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Sunday, December 17, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Massachusetts Democratic senator was silenced at the arc of her speech.

Elizabeth Warren was silenced on the floor as if she were the village scold, her tongue bridled by the sheriff. It got uglier when they held an arcane vote — “the yeas and nays” — on whether she violated Senate rules. And she lost for being outspoken against a colleague, 49-43, late that night.

This never happens. It roiled the Senate’s calm seas. The majority leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., curtly cut Warren off for “impugning” a senator. Rule 19. No, she could not finish quoting the late Coretta Scott King on Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’ record (“reprehensible,” Mrs. King wrote) on voting and civil rights. A conservative Republican from Selma, Alabama, Sessions also opposed reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. But of course, President Trump nominated Sessions for attorney general. The 70-year-old was confirmed in a taut scene, 52-47.

Oh, brother — civil war is churning and burning. But sisters are stepping up to save the day. That’s what Trump hates most: when women judge, challenge, or dare to defy him — or get three million more votes on Election Day.

Spirited and subversive, Warren is the latest example of the new female-first pattern of “vive la resistance.” Women citizens first stood up to the Trump regime at the Women’s March on Washington, and elsewhere, on Jan. 21. This event blossomed from blowing grass roots, growing to the largest demonstration in the nation’s history.

On the culture front, actress Melissa McCarthy has “Saturday Night Live” viewers in tears of laughter at her sendup of Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary. Spicer’s rants, crude grasp of facts and “false claims,” as some put it, are almost too easy to ridicule. His hard face and mien mirror a younger Trump. The Washington Post reports Trump’s wrath at a woman taking such liberties, bless his heart. Unlike Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, who charmed with their wit, he has zero humor. Spicer’s days on the job may be numbered.

“Vive la resistance” showed up in the Senate on another furiously fought Cabinet vote, after an all-nighter. The only two Republicans (out of 52) to vote against the astonishing Betsy DeVos for secretary of education were women.

Here was a brazen billionaire who made it her mission to undermine public schools. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska made the DeVos vote a 50-50 tie, which Vice President Mike Pence broke. A deadlock hardly ever happens. And you can count the Republican women on one hand.

Even more impressive was the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, who bravely set in motion Trump’s attack against the judiciary. Remember her early stand against the travel ban on seven Muslim majority countries? Seems long ago. Yates refused to go along and ordered Justice Department lawyers not to defend it. The writing on the wall was clear: unconstitutional. Protests at airports ensued as word got round that weekend. Yates maddened Trump so much that he fired her within hours.

If this were Henry VIII’s court, Yates would be taken to the tower.

The first judges to hear the case on the cruel travel ban and issue emergency rulings, restraining orders, and stays on deportations were all women, too. That is looking at the looming power in the eye and protecting the rule of law in our democracy — fragile as it is right now.

An awakening is in the air after a deeply wrong election, which the loser won. Trump has insulted so many people that they’ve joined the collective resistance women started.

The zeitgeist is on display at the Folger Theatre. The most complex female role in all of Shakespeare, sprightly Rosalind in “As You Like it,” is playing onstage, within shouting distance of the Capitol and Supreme Court. As it happens, like McCarthy’s Spicer, the character crosses the gender line in riveting ways.

Women are breaking their silence in the square. Young women now say they are more likely to run for office. Hurry! There are only 21 women in the Senate. Even for the eloquent Elizabeth, it didn’t come easy.

Vive la resistance.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.