When you make a misogynist joke, apologize to the nearest man

Preet Bharara said a thing.

“It’s hard not to be proud of John McCain.” Agreed. Whatever your politics.

Wellll, thought I. No. No it’s not. He chose Sarah Palin as his vice president. That means he chose her for president should he win the election and then die in office. That all by itself makes it not hard to refrain from being unmixedly proud of John McCain.

A friend pointed out another one, that I don’t think I was aware of. Ed Pilkington in the Guardian in September 2008 (two months before McCain lost to Obama):

Imagine the stink that would erupt were David Cameron to stand up in front of a dinner of rich Conservative backers and make a “joke” that implied that Sarah Brown had had a lesbian affair with Jacqui Smith and produced a love child (and an ugly one to boot). Can you imagine British papers deciding to downplay the story because it was in such bad taste, allowing Cameron to carry on with his assault on Downing Street?

Cross the pond and that is exactly what happened to John McCain at a fundraising dinner in Arizona a decade ago. “Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly?” he told a handful of big Republican funders. “Because Janet Reno is her father.”

Jesus. Misogyny much?

The remark packed into its 15 words several layers of misogyny. It disparaged the looks of Chelsea, then 18 and barely out of high school; it portrayed Reno as a man at a time when she was serving as the first female US attorney general; and it implied that Hillary Clinton was engaged in a lesbian affair while the Monica Lewinsky scandal was blazing. Not bad going, Senator McCain.

Any one of those elements would seem potentially terminal for a public figure. Yet here he is 10 years later presenting himself as a champion of feminism by appointing Sarah Palin as his running mate.

And according to Pilkington the US press barely touched it, which is why most of us didn’t know about it. (That was long before Twitter, of course…) They did him the favor of looking fixedly in the other direction. He still lost the election but he wasn’t outed for that shitty mean joke.

After his misogynist joke, McCain said sorry to Bill Clinton (though he made no direct apology to the three women involved) and the incident was all but forgotten.

Brilliant. He apologized to the bro but not to the women he actually taunted.

Whatever your politics, that’s shitty.

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