Calling Liberals Out about Kellyanne Conway

Content Note: Sexism, Crude commentsRoadway stop sign. Keyword: Kellyanne ConwayImage Description: Red roadway stop sign

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I asked you all not to make me do this again — to make me write something where it comes across like I’m defending Donald Trump. For those that haven’t heard me say it before, I don’t like the man. I don’t like what he stands for. I don’t like that my nieces and nephew are spending their formative years in a world where he is President. And I don’t like Kellyanne Conway either, for that matter.

I’m Canadian, but I watched the campaigning for Election 2016 from the word “Go!” I didn’t like Kellyanne Conway when she was working for Ted Cruz, I liked her even less during Donald Trump’s campaign, and I like her even less now. I have a grudging something-very-vaguely-resembling-respect for her in that I think that she knows that she’s full of shit and she’s found a way to weaponize it — The Daily Show did a good piece on Kellyane Conway’s rhetorical strategies  — and you can’t deny that, while it was working, the method behind her madness was arguably brilliant. But the fact remains that she’s full of shit, and it’s hard for me to have any long-term something-very-vaguely-resembling-respect for someone who lies so easily and so much that Morning Joe will no longer interview her.

That’s a low, right there.

There is plenty — plenty — about which Liberals can rightfully criticize Kellyanne Conway:

  1. How she joined Trump when it looked like he’d win, after personally maligning him as part of the Cruz team. Although, to be fair, she wasn’t the only person involved in Election 2016 who sold out in this way.
  2. Her allegiance to a bully of a President who’s just about every “-ist” there is.
  3. Her refusal to give a straight answer to a question — the reliance on lies, deflection, and denial. Not something that just she does these days, and not something just the GOP does, but frustrating all the same.

However, liberals are *not* sticking to criticisms of her on these grounds. I’m hearing some nasty sexist attacks of Kellyanne Conway from liberals, in conversation and on Facebook and other places, and that needs to stop.

We are better than this.

If You Don’t Like What Kellyanne Conway is Doing or What She Stands For

Then you need to say so and make an argument.

Don’t:

  • Say, “She’s ugly” or “She’s haggard-looking” or “She looks like a coke addict.” Especially if you’ve talked in the past about how sexist it is that there’s so much focus on looks in women in politics.
  • Call her a “whore.” I shouldn’t even have to explain why this is wrong.
  • Make crass, sexist jokes about her. At the Washington Press Club Annual Dinner, Cedric Richmond said, about the picture profiled in the video below: “And you can just explain to me…that circumstance, because she really look kind of familiar in that position there…”

ETA: Richmond’s joke was in response to a thread in a comedy routine earlier in the evening by Republican Tim Scott that “a whole lot worse” had happened on that sofa in the 1990s. Richmond’s full joke (as opposed to the bit that CNN chose to air) went as follows: “Tim, you kind of opened the door. I really just want to know what was going on there, because, you know, I won’t tell anybody. And you can just explain to me that circumstance — because she really looked kind of familiar in that position there. Don’t answer — and I don’t want you to refer back to the 1990s.”

Image Description: Kellyanne Conway kneels on a white sofa in the Oval Office, knees slightly apart, back against the back of the sofa, looking at her phone. She wears a dark dress that ends just above her knees.

Richmond has since apologized to Kellyanne Conway for his joke, and insists that he didn’t mean for it to be sexual. I wasn’t sure that it was at first, but I changed my mind before I even heard the full joke, after thinking about just what was aired on CNN. I’m still mentioning it in this call-out despite Richmond’s apology because Nancy Pelosi didn’t seem to think that the “familiar” joke required an apology when she was interviewed about it on “State of the Union” on March 5.

In case the captioning doesn’t work, here’s the transcript:

Jake Tapper: I need to ask you about this rude joke that was told this week by a member of your caucus, a Democratic Congressman, Cedric Richmond, at the Washington Press Club Annual Dinner at the expense of White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway. Take a listen:

Cut to Cedric Richmond at the event

Richmond: And you can just explain to me that circumstance — because she really looked kind of familiar in that position there.

Cut to Jake Tapper

Jake Tapper: Leader Pelosi, the joke was sexist, it was disgusting…shouldn’t the Congressman apologize to Kellyanne Conway and. honestly, why isn’t the Democratic Party expressing outrage about this?

Nancy Pelosi: I wasn’t at the dinner; I’m just finding out about this. The fact is, I’m still in sort of a state of, “What is going on here?”, that the person who occupies the White House is the person who was on that Hollywood video that said the crude things he said about women. You all are criticizing Cedric for something he said in the course of the evening, and maybe he should be criticized for that, I just don’t know the particulars. I do every day marvel at the fact that someone who said the gross and crude things that Donald Trump said wouldn’t even be allowed in a frat house, and now he’s in the White House.

Jake Tapper: Well, I think we’ve covered the Access Hollywood tape quite a bit, but I guess the question is: If one only criticizes Republicans when they make crude comments, does that not undermine the moral authority if you don’t criticize when Democrats make crude comments?

Nancy Pelosi: Well, I think everyone was making crude comments and I, I just don’t know, I wasn’t at that dinner. But I was at the dinner last night at the Grid Iron Club and we were all, I think, quite, shall we say, respectable. I’ll look at what my colleague said there. But I do think that, in the Oval Office, we were always…always with decorum appropriate for the White House.

Nancy Pelosi, Meet Me at Camera Three

I thought that the Access Hollywood video was disgusting, too. But Kellyanne Conway wasn’t there, and even if she was — citing Donald Trump’s record of bad behaviour toward women doesn’t mean that a member of your party gets a pass when he makes a female White House counselor the subject of a sexist and disgusting joke. Nor does “everyone was making crude comments” excuse his.

I appreciate that you were trying not to make definitive statements about a situation that you knew little about, but you came across as defending a colleague who told a sexist, demeaning joke about one of the President’s main advisers, even going so far as to imply that because she didn’t conduct herself with the standard of decorum that you and your colleagues did in the Oval Office, that she should expect that rudeness.

And if the GOP had done that to Hillary, you and a bunch of other Democrats would have screamed bloody murder. You know it’s true.

I just hope that later on you reconsidered your words and how they came across, and that you were one of the people that encouraged Richmond to apologize.

Bottom Line

Again — there is plenty to criticize Kellyanne Conway on without being sexist. derogatory, dismissive, and crude.

Criticize Kellyanne Conway all you want. But have some integrity about it.

Don’t let Trump take that from you.