I’ve already thoroughly deconstructed Rep. Dave Reichert’s childish “joke” about Hillary Clinton falling to her death from an airplane, but I’ve got a couple more observations that I think are worth discussing, the first of which was first raised in a press release from Darcy Burner spokesman Sandeep Kaushik:
“When Congressman Reichert goes before non-partisan audiences he likes to bemoan the loss of civility and lack of bipartisanship in Washington, D.C. Apparently he does not really mean it, because when he gets before his fellow Republicans he takes a very different tone — this is just the latest unfortunate example of that.”
Of course Reichert’s civility campaign is total bullshit, and if editorialists and other opinion makers don’t see this, it is because they choose not to. Remember, this is the same guy who compared Democrats to the Green River Killer:
“And in America how hard is it to put my arm around a Democrat if I can put my arm around Gary Ridgeway.”
That’s civility? That’s bipartisanship? That’s conscience-driven independence?
Like Mike McGavick before him, Reichert’s emphasis on civility and bipartisanship is little more than a strategy to avoid talking about actual issues, an honest debate of which would overwhelmingly favor Burner. It is also implicitly (and hypocritically) a negative attack on his opponent, as one cannot accept Reichert’s civility meme without inferring that Burner is not sufficiently civil herself.
The other observation I’d like to make refers back to my original post, and my assertion that at least part of the humorous impact of the the “joke” comes from playing off of a popular perception of the object of ridicule as stupid:
Deserved or not, this works well with President Bush in the lead role (as it would for Dave Reichert himself), but whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, she certainly doesn’t have a reputation for being dumb, and as such, the joke comes off more mean spirited than funny. It’s just a poor vehicle for ridiculing her.
What is curious is that Reichert should apparently believe that Clinton in any way fits the stereotype on which the punchline is at least partially predicated. It is ironic that a man with a two-year degree from an obscure Christian college, and an undistinguished career in Congress, would impugn the intelligence of an accomplished woman who graduated from one of the top colleges and top law schools in the nation. But it is not without precedent.
This has always been the Reichert camp’s most consistent critique of Darcy Burner—that she is “ditzy” and a “lightweight”—a critique that comprised the main theme of what was perhaps Reichert’s most offensive (and effective) ad of the 2006 season. And as with his characterization of Clinton, it is equally ironic when applied to a woman like Burner, who graduated Harvard University with a B.A. in computer science and economics, and who went on to become a high-level manager at Microsoft. Apparently, Reichert and his most vocal supporters need little more evidence to snidely dismiss the intelligence of a woman than her gender.
I won’t hazard a guess as to how else Reichert objectifies women (though his staunch opposition to reproductive rights is highly suggestive), but clearly, when it comes to the political arena, he views them as objects of ridicule.