By John Rolfe / Red Hook, N.Y.
Pardon me if I sound sexist, but there was a time when I believed that women were inherently superior to men. I’d witnessed more than enough boneheaded behavior by members of my gender (I plead guilty in some cases) to think that a woman’s mature, intelligent, nurturing, responsible and stabilizing influence was sorely needed in many areas of life, politics especially.
Sadly, I have been proven wrong by the Republican Party’s distaff division.
Don’t get me wrong. Women deserve a full, robust role in the affairs of the nation and there are many who are doing a fine job. It’s just that ongoing events have served to remind me that no group of human beings has a monopoly on virtue.
The case of Liz Cheney brought this fact into stark relief. Though I disagree with many of the Wyoming congresswoman’s conservative views, I admire her courage and integrity in standing up to her dangerously unhinged party and its villainous leader at great cost. It’s a sad commentary that Cheney was soundly rejected by her state’s GOP primary voters in favor of Harriet Hageman, an attorney who conveniently switched from being an opponent of Donald Trump in 2016 to an unabashed supporter who calls him “the greatest president of my lifetime.”
The GOP is now overrun by appalling women who make an election denier like Hageman — notorious for her work against environmental protection — look tame. We can start with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, the Bellatrix Lestrange of American politics. Not a day goes by without her issuing some kind of wildly ignorant, bizarre and inflammatory comment.
Who can forget:
“Not only do we have the D.C. jail which is the D.C. gulag, but now we have Nancy Pelosi’s gazpacho police spying on members of Congress, spying on the legislative work that we do, spying on our staff and spying on American citizens.”
Or her claim that wildfires in California had been started by space lasers controlled by Zionists.
Or her open call for an overtly Christian nationalism that embraces fascism.
Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado is not much better. With the country awash in gun violence, she saw fit last year to have her kids proudly pose with rifles for a Christmas photo. She has also said, "The church is supposed to direct the government, the government is not supposed to direct the church. I'm tired of this separation of church and state junk."
Lovely. It’s only one of our country’s founding principles.
Then we have Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, who has transformed herself from a reasonable moderate into a reliable lackey for Trump. Stefanik zealously defends Trump’s every questionable action, including his likely illegal possession of highly classified documents that were the target of the FBI’s recent search of his Mar-a-Lago estate.
“If the FBI can raid a U.S. President, imagine what they can do to you,” Stefanik tweeted, conveniently ignoring the fact that it is long-established procedure that the FBI can search anyone if it has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and a proper search warrant has been secured. But never mind. Let’s sow some more misinformation that is likely to incite violence against law enforcement personnel.
Further down this unsavory totem pole we have Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who recently derided President Biden with a malaprop tweet: "From June to July, fentanyl seizures were up 203% at the southern border. Biden's open border is crippling your community."
And lest we forget, their Big Mama Whack-a-Doodle prototype, Sarah Palin, is back in play, having advanced in a primary to run for Alaska’s lone seat in the House.
There’s also an alarming viciousness to be found in right-wing media mouthpieces like Laura Ingraham and Anne Coulter. Ingraham has gone as far as mocking the injuries and suffering of officer Michael Fanone of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police, who was injured in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. This from a supposed advocate of backing the blue. Coulter has called outspoken widows of 9/11 victims “harpies” and “witches.”
"I've never seen people enjoy their husbands' deaths so much," Coulter wrote in her book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism.
Outspoken, confrontational female politicians on the left — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in particular — are regarded by the right as boogeywomen, and you may have strong negative feelings about them. But there’s a difference between advocating for particular policies and making garden-variety political statements that assail one’s opponents and supporting efforts to overturn a certified election without legal or even truthful grounds and undermine the rule of law.
That any ostensibly rational, mature adult would continue to stoke the flames of ignorance, anger and civil unrest for personal gain is a grave tragedy in these troubled times. That any woman would worship at the altar of Donald Trump, given his infamous “grab ’em by the pussy” statement on an Access Hollywood video, the accusations of sexual misconduct by 26 women, and his countless sexist remarks) is astounding and depressing. But we have Arizona’s female gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake hailing Trump’s BDE (big dick energy).
“To be a handmaiden of Trump and get a little pat on the head from Trump is not a leadership move,” former Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) told Time.com while referring to Elise Stefanik, who is regarded in the GOP as a rising star. “It’s embarrassing. It’s sad.”
Again, I’m not saying there aren’t honorable women in politics or the Republican Party. And pardon me if I sound sexist again, but my own sainted mother used to tell me that the female is the fiercest of the species. Mom may well have been right. It’s just sad to see so many of them of the Republican variety vying to be the most dangerously stupid as well.
John Rolfe is a former senior editor for Sports Illustrated for Kids, a longtime columnist for the Poughkeepsie Journal/USA Today Network, and author of The Goose in the Bathroom: Stirring Tales of Family Life. His school bus drivin’ blog “Hellions, Mayhem and Brake Failure” is parked on his website Celestialchuckle.com (https://celestialchuckle.com) with the meter running.