The aides who malign Klobuchar do not say whether her Ms. Hyde persona is so bad that it disqualifies her morally, or on grounds of prudence. Put another way: do we need to know about Klobuchar at her worst because we need to know that she is a bad person, or because she really cannot control herself and will make catastrophic errors that an even icier temperament would avoid? The Kavanaugh exchange, an example of Klobuchar under public stress, suggests not ungovernable rage but a form of duplicity—a steely self-control that my colleague Caitlin Flanagan identifies (with typical perceptiveness) as a telltale trait of the child of an alcoholic. Duplicity of this sort is not a political vice, even if it is a personal one. It is a political virtue.
The anonymous aggrieved aides claim that their grievances have nothing to do with Klobuchar’s sex. Men who throw binders should also come to a reckoning. (Men who make binders certainly do.) But even if these aides are as gender-blind as they claim, of course not everyone will be. Klobuchar seems to have failed to meet basic standards of decency, applicable to either gender. But there are still other standards to which she is held, namely those of a featureless and agreeable Midwestern mom. Men may or may not be expected to be decent in their private life, but to be agreeable (again, see LBJ, Biden, and so many others) is a standard foreign to our sex.