Somehow, some way, you can catch a glimpse of the point John Hickenlooper meant to make with this response at last night’s CNN town hall. Unfortunately, Hickenlooper has trouble translating his deep thoughts into coherence, and this moment with Dana Bash provides just one manifestation of the problem:
Asked by Dana Bash if he would vow to put a woman on his presidential ticket, John Hickenlooper replied, “Of course,” and then said, “How come we’re not asking, more often, the women, ‘Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?’” #CNNTownHall pic.twitter.com/AC7hWtyZ7D
— CNN (@CNN) March 21, 2019
Hickenlooper’s deep thought here was presumably that we don’t nominate enough women to make that question more ubiquitous. That’s, um, not how it came across to a number of people who will vote on Hickenlooper’s qualities for the Democratic presidential nomination. It sounded like a silly mens’-rights riposte to those who are overly sensitive to muh patriarchy, and who weren’t shy about slamming Hickenlooper for it. For instance, here’s Bernie Sanders’ former press secretary with the slam dunk:
There has literally never been a ticket in either one of the major political parties without a man. LITERALLY NEVER. E V E R. That is why we aren’t asking the women about men on their ticket, Governor. Geesh. https://t.co/Xd18B5ySlR
— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) March 21, 2019
Eugene Scott has a few more responses at the Washington Post, along with his own criticism. When a Hickenlooper staffer confirmed that the Colorado governor was trying to emphasize the need to see women as contenders for the top spot, Scott responds by saying “the explanation just doesn’t hold up”:
Historically that may have been true. But several women are running for the Democratic Party’s nomination, and have received significant attention and coverage. Hillary Clinton was treated as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2008 and 2016, when she ultimately secured it. Hickenlooper’s explanation just doesn’t hold up.
And Hickenlooper, a centrist businessman, could have just as easily asked: “Why aren’t women asked if they will run another woman? America is ready for both of its top leaders to be women!”
Well, yeah, except for the inconvenient fact that Hickenlooper is a male running for the nomination himself. What did Scott want him to do — pledge to transition to female?
Scott’s correct that it wasn’t a very good answer, though. The correct answer would have been, “I want to pick the very best candidate as my running mate, and there’s no reason that candidate would not be a woman.” Even if Hickenlooper had said that, though, he’d still be in trouble for it. There is little charity among social-justice warriors, a point Hickenlooper should have learned by now. The lesson here is this: You’re not gonna win playing this game, so just avoid playing altogether. And the best way to have done that here was to stop at “Of course.”
And speaking of deep thoughts and Hickenlooper: to think I was nervous about taking my mom to see Bohemian Rhapsody. In what may be the ultimate in presidential-campaign disclosure — on a number of levels — Hickenlooper explained an anecdote from his memoir about the time he took his mother to see Deep Throat. And no, we’re not talking about Mark Felt here:
Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper says he took his mom to the movie theater to watch an X-rated pornographic movie pic.twitter.com/EejjCjAmzL
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) March 21, 2019
“I promised, I called a friend in Philadelphia — and … we didn’t know what an X-movie was. We thought it was a little naughty, but we didn’t think it was that bad,” Hickenlooper said. “You’ve gotta understand, I was 18 years old.”
He said he came home and his mother had cooked a huge dinner despite hating to cook. And he was so touched that he invited his mother to accompany him and his friend to see a movie.
“I said, ‘I promised Jed that we’d go to the movie theater and see this new movie, you want to come?’ And it’s an X-movie, and I was sure she wouldn’t say no. I made a mistake,” Hickenlooper said. “And she said, ‘I’d love to go’ because she didn’t want to be left alone in the house again. So I took my mother to see ‘Deep Throat.'”
He admitted his mother was “mortified” at the first scene, and so he told her they should leave, but she said no — she had paid for a ticket.
Where to start, where to start, where to start … Perhaps we should begin by explaining to the youngsters that at one time, you had to go to a theater to watch porn films rather than just break out the iPad. These theaters were not the kind with the recliners and SurroundSound systems, either. They generally had the kind of appearance that one would expect for venues that pandered to the connoisseurs of this kind of art, and the biggest fear was running into someone you knew while buying a ticket. Or catching a disease from proximity contact. Yeccch.
How could Hickenlooper have invited his mother along to see a film as notorious as Deep Throat? It’s true, as Hickenlooper says, that the X rating wasn’t as specific then as it shortly became afterward. The MPAA created it to allow filmmakers more room for sensuality and violence, and a number of legit films drew that rating. Midnight Cowboy won a Best Picture Oscar, the only X-rated film to do so. The MPAA eliminated the X rating a few years later, eventually creating the NC-17 rating to replace it.
That still doesn’t quite explain that question, though. I’m a few years younger than Hickenlooper and I can still recall knowing about the firestorm of controversy over the film. (I vividly remember a newspaper ad for the picture in the then-Santa Ana Register that used a drawing of an embarrassed giraffe that referenced a theater closure over its content. No, I’m not pulling your leg.) It received enough coverage for anyone to know its nature well before buying a ticket, including the fact that the title itself was a reference to a sexual act. That had to play into the decision made by two 18-year-olds to go see “this new movie.” It sounds like Hickenlooper tried to bluff his way out of an embarrassing situation and had the bluff called. If you were heading to the theater to see Deep Throat, you knew exactly what you were getting. If Hickenlooper wanted to take his mom to a movie, there were other options.
Also, as Duane Patterson pointed out on my show this afternoon, Deep Throat came out in June 1972 when Hickenlooper was almost 20, not 18. And by Thanksgiving of that year, its notoriety had far eclipsed any ambiguity over what kind of movie it was.
Hickenlooper tells the story in a charming manner, but really … what was that anecdote doing in the memoirs of a politician in the first place? He says that he wanted to give readers a warts-and-all picture of himself, but “warts” don’t have to include every rash you’ve ever had. This goes from transparency to TMI in record time.