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Monday, October 16, 2006

While We’re on the Subject of Sexism…

posted by on October 16 at 15:55 PM

The Darcy Burner campaign is describing as “highly derogatory” this comment by Republican Congressman Dave Reichert, made at a press event last Thursday:

[Darcy Burner] has been on the planet 35 years. I’ve served the public for 35 years.

After getting Burner’s press release on this, I still wasn’t sure whether she was trying to say that Reichert’s comment was sexist or ageist, so I called up Burner’s spokeswoman, who told me that it’s both (and added that Burner will be holding an event with women’s leaders tomorrow calling on Reichert to apologize).

The Burner campaign is also comparing Reichert’s comment to a gaffe made by former Republican Rep. Rod Chandler during his 1992 debate with Patty Murray. (Don’t remember that one? Don’t worry, neither did I, but Joel Connelly remembers and the gaffe apparently involved a Roger Miller song and the phrase “woman would you weep for me.”)

The Burner campaign points out that Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (R-Spokane) was elected at age 33, and that if Reichert, 55, wanted to compare records, he could have compared his record in law enforcement to Burner’s record at Microsoft, rather than dismissing her simply because of her shorter time “on the planet.”

What do you think, Slog readers? Is this Reichert comment sexist? Ageist? Bad form? Smart politics? Is Burner making something out of nothing?

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I'm a Burner supporter, but I don't think Reichert was being sexist OR ageist.

He was simply pointing out one of the factors voters will need to consider in choosing between the two candidates: one is older and has the benefit of experience and a long public service career. The other is young, energetic, has a fresh perspective on the issues we face today.

Burner makes a rookie mistake by reacting to this statement. She is drawing attention to a criticism that will be a non-starter for most voters.

Posted by libbertine | October 16, 2006 4:05 PM

Ageist? Of course but that is the most overlooked of all discriminations.

Sexist? um, what?

Posted by ky | October 16, 2006 4:09 PM

What an asshole.

TOok him 20 fucking years to find out Gary Ridgeway was murdering hookers all over the county, and his calls that service?

Posted by Will | October 16, 2006 4:17 PM

For my part he simply provided yet another reason why he needs to go. His 35 years are plenty too many. Time to retire Dave, let us lend you a hand in doing so.

Posted by Daniel K | October 16, 2006 4:24 PM

yes… but what good the statement serves is beyond me. The harm is obvious, he is breaking, like rule number one of the lefty handbook… which is never make mention of physical traits to elevate oneself. But to the choir he is preaching to, one look at his head of grey hair and crows feet compared with her long locks and apple cheeks does show about a 20 year age difference already. Oh, maybe he is trying to secure the vote of the blind neo-con?

Posted by Phenics | October 16, 2006 4:26 PM

Darcy is making a mistake to highlight this. Let it go, stay on your own message.

Posted by Timothy | October 16, 2006 4:28 PM

Answer: E. Burner, as usual, is making something out of nothing.

Posted by Fooled Again | October 16, 2006 4:28 PM

I think it's discriminatory. Reichert would never say that if he was running against a man in his thirties. In fact, men in their early thirties run all the time (and win) and their age is rarely mentioned, even if they are running against someone older.

We shouldn't be judging this based on age or length of service. We should be looking at performance.

Posted by boo | October 16, 2006 4:35 PM

As Burner said at the Tuesday debate: if Reichert worked at Microsoft he and his buddies would have been fired for their no-nothing "performance".

Reichert is just another Good Ol' Boy in a Congress full of them. When they're not taking bribes, preying on pages, fixing elections, undermining the Constitution and our rights, or playing Cowboy by invading sovereign nations, they're basically doing absolutely nothing to solve the problems this nation faces.

I'll take a smart, educated, hard working 35 year old woman over an aging, over the hill, two-bit cop with delusions of grandeur and under the thumb of the Bush administration and Karl Rove any day!

Posted by Daniel K | October 16, 2006 4:55 PM

I think he would have been much more effective had he simply said that he refuses to make an issue of his opponent’s youth and inexperience… (It worked for the Gipper!)

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | October 16, 2006 4:59 PM

it's nothing. She looks like a cry baby liberal if sh pursues this.

Posted by tim | October 16, 2006 5:01 PM

Of course it's an ageist thing to say, and a brilliant one at that. Reichert is dying for a debate about who is older (older like, um, the electorate). So don't speak of elephants, Darcy.

And whose side are you on, Eli? Isn't it the duty of unabashedly biased media to bury these blunders?

Posted by GW | October 16, 2006 5:15 PM

Part of me hopes that Darcy will use this non-incident to play the victim card. That would give me the opportunity to have the most fun ridiculing her that I will have had in the last 9 months of writing about this race. The other part of me would rather watch her self-destruct on more substantive issues.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky | October 16, 2006 5:18 PM

Now we know just how inexperienced Burner is: A good Democrat such as I gagged as I read her reaction to Reichert's score-one-for-experience remark. If her only comeback is to cry foul and somehow figure it is sexist to criticize your opponent merely because she is of the opposite sex, or ageist because SHE'S the young one, God help My Party!

Posted by Popoff | October 16, 2006 5:19 PM

Burner will lose votes if she decides to play identity politics with this. She is in fact 35, and there's nothing ist about Reichert pointing this out.

In fact, she should just ride with the youth thing and sell herself as young, sharp, energetic, open-minded, up and coming compared to the dull, slothful, narrow-minded, has-been that Reichert is.

Posted by Sean | October 16, 2006 5:22 PM

Ageist, yes. Sexist, no.

Posted by Willis | October 16, 2006 5:23 PM

She really shouldn't make a big deal out of this. It's such a throwaway line to begin with that calling for an apology seems just thin skinned. If I were her, I'd respond with something like, "I applaud your calling to public service. I'm seeking the same opportunity, and hope to dedicate the next 35 years of my life to public service," or, "I'm acutely aware of your record of public service. I believe that within three terms in Congress, I will have accomplished more than you have in three decades of public service."

Posted by Gitai | October 16, 2006 5:24 PM

What Reichert did, minimizing Darcy's family, military and BUSINESS experience, was completely condescending. The campaign gaffe was his - showing your true colors when you're on the run. I don't know about sexist, but it's certainly ageist. I suspect there are more young famlies/professionals in the district than old white guys.

Posted by watcher | October 16, 2006 5:31 PM

"I suspect there are more young famlies/professionals in the district than old white guys."

Don't know about that, but old people definitely vote at higher rates, and they don't vote along age lines.

Posted by Sean | October 16, 2006 5:57 PM

Could someone who understands how this is sexist please explain it to the rest of us?

Posted by mattymatt | October 16, 2006 5:57 PM

There IS something that Burner is making nothing out of: her own qualifications and why she is a worthier candidate than Reichert.

Neck and neck is probably the most optimistic view of this race any Burner supporter can take. She needed to establish and legitimize her candidacy these last few months, and all she's done is take shots at Reichert and use Guilt by Association to smear-link his name with Dubya's.

That's no more than half the battle. She didn't bother fighting the other half: proving to the casual voter, who is mostly indifferent to this red vs blue fracas, that she deserves their votes more than Reichert does.

Posted by Gomez | October 16, 2006 5:58 PM

I wouldn't dignify Sheriff Hairspray's blather as either ageist or sexist. It's merely patronizing.

Posted by N in Seattle | October 16, 2006 10:03 PM

off message - she needs to quit talking about him -

for fundraising from the commies and pinkos and assorted liberals

large mistake, campaiagn in chaos?

predict - lots of last minute scattered hype from bruner, no substance - silver fox by 2 points

Posted by Jacka | October 16, 2006 10:25 PM

It is certainly ageist, and totally patronizing. Maybe I'm blind, but I'm not seeing it as sexist.

I don't think it is totally a mistake to make a big deal about it. The biggest thing most incumbents have going for them is name recognition. Those of us paying attention know who Burner is, but polls still show that Reichert has substantially higher name recognition. Any press she gets at this point that isn't completely negative will help. She may be making a mountain out of a molehill, but she's getting her name out there.

Posted by SDA in SEA | October 16, 2006 11:46 PM

The Fame Fallacy: Any press is good press as long as you get press.

Posted by Gomez | October 17, 2006 10:12 AM
Could someone who understands how this is sexist please explain it to the rest of us?

It's already been done.

I think it's discriminatory. Reichert would never say that if he was running against a man in his thirties. In fact, men in their early thirties run all the time (and win) and their age is rarely mentioned, even if they are running against someone older.

This line would have never been used if he were running against a man. Society has built it up to where it is impolite to mention a women's age. And the reason is that everyone knows that a women passes her useful date at the ripe old age of twenty nine. So, by saying she's too young to do the job, he also gets to say that she's too old to do the job. Shouldn't she be having more kids or something? She may be past her sell by date for the rest of us, but her husband can still get some use out of her.

There's a lot of ungly information packed up in that one line for the wrong kind of person. Hell, Reichert himself may not even be aware of half of it.

Posted by A little mouse | October 17, 2006 10:14 AM

I find Darcy Burner's allegation that Reichert's line was sexist to be both anti-Semitic and homophobic.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky | October 17, 2006 10:25 AM

lol @ Will & Stefan
Agree with Timothy. Let it go. It might be "ageist" (is that even a word?), but no big deal. Definitely not sexist.

Posted by him | October 17, 2006 2:30 PM

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