run the gamut from Klobuchar whining too often about how little she thought of her staff’s work to more ominous reports of her throwing things and insisting that they do chores, like washing dishes.

2. Not all of her former staffers say she’s a monster. Some back up her claims that she’s “demanding” but not overly abusive, even apologetic when she says something insulting.

3. Others are adamant that she’s not so much demanding as “dehumanizing.” And they insist they’re not grading her on a curve because she’s a woman. Klobuchar’s not domineering by “female standards” or whatever. She’s domineering. A noteworthy sentence: “Saving potentially damaging emails from Ms. Klobuchar became something of a last-day ritual, the aides said, in case they ever needed evidence of her conduct for their own reputational protection.” You’re probably past the “bossy” stage if your underlings are treating communications from you as potential evidence.

Basically, experiences with her vary, although they don’t seem to vary beyond the parameters of “not quite as bad as everyone says” and “even worse than you’ve heard.” Is that apt to be a liability for her in the primary? Nah, I doubt it, at least not unless and until we find out that she physically abused someone or went ever further than the comb episode in gratuitously humiliating an aide. This might raise a few eyebrows, though:


Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez decided recently that her calls for better wages for Americans needed to start in her own office so she set a new policy in which no staffer who works for her will be paid less than $52,000 annually. If that starts a trend among 2020 contenders — and AOC is very much a trendsetter among presidential wannabes — it might get progressives to start paying closer attention to how Klobuchar treats her own employees. Throwing binders might not disqualify her in their eyes, but cheaping out on parental leave could be a knottier problem.

I’ve made this point myself in a separate post but it’s worth amplifying Olivia Nuzzi’s tweet here:

Correct. If there’s a sexist double standard at work in the stories of Klobuchar abusing her staff, it’s a double standard that works in her favor. A story about a male senator erupting in rage to the point where he started throwing things would be treated as reason to believe he needs psychiatric treatment, not some vaguely charming vignette about how “Senator K doesn’t take sh*t from anyone!” The comb story is a nice illustration. As told, it’s more amusing than sinister: Lookit the “nice” unpretentious lady from Minnesota going full diva with her aides. Imagine it with Ted Cruz, though, and it’s suddenly new evidence to progressives that he’s a Major Ass**** on a power trip and should probably be evaluated by someone for it. Klobuchar’s getting a pass here because she’s a woman.


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John Sexton 8:40 PM on September 21, 2023