Surprise: Old white man-senators show signs of sexism, racism

Shockingly, old white male senators are attacking a woman of color in a powerful position. The men in question are Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain. And the woman they’re attacking is U.N. ambassador Susan Rice. John “I’m still bitter about losing to Obama” McCain said Rice is “not qualified” to become secretary of state and described her comments on Benghazi as “not being very bright.” Lindsey “Republicans are not generating enough angry white guys” Graham said he was “dead-set on making sure” Rice doesn’t become secretary of state and called her response “so disconnected to reality I don’t trust her…. And the reason I don’t trust her is because I think she knew better, and if she didn’t know better she shouldn’t be the voice of America.”

But some brave congresswomen came to Rice’s defense and called out Graham and McCain at a news conference on Friday led by led by Reps. Gwen Moore (WI), Marcia L. Fudge (OH), Karen Bass (CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (Del-District of Columbia) and Terri Sewell (AL). Rep Holmes Norton opened the conference:

We do not intend to stand by while Ambassador Susan Rice, who had nothing to do with the Benghazi attack and its aftermath, is made the scapegoat of the tragedy because she relayed to the public the only official intelligence that was available to the administration at the time.  The rush to judgment against the Ambassador is particularly unprofessional and reckless, considering that the intelligence irrefutably documents her public remarks.  We will not allow a brilliant public servant’s record to be mugged, to cut off her consideration to become Secretary of State.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, the next chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus said, “[A]ll of the things they have disliked about things that have gone on in the administration, they have never called a male unqualified, not bright, not trustworthy….There is a clear sexism and racism that goes with these comments being made by unfortunately Sen. McCain and others.” Fudge doesn’t deny anyone their right to disagree with Rice. She finds the personal and belittling attacks problematic, and rightly so: “How do you say a person like Susan Rice is not qualified? You may not like her, you may not like the administration, but don’t say she’s not qualified. She is the most qualified person I’m sure that any of you know, that these senators know. . . . It is a shame that any time anything goes wrong, they pick on women and minorities.”

Rep. Gwen Moore added, “[t]o batter this woman because they don’t feel they have the ability to batter President Obama is something we the women are not going to stand by and watch….Their feckless and reckless speculation is unworthy of their offices as senators.”

As many have pointed out, John McCain wasn’t that picky about qualifications when he named Sarah Palin his running mate. And if you’re going to attack any Rice for being unqualified to be secretary of state, you may want to start with the one named Condoleezza. You know, the one who claimed that a presidential daily briefing  (pdb) entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States” contained “historical information” and was “not a ‘threat report.'” The Rice who actually said, “The PDB does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says Bin Laden would like to attack the United States.” Now that is an example of  a Rice who shouldn’t be qualified or trusted to be secretary of state.

More videos from the news conference are after the jump.


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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