It hasn’t been this bad in – forever, actually. The slamming of women in Washington has never been as bad as it has in the past week.
At the height of the McCarthy era, when the House Unamerican Activities Committee was jailing some people and blacklisting dozens of others in direct violation of their freedom of speech, a woman who was the Senator from Maine, Margaret Chase Smith, stood up on the floor of the Senate and gave Senator McCarthy a nanny-scolding, a withering dressing down.
And no one invoked Rule 19, enacted in 1801.
In 1986, when Coretta Scott King wrote her letter denouncing Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, it was presented to the Senate by Senator Ted Kennedy, who said Sessions would be a “disgrace to the Justice Department” if appointed a Federal Judge. And no one invoked Rule 19.
But in 2017, when Senator Elizabeth Warren tried to read Coretta King’s letter and Sen. Ted Kennedy’s letter, both of which had been read into the Senate record before, she was silenced. Silenced by Rule 19.
Yet, two other Senators, both male, were able to read lengthy parts of Coretta King’s letter to the Senate on the same day. And they were not silenced.
And just two days later, the House Ethics Committee, which has refused to investigate President Trump for obvious violations of the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution, or for repeatedly lying, swiftly decided to investigate Kellyanne Conway for urging people to buy Ivanka Trump’s line of clothes in a CNN interview.
Kellyanne Conway is one of the most annoying political commentators on television, and rightly notorious for coining the phrase ‘alternative facts.’ Personally, I find her taste in clothes pretty dreadful, so any recommendation by her would not send me running to Online Shopping.
What has, until now, interested me the most about Conway is how, in a few months time, she has gone from a buoyant and smiling campaign manager to a rapidly aging, wrinkling, sour-pussed woman at the White House.
But now she has become another example of blatant Republican misogyny. She is another woman about to be silenced. Yesterday’s ‘counseling’ (Sean Spicer’s word) has become today’s official investigation. She, and presumably Ivanka Trump, will be pushed out of the power circle around the President. But white nationalist, blatant misogynist, racist, Islamophobe Steve Bannon, will remain.
Really?? These two women are such threats to decorum and rectitude in Washington that they must be silenced? While the slime and sleaze and raw power plays of international significance that their male counterparts are doing every day are given a pass?
Senator Warren, keep shouting out the truth. That Attorney General Sessions is indeed a disgrace to his office, even before he begins. He is a disgrace because the NAACP considers his appointment a disaster. And in a country whose history of racial bigotry still shocks the world, to blow by the opinion of the NAACP and appoint this southern white guy with an antebellum mind, is appalling.
Women of the US Senate, stand together, and find a way to raise this issue: that it is never, ever appropriate to silence a woman, especially when she is decrying injustice. Or even when her level of social interest extends no further than new clothes.
Senator McConnell, shame! No harm, no foul would have occurred by listening to the objections you were determined to ignore. But insult and disgrace have been heaped upon the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., a national hero, by your refusal to honor her words with your attention.
Redeem yourself, Sen McConnell, by eliminating Rule 19. Give Senator Warren, and the rest of the women in DC, a fighting chance.
Image: Book Cover, Senator Elizabeth Warren. Wikipedia.com.