Remembering Fritz Hollings

Two great South Carolinians: Fritz Hollings and Lee Bandy. Fritz is probably castigating Lee for what he called 'the Bandy Hurdle,' and Lee is letting it roll off his back.

Two great South Carolinians: Fritz Hollings and Lee Bandy. Fritz is probably castigating Lee for what he called ‘the Bandy Hurdle,’ and Lee is letting it roll off his back.

I was awakened Saturday morning by a notification on my iPhone — Fritz Hollings had died. I didn’t get around to writing something about it that day, or the next day, or the next, because it just seemed like too big a task.

And it was too big a task, remembering Fritz and what he meant to me and other South Carolinians. And I don’t have time to undertake it today, either. So here are some scattered thoughts, rather than a coherent whole:

  • First, he was of that generation — the postwar generation — that believed in using government to get things done. Big things, things that made life better in their state and country. He saw it as his duty. He brought great energy and great intellect to that task, throughout his career. He didn’t let ideology or party or what other people might think of him get in the way of that mission. Young people today by and large don’t know what it was like to have this kind of elected leader, although we still have some around. You know, like Fritz’s younger friend Joe Biden.
  • He may have been the first politician I ever met and shook hands with. Or maybe it was Strom. Or maybe it was a state senator. I just remember being taken by my grandfather to an event in Bennettsville, at the Marboro County Country Club. I was introduced to someone called “the senator.” I can’t remember who it was. Maybe it wasn’t Fritz, because he wasn’t in the Senate until 1966, and surely I’d remember it better if it had been that late. This was probably in the ’50s, so probably Strom. But my point in mentioning it is that he and Strom were both in public office most of my life, and their service extends as far back as I remember and beyond. Say “senator” to me and I picture one of them. Both held some sort of public office well before I was born. And most of that time, they’d have been called “senator.” As in, Boy, shake hands with the senator…
  • Fritz is the reason we have our state technical schools, which in turn are a big reason why we have BMW and other major employers. And the way he got them was so old-school, so pre-Watergate Morality, so whatever-it-takes, so non-21st century, that it is a thing of beauty. Basically, he took a bottle of bourbon with him to visit one of the main obstacles of getting his tech schools passed, Senate Finance Chairman Edgar A. Brown. They drank the bottle together, and when it was empty Fritz had a one-paragraph agreement that founded his tech system. And countless thousands of South Carolinians have benefited.
  • While Hilton Head was booming as a destination for the rich, Fritz Hollings showed the nation aspects of life in South Carolina the Chamber of Commerce wouldn’t have appreciated. Here’s how The New York Times described his “poverty tours” in its obit: “Having grown up in segregated Charleston, attended a segregated college and served in a segregated army, Mr. Hollings had little contact with poor black people and initially opposed civil rights legislation. Guided by N.A.A.C.P. officials, he toured poor black and white areas of his state in 1968 and 1969, and what he saw shocked him: rat-infested slums where families subsisted on grits and greens; children infected with worms, living in shacks without lights, heat or water; a mentally disabled mother of 10 who had never heard of food stamps. ‘There is hunger in South Carolina,’ a solemn Mr. Hollings told a Senate committee. ‘I know as a public servant I am late to the problem,’ adding, ‘We’ve got work to do in our own backyard, just as anybody who’s candid knows he has work in his own backyard, and I’d rather clean it up than cover it up.'” In other words, he faced the real problems of South Carolina without blinking.
  • In the ’80s, the Gramm–Rudman–Hollings Balanced Budget Act constituted the most serious effort to bring the nation’s spending in line with its income in my lifetime. He remained a budget hawk for the rest of his career. When other Democrats were claiming to have produced balanced budgets in the late ’90s, he scoffed — if the budgets were “balanced,” how come the national debt kept growing?
  • They may have named that new bridge after Arthur Ravenel, but I enjoyed this anecdote from my cousin Jason, who remembers how relentless Fritz was in taking every possible opportunity to get South Carolina what it needed: “I drove over the Ravenel Bridge today and remembered Fritz Hollings. When I interned with him, one of my dad’s college buddies was the Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House and was nominated to be Secretary of Transportation. Senator Hollings was the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and would vote to approve the nomination. As I walked out of the Senator’s office to go to the White House to have lunch with Andy Card, the Senator said, ‘Tell Andy Card if he wants my vote, we need a new bridge over the Cooper River. OK boy, go get us that bridge.’ I did, Senator Hollings, I did…”
  • Fritz was known for his, um,  frankness. A lot of people’s favorite story was when he answered a Japanese insult to the American work ethic by suggesting we should draw a mushroom cloud with the caption, “Made in America by lazy and illiterate Americans and tested in Japan.” Another might be when he said to our current governor, “I’ll take a drug test if you’ll take an IQ test.” But my favorite was when he’d just been re-elected after a tough challenge in 1992, and said that now “I don’t have to get elected to a bloomin’ thing. And I don’t have to do things that are politically correct. The hell with everybody. I’m free at last.” Of course, he ran again in 1998 against Bob Inglis, and we voted him in again. You can’t vote a guy like that out of office. People say they like Trump because he’s not “politically correct.” Well, neither was Fritz. But he didn’t sound like an idiot. Therein lies the difference.
  • Fritz was equally frank about what he thought of the press, and his criticism (unlike Trump’s) was right on the money. He fully understood that the press covered politics like sports — ignoring what was important, and yammering endlessly about winning and losing and strategy. My longtime colleague Paul Osmundson shared the picture above of Fritz and our late, dear friend Lee Bandy. Well, Bandy wrote his share of horse-race stories, many while I was his editor. And I well remember the editorial board meetings in which Fritz ripped into Lee for it. The senator complained that he tried and tried to get reporters to write about substantive issues, but “Ah can’t get past THE BANDY HURDLE. THE BANDY HURDLE! All he wants to talk about is who’s up? Who’s down? Who’s winning? Who’s losing? The Bandy hurdle…” And he was right. But don’t blame Lee (who chuckled through these tirades). They all do it. And we editors all share the blame. (This was the bane of my experience with the campaign last year. I wanted to talk about who should be governor and why, and reporters wanted to talk about campaign ad strategy, or which 2020 hopefuls were coming to campaign with us. Yeah, I hear ya, senator…)
  • I first met Joe Biden through Fritz. I’d always wanted to meet him, and since they were friends, one time in the 2000s when I saw Biden was coming to town, I called Fritz to ask him to ask Joe to come by and meet with us. He did, and Joe came by on a Friday afternoon (our hardest workday) and talked for two-and-a-half hours. It was stressful, knowing we’d have to get all those pages out before we left that night, but I enjoyed it, and appreciated that Hollings set it up.
  • I mentioned Bob Inglis. He and Fritz became friends after their contest in ’98. I liked what he said on Facebook: “Over lunch in Charleston in 2015 (we’d long since made up after the 1998 race), Senator Hollings told me that he’d shrunk 2 inches–6’2″ to 6′. I wish I had said, ‘No, Senator, you haven’t shrunk a bit–not in what you’ve meant to SC, not in what you’ve meant to America.’ Farewell, sir.”
  • Speaking of Republicans, when Strom left office and Fritz finally became our senior senator after 36 years, he took Strom’s replacement under his wing. He encouraged Lindsey Graham and had a lot of good things to say about him. I’m thinking he was probably proud of Lindsey when he said all those honest things about Trump back during the 2016 election. And I think he’d be scornful of what Lindsey has become. You’d never, ever have seen Fritz kowtowing to someone like Trump — or to anyone, for that matter.

I’ve got to get back to work. And when I go home tonight, I need to get back to reading Ron Chernow’s book on Alexander Hamilton. I originally got that book because Fritz called (about something else, probably one of his opeds) and told me how wonderful it was, way back when I was still at the paper. Least I can do in the senator’s memory is finish it…

41 thoughts on “Remembering Fritz Hollings

  1. Doug T.

    I’ve watched his Senate farewell speech 5-6 times (including this past weekend) through the years. Still so relevant today. Very few politicians do I admire but Fritz and his scheduled eulogizer, Joe Biden, stand out among the rest.

  2. bud

    Fritz was a true statesman. And quite a character. Haven’t heard from him in a while. Had he been sick a long time?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I think so. Whenever I’ve asked people who would know how he was doing in recent years, the answer had tended to be, “Not well.”

      But I don’t know that it was a particular illness over that time. I think it was kind of like my great-great grandmother, who died in 1915. Her death certificate said, “no cause known other than extreme old age.” Having been born in 1822, she was 97, same as Fritz…

  3. Harry Harris

    Hollings always reminded me of Foghorn Leghorn somewhat – both the voice and the paternalism. He knew a lot, and was a really good deal-maker. He was able to let his thinking evolve based on new situations and information. The overall welfare of the country meant a great deal to him, and he would work with disparate persons and groups to advance common goals.
    I remember thinking when Senator Thurman died that getting Lindsey Graham was at least a good trade though I disliked and didn’t trust Graham. When Fritz Hollings left, I thought our state had exchanged a statesman for a snake (DeMint), and were certainly headed for a political rathole. The jury is still out, but I think there’s hope that some meaningful sense of community might be salvaged – once the Trumpian meanness clears. There’s some hope in my mind that Tim Scott could become a positive bridge if he can expand his thinking and become more open to new ideas as Hollings did.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Maybe. I haven’t really seen much from Tim Scott. And I don’t see him turning into a Hollings-sized figure.

      Lindsey engaged in pedestrian cliches describing Fritz — calling him “a giant of a man,” and saying “they broke the mold” — but that’s OK. It was for extraordinary individuals like Fritz that such cliches were first coined…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I like this quote from The State’s obit:

        When he departed Washington, CBS newsman Bob Schieffer declared him “the last of the great individuals. He was so individualistic that even when he cleared his throat you knew it was Fritz.”

      2. Mark Stewart

        No one will eulogize Graham that way. I am surprised (no, not surprised) that Lindsey doesn’t value legacy and civic impact more. Political maneuvering is really his main game; the tie up with McCain is looking more and more like just a stepping stone phase for Graham – like he didn’t actually evolve through that friendship/alliance. ‘Lil Shifty…

        1. Barry

          I think it’s clear now Lindsey used McCain as long as he could use him.

          Lindsey saw what happened to Mark Sanford and decided he better get in the shower with Trump fast.

      3. Harry Harris

        If Scott can continue to free himself from the Trumpian Primary threats, he may show some independence. He lacks the bombast to rise to Hollings level, but he may be able to be a good deal-maker who can cut across party boundaries and be far-removed from the Graham mold. It’s one thing to evolve and change based on the country’s needs, It’s another to do it out of self-interest. Hollings was secure himself, pursued what he thought was needed, and didn’t go about courting security like a sycophant. Hollings turn around on civil rights was in the face of strong opposition in SC, not being pulled along by dominant forces.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    That thing I said above about Fritz being the kind of guy who ran for public office to get things done….

    That made for a marked contrast to ol’ Strom. Thurmond might have been a world-shaker, in a bad way, back in his Dixiecrat days, but after he decided to serve black constituents as well as white ones, he was devoid of ambition to make any kind of mark on the country.

    Thurmond was the epitome of a certain kind of officeholder — one who has little interest in legislating (the actual job description), but sees himself as being all about constituent service, a troubleshooter for individuals and their interactions with the federal government. Having trouble with the bureacracy? Call Strom’s office.

    Floyd Spence was made in the same mold. He liked being a congressman. I remember the one time I visited his office in Washington, and he proudly showed off his new view that he earned by moving up in the seniority. That, and the pictures on the wall of him gripping and grinning with dozens of dignitaries, seemed to sum up what he was there for.

    Except for that one “You lie!” outburst, Joe Wilson seems to have followed his predecessor’s formula: Keep your head down; don’t rock the boat; be responsive to individual constituents’ concerns; and spend the rest of your life in the office.

    Hollings was totally different. He cared more about doing the job than keeping the job, to use a line we used many times last year to describe the contrast between James Smith and Henry McMaster…

  5. Bart

    Hollings was known as “The Bully of the Senate” by many. Not in a bad way but in the way he used his physical presence, his unmistakable loud voice used at the appropriate time, his way with words and phrases used at the most opportune time. He also had a gentlemanly nature when meeting with the other side when it was in the best interest of the country. He had a personality unlike anyone I can recall and he understood its appeal and how to use it. Now we have Schumer and McConnell who if they were snake charmers, the snakes would leave in protest and disgust.

  6. Brad Warthen Post author

    One reason I love his “the hell with everybody” quote is that it reminds me of what Davy Crockett told voters in Tennessee after he lost his bid for re-election to Congress: “You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.”

    I’ve mentioned that here before, more than once, I know. It’s on a historical marker on the courthouse square in Jackson, Tenn., which is where he said it. I worked at the paper in Jackson for about 10 years.

    It’s my favorite historical marker.

    Like Fritz, Crockett was a unique individual who was way bigger than the office he held…

    1. Dave Crockett

      As supposedly a fifth cousin to Davy Crockett, thanks for the relative kudo. I still like his quote, “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead…” It used to strike me as kind of a non-statement. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate it in terms of examining one’s position on X from as many sides as possible…deciding whether it passes muster…and if it does, then embrace it and “…go ahead”. If it doesn’t pass muster, then reconsider it and re-evaluate it before going ahead…and change, if necessary.

      Anyway, I never thought of Davy Crockett and Fritz Hollings at the same moment and it’s interesting to consider.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        George Washington was very much like that in making decisions. He would methodically and carefully listen to all points of view, then make a decision. However, once he made a decision he was resolute in following through with it and did not change his mind.

        It was one of the great characteristics of him as a man that made him an ideal first President.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Dave, I like what you said, and I identify strongly with your kinsman’s “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead…”

        There’s no way to say this without sounding arrogant to most people, but the truth is, I’ve tried to live by that, well as I could.

        A lot of people think “opinion” means some sort of gut prejudice. An opinion, to them, is like an anus: Everybody’s got one. People see me cast opinions left and right, and see me seldom if ever back down on one, and conclude I’m just a stubborn blowhard.

        What they don’t see is what went into the formation of those opinions. All the years in which I started each day in discussion with a group of smart people working together to form a consensus about difficult issues — several of them each day.

        My approach has been to be very careful about reaching a conclusion, and then state it clearly and yes, quite forcefully. I did so without such qualifiers as “I think” or “we believe.” That’s understood. I go ahead and state the truth, in Lincoln’s words, “as God gives us to see” the truth. I do so fully expecting that those who see it differently will assail that statement with their own arguments — and when theirs are stronger, they will win out.

        Of course, most arguments won’t be stronger, because most people have not been paid for years to spend their days crafting them. And therefore most things people say in opposition are things I considered years ago and saw good reason to reject. (That was always part of my approach to writing opinion — anticipate every objection, deal with it, and do it within the piece you’re writing if you have the time and space. If you don’t have the time and space, at least deal with it internally.)

        So I don’t back down much, and come across as a stubborn, arrogant jerk.

        I imagine that happened to your cousin, and to Washington. It certainly happened a lot to Fritz.

        Of course, I know that despite my best efforts to be “SURE” I’m right, I will sometimes fail. I’ve always figured the best cure for that is to put my conclusions out there, and let them be taken down by better arguments.

        Which, when you think about it, doesn’t cost me much, beyond pride. Washington and Davy Crockett staked their lives on their conclusions. So yeah, I respect them more than I expect anyone to respect me and my views. But I do my best; it’s all anyone can do: “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in…”

  7. Mr. Smith

    Hollings was a product of the Zeitgeist of his times — and the currents in his party.

    In the 1930s, the narrative that took hold in America about how society should operate and, more specifically, what short of public policies should be pursued so that society operated at its best was one that placed an emphasis on the group rather than the individual, on people sharing burdens and resources for the betterment of the whole. This narrative predominated in public life from then into the 1960s. But starting then a new narrative began to gain traction that inverted the emphasis from collective well-being to individual advancement. This was only tangentially related to the various political movements of the time — Civil Rights, women’s, anti-war movement, etc. — and grew instead from an underlying hyper-powered individualism that was best summed up in the phrase “Do your own thing.” In the ensuing years, this new narrative proposed a different approach to how society should operate, with public policies tailored accordingly. It recommended encouraging individual acts of self-improvement (in a purely materialistic sense), along with a corollary focusing on masterstrokes by individual “geniuses” (a.k.a. entrepreneurs). The creativity of the latter combined with millions of individuals seeking to improve their own material circumstances was supposed to act to the improvement of society as a whole. The common good became, in this narrative, another word for oppression. It’s this second narrative that we still live under today. And though it’s often called a “conservative” era, it’s really more a mixture of libertarianism and reactionism. And as far as its primary driver (and beneficiary), the Republican Party, is concerned, it’s a coalition of the self-satisfied comfortable with those nursing a resentment at one social-political development or another.

  8. bud

    And though it’s often called a “conservative” era, it’s really more a mixture of libertarianism and reactionism. And as far as its primary driver (and beneficiary), the Republican Party, is concerned, it’s a coalition of the self-satisfied comfortable with those nursing a resentment at one social-political development or another.
    -Mr. Smith

    Just a bit too long for a bumper sticker but pretty well sums up the GOP in 2019.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Conservatism and liberalism as they were once understood are hardly factors in our politics today.

      There’s nothing conservative about, say, the “Freedom Caucus.” It’s a destructive force, and it’s not conservative to destroy.

      And the so-called “progressives,” with their furious intolerance of those who fail to toe their line, have largely abandoned liberalism…

      1. bud

        Translation: Modern conservatives are mean-spirited racist, bigoted mostly white men who push fiscally irresponsible policies that destroy the environment and the health and financial well being of working and middle class Americans in order to create ever greater wealth for a tiny fraction of well-connected very rich people who mostly inherited their largesse.
        Modern liberals are compassionate, pragmatic, thoughtful people who push back against the vile, modern conservative movement in such a way that it might hurt someone’s feelings.

        1. Doug Ross

          With the Ilhan Omar comments these days we are setting why Trump has a chance to win again. Republicans may not like Trump but they understand the power of maintaining a united front. Democrats, on the other hand, are like herding cats with each small faction wanting its place in the spotlight…even rookie congress members.

          AOC is like that drunk girl character on SNL… babbling incoherently and thinking when she says something with a serious inflection it makes it intelligent.

          As for Omar’s comment about 9/11…Pearl Harbor: some people did something. Holocaust: some people did something. Slavery in America: some people did something. She’s a joke.

          1. bud

            With the Ilhan Omar comments these days we are setting why Trump has a chance to win again.

            Complete, utter, total nonsense. Trump probably wins if the economy continues to remain robust and he doesn’t get us into a stupid war (Venezuela anyone). He almost certainly loses with even a mild economic downturn. Any other president besides Trump would be a prohibitive favorite with these kinds of numbers (3.8% unemployment rate, CPI around 2 and a near record DOW). But because of Trump’s erratic, mean-spirited, spiteful rhetoric along with abhorrent policies toward immigrants, Muslims and a host of others Trump cannot get his approval above 44%. So any thought that some Democrat or liberal making an improper comment having ANY effect whatsoever is pure poppycock.

          2. bud

            Democrats, on the other hand, are like herding cats with each small faction wanting its place in the spotlight…even rookie congress members.

            To paraphrase Winston Churchill: This statement is nonsense, wrapped in poppycock inside an idiocy. The Democrats are much more united than the Republicans. Just check out the votes. The bill condemning hate talk passed with all but one Democrat in favor. Yet 23 Republicans are now on record supporting hate speech. The bill to override Trump’s border wall emergency declaration passed with 100% support from Democrats. 12 GOP senators and more than 30 in the house voted against POTUS. Likewise the Democrats all supported a resolution to turn over the Mueller report. The GOP after first supporting this but then reneged.

            1. Doug Ross

              Right, bud. Check out the way old school relics like pelosi and Schumer are trying to minimize AOC and Omar. Meanwhile Obama is staying out of it. Just wait until the primary starts and they start fighting over who wants to raise taxes the most to give it away to people who don’t deserve it. Buying votes with other people’s money.

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              No, Bud, Doug is right. Democrats are scattered and can’t pick a common direction. Their obsession with the new kids and what they want to talk about is tearing them apart, and making it highly likely that they’ll lose the next election. You celebrate the “bill condemning hate talk:” Have you forgotten they passed that because of the “hate talk” of one of their own Peanut Gallery?

              By contrast, the Republicans are TOO united, marching slavishly along behind Trump. Which is more contemptible, of course, than merely being in disarray…

              1. bud

                Have you forgotten they passed that because of the “hate talk” of one of their own Peanut Gallery?

                Hate talk????? Peanut Gallery???? What a clumsy, utterly ridiculous comment. Omar, an elected United States congresswoman, is finally raising legitimate concerns that have long needed addressing. Too many in congress treat Israel like it’s the 51st state, a nation that continues to flaunt international conventions. There really is an aura of “dual nationalism” among many in this country with regard to Israel. There really are concerns about money influencing policy. There really has been a measure of bigotry aimed at Muslims in this country. Omar should be applauded for taking these positions. Yes, she needs to work on her wording skills but she absolutely has legitimate points. Israel has become a rogue nation that bullies Palestinians with their subsidized settlements and is now escalated this into annexing land that it has zero legitimate claim to. And our tax dollars are funding these illegal practices. And let’s not forget who’s getting serious death threats based on Trump’s gross politicizing of 9-11.

                It’s high time we had new blood in our federal government. The aging leaders from the cold war era need to make way for an inspiring wave of new leaders who get the world we live in; people who understand the serious threat of global warming, income inequality and religious bigotry. Times have changed and it’s time to give our respects to the leaders of the past and wish them well in their retirement. I love Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders but they really are not the future of the Democratic party let alone America. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Abdullahi Omar, Katherine Moore Porter, Joe Cunningham, Rashida Harbi Tlaib and Pramila Jayapal are among the fresh, new, energetic faces in congress. I for one welcome this exciting new era.

    1. Doug Ross

      She doesn’t scare me a bit.. she’s Sarah Palin with even LESS experience. She’s a flash in the pan destined for reality TV. Her thoughts on Amazon moving into NYC were about as dumb as you can get, thinking that tax incentives are the same as payments. I’m doubtful she could balance a checkbook.

        1. Doug Ross

          How could I take a joke seriously? She is fodder for the absurdity of politics as it exists today. A Twitter account is not a substitute for a brain.

          I laugh at her as much as I laugh at Trump. Two pea brains in a pod.

        1. Doug Ross

          It’s not even disdain. It’s how I feel about the Kardashians or Honey Boo Boo. She’s a product of the generation that grew up on selfies and being famous for doing nothing. She’s as much a function of society as Trump is… Just with less actual life experience and accomplishment.

        2. Bill

          Conservatives sure are afraid of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They don’t like that she danced in college, they’re in an uproar over an old high school nickname — some are even spreading a false rumor about a nude photo.

          The Republican, mostly male obsession with the 29-year-old Bronx native is more than run-of-the-mill misogyny; it’s existential panic. Because in addition to the young Democratic Socialist standing for (reasonable) policies that conservatives find terrifying, Ocasio-Cortez represents a vision of the future of the United States — a future that’s no longer centered around old white men.

          The newest class of political representatives are more diverse than ever. Forty-two women were sworn into Congress this year. The freshman class also inducted 24 people of color, 23 of whom are Democrats.

          Ocasio-Cortez — who is telegenic, talented, and unabashedly left — embodies a shift in power that terrifies the right. That’s why the sustained attack on the youngest woman ever elected to Congress is so very specific: making up sexualized rumors, calling her a “girl,” or referring to her as Sandy (I have particular ire for men to use nicknames as a way to belittle women). It is all meant to discredit and diminish her bona fides.

          But this isn’t just about the politician herself. As Adam Serwer noted this week, the animus towards Ocasio-Cortez is part of the racist backlash that we saw in the 2016 presidential election. “More than simply a leftist to be opposed, Ocasio-Cortez has joined Barack Obama as a focus of the very same fear and anger that elected Trump in the first place,” he wrote.

          And as screenwriter and actress Zoe Kazan put it, the attacks are also “designed to shame all young women into thinking they should not/could not run for office — that old videos or pictures or rumors of them would surface, that they could never dress/act/speak unimpeachably enough.”

          It’s all a response to women’s growing cultural power and the pushback against white supremacy.

          There is a reason that the frenzy around Ocasio-Cortez comes at the same time that conservatives spent near a week railing against Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for calling the president a motherfucker, despite Trump’s history of using vulgar language. It’s the same reason Louis C.K. is railing against kids these days and their pesky pronouns and why some men keep insisting that #MeToo has gone too far.

          Women — women of color, in particular — are amassing power across politics and culture, and those who have traditionally held that power are scared shitless.

          Their hatred for Ocasio-Cortez, just like their pushback against #MeToo and the feminist movement, is a thin veil over what they really think, which is: How dare they. How dare women have the power to shape legislation? How dare they have the power to say no to sexual advances? How dare they hold men accountable?

          But they can’t say those things, not out loud anyway — not without being taken to task. So instead, conservatives mock. And diminish. And discredit.

          The good news is that this strategy seems to be failing. Ocasio-Cortez is well-versed enough in misogyny — and social media — that she’s been able to effectively push back on the smears, and if the new members of Congress are any indication, Americans are eager for younger, more diverse leadership.

          The backlash is nasty and cruel, and I have no doubt that as 2020 approaches it will get even worse. But the more conservatives attack the women who represent the future of politics in this country, the more they reveal themselves as afraid. I, for one, am betting on the future.

          Jessica Valenti

          1. Doug Ross

            You lost me at misogyny. That word is so overused now it is meaningless. Nobody is scared of AOC. Nobody hates her because she is a woman.

            Many (like me) just recognize that she is inexperienced and lacking in any intellectual rigor to her idealistic fantasies. What in the world would qualify her to come up with a plan to change the economic, medical, and political structure of the United States? Her bartending?

            It’s funny to watch Democrats defend her like Republicans defended Palin. She was telegenic too. AOC will crash and burn on her own, not because of phony claims of misogyny.

            1. Doug Ross

              Bud says Democrats are not in disarray. Here is Nancy “Misogynist” Pelosi on 60 Minutes this week:
              From fitsnews…

              Tensions are simmering, too. In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Pelosi dismissed Ocasio-Cortez – saying her “wing” of the party was comprised of “like five people.”

              Pelosi added that the brand of socialism being advanced by Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and others on the far left “is not the view of the Democratic party.”

              “I do reject socialism as an economic system,” Pelosi said. “If people have that view, that’s their view. That is not the view of the Democratic Party.”

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