Pro tip from retiring Dem: Ernst just a "really attractive" woman but not worth a vote

Remember when Kirsten Gillibrand’s recollection of patronizing comments from Senate colleagues about her appearance went nuclear in the media and on the Left? The media demanded to know who the cads were, and so did a few skeptics. Gillibrand refused to specify names, although the New York Times spent a month on the story and deduced that at least one culprit was the late Daniel Inouye (D-HI), although by Gillibrand’s own recollections, there was more than one culprit involved.

Maybe we’ve found another suspect in the Gillibrand case in Iowa. Retiring Senator Tom Harkin has hit the stump hard for Democratic nominee Bruce Braley, and in a speech last week dismissed Republican nominee Joni Ernst as a “really attractive” woman who “sounds nice,” but that’s all:

Retiring Democratic Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin says that Iowa voters shouldn’t be fooled because Joni Ernst is “really attractive” and “sounds nice.”

“In this Senate race, I’ve been watching some of these ads,” Harkin said at the Story County Democrats’ annual fall barbecue last week honoring the retiring senator. “And there’s sort of this sense that, ‘Well, I hear so much about Joni Ernst. She is really attractive, and she sounds nice.’”

“Well I gotta to thinking about that. I don’t care if she’s as good looking as Taylor Swift or as nice as Mr. Rogers, but if she votes like Michele Bachmann, she’s wrong for the state of Iowa.”

It’s worth pointing out that Ernst is hardly some unknown face on the ballot. She has served in the Iowa state Senate since 2011, and was Montgomery County Auditor for two terms prior to special-election win in the state Senate. Before her political career, Ernst served 21 years in the US Army and Iowa National Guard, including a 14-month tour in Iraq and Kuwait in 2003-4. She’s just a wee bit more than an attractive woman with a nice voice.

Buzzfeed has the video at the link above, but it’s also included in this clip from today’s Morning Joe. Even Mika Brzezinski wondered what the level of freak-out would be if a Republican made these kinds of comments about a Democratic female candidate:

“As we all know,” writes Katie Pavlich, “if a Republican had described a Democrat woman in this way, all hell would break lose and every conservative running for Senate would be held accountable for the statement and expected to issue a condemnation.” Everyone on this panel agrees, and think this will backfire big time on Democrats. One has to wonder whether the media, which gave lots of attention to Gillibrand’s complaints, will cover this overt display of chauvinism from a Senate Democrat just two months after making sexism a cause celebre in DC.

One more thought, too: How difficult does this make it for Hillary Clinton to run on the same grievance in Iowa for the 2016 campaign? Every time she uses the “war on women” strategy to fuel her campaign, will the media there replay Harkin’s attack on Ernst to ask which party has the real problem?

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