Usually I like reading the Citizen Cohn blog on The New Republic — well, I like it when Jonathan Cohn’s writing. But today: a piece of absolute drivel from Ed Kilgore, writing about a Jerry Brown aide calling Meg Whitman a whore.
The “whore” controversy, stupid as it may seem, represents a whole host of semi-subliminal issues. The subtext of the Brown staffer’s slur was Whitman’s decision to exempt police officers from one of her few specific proposals for reducing debt and spending, the elimination of defined benefit pensions for public employees. If she did that to secure a key endorsement, that’s worth knowing. The claim also undercuts another key Whitman talking point, her effort to make her unprecedented personal spending on her campaign a badge of her independence from interest groups, in sharp contrast to the union-dependent Brown. On her own part, the Republican candidate is frantically trying to turn this into a gender issue, for the very good reason that she’s a pro-choice woman fighting a pro-Democratic gender gap. She’s certainly not the first female candidate to seek to benefit from perceptions of puerile or insensitive indicators of chauvinism by a male opponent.
I don’t even know where to start. First of all, I’m not aware of any indication that Whitman has tried to make this a gender issue; she made a statement lamenting the use of “slurs and personal attacks” in politics. Secondly, I’m sorry, but when you call a female candidate a “whore,” the subtext isn’t any fucking debate about exemptions for spending cut proposals, the subtext is that you’re calling her a whore because it’s an easy slur to remind everyone that she’s a woman. Perhaps Kilgore just isn’t familiar with the fact that, despite those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, female politicians still aren’t taken as seriously as male politicians. “She’ll push the button while she’s PMS-ing” ring any bells? Guess what, you asshole, these ARE puerile and insensitive indicators of chauvinism, but you’re too mired in privilege to get it.