August 04, 2004

Not a Class Act

Oliver Willis forwards us an interesting piece about the baying of the Republican attack dogs: From the August 3 edition of MSNBC Live:

FORMER SENATOR ROBERT DOLE: I know Teresa. She was-- her late husband, John Heinz, a good friend of mine. She's a very outspoken woman, and I don't think they'd be able to-- There's not a muzzle big enough out there, I don't think.

Jesus H. Christ! This is a woman who was married to one of your "good friends" for 25 years. This is a woman who was the spouse of one of your fellow Republican senators, for God's sake, and who you saw at innumerable cocktail parties for fifteen years.

No class. No class at all.

Posted by DeLong at August 4, 2004 08:58 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post

I personally like THK a lot, but if she really is going to be a problem for the Kerry campaign, then perhaps she should be taken out of the spotlight if she can't exercise some self control. Bitch at me if you want - hell, I probably would if I were one of you guys - but honestly, some people could be turned off by her. And while it's easy to say, "Fuck them! We don't want their votes!" you will be singing a different story come November 3 or 4 if Kerry loses. It's a stupid world, I think, but it would be even more stupid to have the campaign be hurt by something that could easily be controlled.

Posted by: Brian on August 4, 2004 09:16 PM


There's nothing wrong with Dole saying that no force in the world can keep Heinz-Kerry quiet (especially if it's true), but he should have picked a better choice of words than "muzzle."

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson on August 4, 2004 09:19 PM


One (wry) comment. Who's more condescendng, Dole or Willis?
THK wants to have it both ways- to be respected both as a woman and a lady- and Dole complimented her the only way he knew, perhaps even in the only way that makes sense. Now Willis is defending her honor. How quaint. But she doesn't really need his help.

I suppose we could get in a discussion of the complexities of 'difference feminism'...

Posted by: Ehrsaadts Gle' on August 4, 2004 09:34 PM


I didn't see Dole make the remark, but knowing him he might have meant it as a compliment--a nod to her fierce independence, or something like that.

Posted by: Strange Doctrines on August 4, 2004 09:38 PM


I agree with Alan and Strange. I don't see the problem with Dole saying that if you try to quiet THK, she'll flip you. Flip you for real.

Or is this one of those silly outrages in which it's not the content that is offensive but rather the particular choice of words?

Posted by: Del on August 4, 2004 10:51 PM


The pot calling the kettle black.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on August 4, 2004 11:39 PM


“In some ways all of Greater San Francisco is a paradise . . .”

That’s something I never got used to out here—confusing good climate for civilization.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on August 4, 2004 11:47 PM


Does anyone else recall Dole's lecherous poor taste in doing the Britney Spears Pepsi commercial ("down boy"). A low point.

Perhaps the one who would benefit the public discourse by being muzzled is not Mrs. Kerry.

Posted by: Tim B. on August 5, 2004 03:53 AM


What Strange said. Dole is known for a lively sense of humor, when he isn't scripted. Maybe he was trying to be nice, in a funny kind of way.

Posted by: kharris on August 5, 2004 04:35 AM


With Dole, I'd have to see the whole thing in context to make a judgement. He has a sharp sense of humor and a tart tongue. I'm not sure he meant this as a slam.

And Dole knows something about spouses with active political profiles....

Posted by: tcs on August 5, 2004 05:16 AM


"Jesus H. Christ!" is a real classy thing to say, though, right?

Posted by: Dan on August 5, 2004 05:28 AM


If this came from Tom DeLay or someone like that, I'd be outraged. But Dole has always had a sense of humor and respect -- I'd give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant it with wry humor and as back-handed compliment.

Posted by: Oberon on August 5, 2004 05:54 AM


Bob Dole is speaking from a culture where it is custom to muzzle politicians' women. Sadly we barely hear the domination and repression in the locution.

Posted by: 2fair on August 5, 2004 06:12 AM


Sounds to me like a Dole-style endorsement of Kerry.

Posted by: Lee A. on August 5, 2004 06:24 AM


Kerry enjoy's a 16 point lead among women, according to one poll. Dole's yapping about "muzzles" will not endear the Republicans further with women, so I say keep it up, Bob

Posted by: Bob H on August 5, 2004 06:39 AM


It was an unfortunate choice of words, but not having HEARD the comment, only read it, I'm with the commenters who think Dole might've intended it as a backhanded compliment. When Bob Dole tries to be funny, tone & body language count for a lot.

Posted by: Lex on August 5, 2004 07:01 AM


Recall that Dole is the guy who described Carter, Ford and Nixon as "See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Evil." I find him execrable on so many issues, but on this one, I'm with the cut-him-some-slack group. Besides, maybe it was just the Viagra talking....

Posted by: consigliere on August 5, 2004 07:13 AM


Bob Dole thinks Bob Dole should speak. This is your Bob Dole on drugs.

Posted by: Carol on August 5, 2004 07:14 AM


San Francisco does not have a good climate.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on August 5, 2004 08:03 AM


"San Francisco does not have a good climate."

I used to think so too (about the peninsula not the whole Bay Area, that is: I have been caught too many times in the city around 4 p.m. without my sweater). But since then, I moved to Boston, and I am not so snobbish about the weather anymore...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on August 5, 2004 08:08 AM


I'm with consigliere. The hear no evil line remains my all time favorite political jibe.

Posted by: masaccio on August 5, 2004 08:08 AM


P.S. I wouldn't want to disturb the cut-him-some-slack croud, but isn't Dole's comment a not-so-vailed sexist attack? Of course, you'll tell me that after Schwartzie's girlie men, it's hard to sound sexist in California these days...

Those who find the joke cool must be men with %99 probability. It reminds me of a racist joke that had been told among a group of very good friends of mine. I had started that, first with cultural jokes against myself and then on with a very soft African joke. Present were a couple of very good Senegaleese friends. Then another white guy decided to bid me up and asked the audience what was the difference between a tire and an African American. (The answer is that the tire once chained doesn't sing the blues.) That white friend of mine was a bit surprised to see his joke not go down very well with our Senegalese friends. Aside from the action, our Senegalese friends and I concluded simply that he had visibly no clue how deep the wound of slavery is for all black people.

I suspect the people on this blog who feel confortable joking about muzzling an opiniated woman like a mad dog are forgeting that not so long ago (and obviously still today in some circles), it was indeed a woman's duty to shut it up in public and let the man do the talking... I actually believe that THK could play a very productive role as first lady in changing American attitudes towards women in some of the culturally darker corners of the nation.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on August 5, 2004 08:26 AM


I also think Dole meant it as praise.
He's unmuzzled himself, wry, dry and our sincerest praise of others are for shared

Posted by: scraig46 on August 5, 2004 08:30 AM


San Francisco does not have a good climate.

Ever try Dallas this time of year? (also ditto the takes arguing that Dole intended no offense)

Posted by: son volt on August 5, 2004 08:39 AM



I think you are right. Even if you concede that it is a joke, its the jocularity of the well-fed middle-aged business-man at the country club who begins his story with "Just among us girls..."

Posted by: 2fair on August 5, 2004 09:22 AM


I really think that the Kerry spin people should be able to make Theresa into a resource. I don't know if they have the imagination and boldness to do that, but I think that it's possible.

The "shove it" remark is about what anyone would have said to the creep. Knowing the whole story, almost all Americans would support Theresa. Most of the people who are feigning indignation about it do know the whole story, and they show themselves to be tools.

I don't know exactly how to beat the RNC attack machine and the enemy media, but shriveling up every time something comes out is not the way to do it. You need to have a coutnerattack, and it should be funny (because the media people do appreciate snark even though they're political zombies).

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on August 5, 2004 09:51 AM


I'm with the folks who don't find this particularly offensive.

my read on it--and I agree that hearing and seeing him say it would provide important information on how it was meant--but judging purely by the words, I took it to mean that THK was an indomitable force, and that even the most extreme measures would be to no avail.

not a slam as far as I'm concerned, but then I admire strong women.

Posted by: rebecca blood on August 5, 2004 10:36 AM


Offensive or not, I don't think Dole meant it as a compliment at all, unless he likes to refer to himself as a b*tch. If so and I just don't know about it, then it could possibly be construed as a compliment. However, I doubt it. It was a back-handed insult.

Posted by: chickensoup on August 5, 2004 12:21 PM


My wife and I did hear him make this comment in context, and both of us found it highly insulting at the time. While I realize that Bob Dole can be dry in his sense of humour, and I have laughed many times to it, this did not come off as one of them. This came off as an attack.

Posted by: Scotian on August 7, 2004 02:20 AM


Actually, Brad, I think it's kind of funny. (Particularly given her statement a few days ago that she thought it was perfectly justifiable for Bush to spend those 7 minutes after being told by Andrew Card that "America is under attack", sitting in that classroom reading "My Pet Goat". This confirms my suspicions that the woman is an arrogant fool.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on August 8, 2004 05:22 PM


Post a comment