As I wrote on Wednesday, the shutdown of the federal government is not helping GOP change its image as a party of old white men. Whether the “white” part will doom it in the next presidential election is a matter of much debate, though I’m skeptical an all-out war on Obamacare is going to win over Sean Trende’s “missing white voters” in the states that matter in 2016. Being the men’s party seems to be a bigger problem, and this week can’t have been good in making inroads among women voters (not that the Democrats have looked much better).
For example, the most-talked about quote of the week came from a Washington Examinerarticle headlined “GOP stands firm against funding bill, will link to debt ceiling fight”:
“We’re not going to be disrespected,” conservative Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., added. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
Fear of being “disrespected” is the leading cause of bar brawls, knife fights, and road-rage incidents in America. Stutzman sounded as if he’d like to impress a girlfriend by taking a swing at the president. Peggy Noonan may have swooned, but I don’t think the quote reassured women who want an end to the shutdown stand-off.
Then there was the viral video of a Republican congressman from Texas, Randy Neugebauer, scolding a female park ranger for keeping people away from the closed National World War II Monument in Washington. “The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves,” he snapped at her. “I’m not ashamed,” the ranger replied, to which Neugebauer said, “Well, you should be.” It’s hard to imagine a Republican congressman speaking to any man in a military uniform that way. (He might have been ticked off from reading Republican Congressman Doc Hastings’ press release charging that the Obama administration is being selective in its closures of parks and monuments, but I don’t think the park ranger had any input in that.)
Over on cable news, another Republican House member, Todd Rokita of Indiana, batted away questions from CNN’s Carol Costello—which isn’t unusual, but he closed the interview with, “Carol, you’re beautiful, but you have to be honest as well” and, as New York magazine’s Joe Coscarelli put it, “confus[ed] debating with flirting.”
But to show that mansplaining can be bipartisan, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asked CNN reporter Dana Bash why “someone of your intelligence” would ask him a question about passing a stand-alone bill to continue funding cancer-research trials (with kids!) at the National Institutes of Health. (David Weigel has the video.) Reid’s point was that funding a few popular programs would only prolong the shutdown, but his counterexample of suffering (“I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home.”) didn’t help to dispel the “men playing with toys” image of what’s happening in Washington.
Screenshot from YouTube video of Rep. Randy Neugebauer at the National World War II Monument.