I’m used to this by now but I can’t tell you how dispiriting I find it knowing that we’re in for four or even eight years of it under President Hillary, to whom all resistance will inevitably be dismissed as vestiges of sexism. (Hillary herself has already begun to feed that beast.) In fact, I think this sort of demagoguery will happen much more frequently under Clinton than it has under Obama. There’s more to be gained from it politically: Electoral returns from racism charges are marginal because Democrats already win 90+ percent of the black vote, but women’s votes are hotly contested. The gender gap has been crucial to Democratic gains over the past eight years; they have every incentive to cry sexism early and often in the interest of making that gap wider. Also, call me naive but I think there are some — some — Dems who recognize how grave the charge of racism is and tend to shy away from it. Inveterate race-baiters like Jim Clyburn, who can find a Reconstruction analogy in the Benghazi hearings, aren’t deterred, but not all Democrats are as quick to take the gloves off. I think they’ll be quicker on the charge of sexism, simply because it doesn’t carry quite the same stigma as an accusation of racism does. (Whether it should is a separate question.) Prepare for lots, lots more of this in years to come.
Two noteworthy details here. One: Rockefeller couldn’t be more casual in lobbing his grenade. He’s not out at a fundraiser with a drink in his hand, mindlessly babbling to some reporter with his guard down. He’s at an actual Senate hearing with a Republican senator sitting right in front of him, and yet it’s bombs away — and not for the first time. Congressional rules of decorum forbid swearing and personal insults, but if you want to charge the other side with racism for questioning Obama’s pet boondoggle, fire away. Two: Unlike most instances where this accusation is made, the target was present and eager to respond. Watch the very beginning and then the last few minutes of the second clip to see Johnson hit back. I would have walked out if I were him, but admittedly, his approach is smarter.