It’s been a while since we’ve given out a Captain Louis Renault award, but we have a classic winner today. Dee Dee Myers professes shock and indignation at the manhandling of a Hillary Clinton cardboard cutout at a party by a speechwriter for Barack Obama. She huffs and puffs about “humiliation”, “disempowerment”, “denigration”, and all the while never mentions her years on the staff of a certain president who used an intern for his sexual release (via Q&O):
What’s bugging me is his intention. He isn’t putting his hand on her “chest,” as most of the articles and conversations about the picture have euphemistically referred to it. Rather, his hand—cupped just so—is clearly intended to signal that he’s groping her breast. And why? Surely, not to signal he finds her attractive. Au contraire. It’s an act of deliberate humiliation. Of disempowerment. Of denigration.
And it disgusts me.
Oh, I know: If Hillary can get over it, why can’t I? Her spokesman, Phillipe Reinnes, tried to make light of the incident. “Senator Clinton is pleased to learn of Jon’s obvious interest in the State Department, and is currently reviewing his application,” he told the Washington Post in an E-mail. Obviously, she has no interest in making a federal case out of this particular incident, particularly as both the Clinton and Obama camps work on letting bygones be bygones. She has to pick her battles, and for her this ain’t a hill worth dying on.
But there is a larger issue at stake. At what point does sexist behavior get taken seriously? At what point do people get punished in ways that suggest this kind of behavior, this kind of thinking, is unacceptable? At what point do we insist there will be consequences? Clearly, that didn’t happen during the recent presidential campaign, when Hillary was—as I guess she is now—fair game. The press, the pundits, and the public could say things about her (“She’s a shrew!”) and to her (“Iron my shirt!) that were over-the-top sexist—yet got almost no reaction.
At what point does sexist behavior get taken seriously? At about the point when the Ds change to Rs, which Myers concedes later in the piece. But seriously, is Myers kidding? For which administration did she work, anyway? Bill Clinton had a long track record of sexual peccadilloes that ended with a stain on a blue dress belonging to a White House intern, a perjury charge, impeachment, and disbarment.
The level of outrage seems highly overblown by Myers and the rest of Favreau’s critics. Here’s the pic again:
Not a commendable moment, perhaps, but it’s a joke. Really, have we become such pantywaists that we can’t tell the difference between a joke and “denigration”, “disempowerment”, and “humiliation”? I’d suggest that one bright line would be whether a live person was being fondled or a cardboard cutout. The latter doesn’t humiliate anything but the inanimate object, while the former happened with Myers’ co-workers without her getting this exercised over it. Hillary gave it exactly the right response, but Myers enjoys her sanctimonious outrage too much to see that.
For Myers’ disgust, I’ll grant her the Captain Louis Renault Award, with a special Irony Cluster for her article’s appearance on the pages of Vanity Fair with Kate Winslet’s naked butt and another pic of four women lying in a tableau that looks like a modern-day harem.
Update: Stacy McCain has more thoughts.
Update II: Forgot the link; added it in now.
Update III: My friend Right Wing Sparkle doesn’t entirely agree with me, but makes this absolutely dead-on point:
It is also ironic that Myers would write this for a magazine, Vanity Fair, whose cover has Tina Fey, dressed in a skimpy outfit with an American flag flying behind her, with the caption “A New American Sweetheart.” Right. I suppose they feel we owe a debt of gratitude to Tina Fey for saving us from Sarah Palin. I suppose they use that as a way to justify the fact that Tina Fey portrayed a Governor and an intelligent, accomplished woman like Palin, as a bumbling beauty queen hick. They don’t even see how they are a part of the reason women are denigrated and disrespected.
Democrats like Myers and the writers and editors of Vanity Fair are swimming in a sea of hypocrisy.