John Kelly Has Problem With 'Arrogant Woman' Liz Warren, Or Maybe Just Women In General
An assload of John Kelly's private emails recently went public, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, and one email in particular reveals Kelly behaving like a sexist ass. Kelly, then serving as the secretary of Homeland Security, typed angry words to a top aide following a phone call with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. She'd apparently nagged him so relentlessly about Donald Trump's definitely-not-a-Muslim ban that his testicles were hanging on by a thread.
"Absolutely most insulting conversation I have ever had with anyone," Kelly [...] wrote to Kevin Carroll, who was then his senior counselor at the Department of Homeland Security, in an email from Feb. 8, 2017. "What an impolite arrogant woman. She immediately began insulting our people accusing them of not following the court order, insulting and abusive behavior towards those covered by the pause, blah blah blah."
Yeesh! Who wants to pay $5 for the first minute and $1 each additional minute for that? Except this wasn't a "social" call. It was serious government business. Warren gave some background Thursday on the events leading up to the call. She was trying to get answers from the DHS regarding their policy of, as the senator describes it, "illegally detaining Massachusetts residents (and their family members) at Boston Logan Airport." If you've spent any time at Logan, you appreciate how inhuman this was.
The answers Warren sought weren't forthcoming because Kelly wouldn't answer calls or emails. It's worth noting that Warren is a US senator. It's not like she was some random Liz from Brookline trying to get "Hamilton" tickets. When she finally got Kelly on the phone, Warren asked for a direct number to reach him. There's only so many fingers and toes she can paint in her office while the hold music just repeats the chorus of "Rocket Man." Kelly brushed her off -- he didn't have time for no clinging vines -- and literally just told her to use the main line listed on the Department of Homeland Security's website. Again, Warren was elected by a clear majority, Mr. "I Work For the Guy Who Lost the Popular Vote." Then Kelly just starts gaslighting the senator.
Even worse, [Kelly] bizarrely insisted that I'd made the whole thing up and we'd never tried to reach him in the first place. I happened to be looking at the emails between his staff and my staff when he said this, so I started reading them to him. He accused me again of making it all up.
My policy staffers were in the room. And to this day, I've never seen so many jaws drop in unison. It was one of the first times we saw "alternative facts" so up close and personal.
So, in review, Warren was doing her job. Kelly was half-assing his way through his. Obviously, Kelly's going to spin this as Warren's fault, especially since Warren won the test of wills. And men like Kelly hate "losing to a girl." Warren persisted and eventually ended the call not just with Kelly's office number but his personal cell number.
It's not exactly news that Kelly has an issue with women who step out of the very thin line in which he's determined they should reside. He publicly slimed Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Awesome Hats) because she dared speak the truth. Worse, he tried to mask his misogyny with some wistful nonsense about how back in the day, we used to treat our womenfolk so well.
When I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That's obviously not the case anymore, as we see from recent cases.
I think those "recent cases" might include Kelly insulting a grown-ass woman senator to his fellow He-Man Woman Haters Club member. That happened just months before his silly speech on the sacredness of women who act like Daisy Buchanan (and are moderately better drivers). He'd later yell at Kamala Harris for asking him questions instead of giving him a Scotch and a backrub.
Trump called Hillary Clinton a "nasty woman" on national TV, so in comparison, Kelly dismissing Warren as an "arrogant woman" might seem like something from "Masterpiece" on PBS. But women and men of color are frequently called "arrogant" as if white men are the only ones entitled to self-possession and determination. It starts early, too. I was barely into my teens when a teacher spat the word at me. I don't recall the circumstance, just the bitterness and anger in her face.
"Arrogance" is almost always associated with an untoward ambition from women. Carroll, when soothing Kelly's bruised ego, responded true to form.
"Too bad Senate Majority Leader McConnell couldn't order her to be quiet again! Warren is running for president so early, trying too hard, and chasing bad pitches."
Yeah, such a shame the other old white guy couldn't have helped put Warren in her place. Carroll also can't conceive that Warren was going to the mat for her constituents because that's her current job and she actually cares. No, it's all for "show" so Warren can lead a news cycle and get a #ShesRunning hashtag trending.
Perhaps this can officially end the theory among both the Right and Left that Hillary Clinton was a uniquely unpopular candidate. Men will likely demonize any smart, take-no-prisoners woman who dares command authority and demand respect. But nevertheless, Warren, Dianne Feinstein, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar among so many others will continue to persist.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.