(ETA: I see now that Hilary Clinton threw her hat in the ring yesterday and that Marco Rubio is supposed to today.)
For readers that have joined this blog since the last US Election, be warned: I talk about US Elections, even though I’m Canadian citizen. I talked about Election 2012 far too much. But I was genuinely curious about how it was going to shake out for disabled people in America. Most candidates dropped some general hints in their comments about their plans to bolster (or not bolster, as the case may be) the social security net, but few addressed the disability issue directly, or took the time to address a group large group of disabled people that invited the candidates to speak to them.
I already feel confident in making some predictions about Rand Paul based on past record. He voted “No” on the ratification of the CRPD (as did Rubio, for what it’s worth) and several months ago made some off-the cuff but inaccurate comments about SSDI and fraud:
“What I tell people is, if you look like me and you hop out of your truck, you shouldn’t be getting a disability check. Over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts — join the club. Who doesn’t get a little anxious for work and their back hurts? Everybody over 40 has a back pain. And I am not saying that there are not legitimately people who are disabled. But the people who are the malingerers are the ones taking the money away from the people who are paraplegic, quadriplegic. You know, we all know people who are horrifically disabled and can’t work, but if you have able bodied people taking the money, then there is not enough money for the people who are truly disabled.”
After taking some time to actually learn some statistics about disability in America, Rand Paul discovered that people get disability checks for more types of disabilities than backaches and anxiety…that the people who have these disabilities don’t make up over half the people that collect disability checks, and that the fraud rate for SSDI is actually relatively low. He tried to walk the statement back, but obviously I remember it – chances are others do as well. Besides, his Libertarian “If you haven’t prepared then I shouldn’t have to help you” leanings aren’t going to make him very sympathetic to the needs of disabled people, I’d imagine, or to those of families who have disabled children that may require costly supports and services.
But I’m actually here today to comment on another story regarding Rand Paul. It’s not disability-related, so I ask for your indulgence as I meander a bit.
I came across a video on my Facebook timeline, entitled “Rand Paul Releases Sexist Condescension on Two Women Journalists”
“Interesting,” I thought, letting the video run.
I ended up watching it several times, because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing:
Rand Paul Needs to Learn to Play Nicely with the Ladies
Now, I acknowledge that NBC’s Savannah Guthrie took a bit of time getting to her actual question, but someone needs to explain to Rand Paul that even when he feels like a like a lady journalist has smacked his ego and left a boo-boo, mansplaining proper interviewing technique to her makes him come across like a little boy throwing a tantrum because a girl bested him at the spelling bee. He’s playing in the big leagues now, where other candidates smile and move on when a journalist’s line of questioning annoys them.
He’s going to have to suck it up.
*I* can be annoyed, though, and I was. I was annoyed on Savannah Guthrie’s behalf, that he spoke to her the way he did and that because of her position, she couldn’t really say anything back to him. I think that she was annoyed, too.
And then I saw him “shush” the second reporter, CNBC’s Kelly Evans, and my eyes narrowed, and I moved from annoyed to downright angry.
My mother was not a woman who would be “shushed” and she didn’t raise my sister and I to be “shushed”. I like to think that I could have kept it polite in that reporter’s circumstances, but I can guarantee that I would have said, “Please don’t “shush” me.”
“Shushing” anyone is rude, and disrespectful, and not what I’d expect from a man who wants to be President. He’s quite rude over the course of this whole interview, in fact, especially towards the end:
He joked about this later to a male reporter who asked about vaccines: “You don’t want to be shushed, do you?”
But I don’t think that Rand Paul would “shush” a man. I think he sees men as colleagues and women as little girls, ultimately to be tolerated, but chastised when they misbehave.
Rand Paul Didn’t “Shush” Megyn Kelly
A bunch of people have called Rand Paul on this behaviour, including Fox’s Megyn Kelly. I have a love-hate relationship with Megyn. Sometimes she’s right on. Sometimes she’s ridiculous. A Jezebel reader caught it nicely, I think, when she said that Megyn Kelly is very good at speaking about issues that affect her – well-off, white, non-disabled (my addition) women. But on these issues she’s quite vocal and can be quite compelling, and her take-down of Rand Paul during an interview with him for how he treated Guthrie and Evans was fairly gutsy – gutsy enough that he didn’t try to speak over her, although you can see he wants to.
She held his feet to the fire, and I think she caught him off-guard. Who’d have guessed that female journalists won’t always defer to you, huh, Rand Paul?
But I was waiting for him to try and talk over her. I was watching him, seething, forgetting all the times that I’ve disagreed with Megyn Kelly, seeing her the way I see my sister, my friends, my colleagues, the women I’ve supported over the years, and thinking:
“Don’t you fucking dare shush her.”
I don’t want Rand Paul in the White House (not just for the reasons I’ve talked about, but this is getting long.) I’ll try not to write too much about Election 2016…but plan on hearing that again.