Reprinted with permission from Creators.
All these years — 61 and counting — and not once have I been associated with a mob.
This is exhilarating.
“Harassing members at their homes,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told The New York Times, “crowding the halls with people acting horribly, the effort to humiliate us…”
He was referring to survivors of sexual assault and their supporters, the majority of them women, trying to appeal to Republican senators’ better angels, who flew the coop some time ago.
Brett Kavanaugh, the raging partisan nominee for the Supreme Court, was confirmed. Republican senators, McConnell proudly declared, “stood up to the mob.”
It’s the new GOP meme for men who have no idea what a meme is.
“They have encouraged mob rule,” Sen. Chuck Grassley said on the Senate floor.
“Americans outside the Beltway don’t take kindly to … a paid mob trying to prevent senators from doing the will of their constituents,” Sen. Orrin Hatch said. There is no evidence that any protesters were paid, but he said it anyway because he liked the lie.
Speaking of Donald Trump, he showed up at a rally in Kansas and brayed, “In their quest for power, the radical Democrats have turned into an angry mob. You saw that today with the screaming and the shouting.”
Screaming and shouting — where have we heard that before?
Iowa, that’s where.
At that rally, Trump delighted in the crowd’s screaming and shouting, “Lock her up!” This time, they were referring not to Hillary Clinton but to Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Apparently, any over-60 “her” will do. I can’t tell you how much that thrills 61-year-old me. Who knew we could be so scary? I’ve got goose pimples of power popping up all over me.
“Chasing senators down the hall,” Rep. Peter King groused.
Ouch. How many times have I chased Ohio’s senior senator down the hall for a kiss goodbye? He’s my husband, but still. Think of the optics.
Not you. Me, I mean.
GOP operative Karl Rove, of all people, offered the teeniest of reprimands: “The mob is a useful thing to talk about,” he told The Washington Post, “but it’s more important to say the Democrats fundamentally broke the process.”
This from the man who, in 2001, told The New Yorker, “As people do better, they start voting like Republicans — unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing.”
Now, if you were Trump, you’d say, “I love the poorly educated,” which is what he did say during the 2016 campaign. He was flanked onstage by his two eldest sons, who grinned like the bobbleheads in my car’s back window — if they really existed, which they don’t. The bobbleheads, I mean. Don’t want to get your hopes up here.
McConnell claims the protesters helped unify his base of what passes for Republicans these days. “I want to thank these clowns for all the help they provided.”
That is a foam prop too far.
Immediately, I thought of my friend Jackie. She has feared clowns all her life. We never figured out why until Mitch McConnell called survivors of sexual assault and their supporters clowns.
As we talked, we realized that Jackie’s earliest experience with a clown came after her mother gave her a Weary Willie doll, modeled on Emmett Kelly’s clown character. For those of you unfamiliar with Weary Willie, he is a sad clown. Morbidly sad. All he ever does is frown.
Now, imagine you are a child sharing a bedroom with woeful Weary Willie.
“He was in the dark, Con,” Jackie told me in her ghost-story voice. “Next to my bed. I was 3.”
“Jack!” I shouted. “Weary Willie is the reason you fear clowns!”
Quite the epiphany. Thank you, Mitch McConnell. We can’t wait to tell her wife.
“You should be a therapist,” Jackie said.
Mobster. Clown crisis counselor. I can barely keep up with these new career opportunities.
Jackie and I ended our conversation by belting out our now-favorite verse of Judy Collins’ Send in the Clowns:
Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear.
I thought that you’d want what I want. Sorry, my dear.
But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns.
Don’t bother. They’re here.
Never mind this mob of survivors of sexual assault and their supporters, McConnell said. “These things always blow over.”
OK, Dorothy. Keep pretending you don’t hear these high winds howling around you.
Just make sure you don’t look to your left.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (firstname.lastname@example.org) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.