Bernie Sanders isn’t alone in wondering if a woman can be elected president of the United States. I’ve wondered the same thing. I’ve said the same thing: I don’t think a woman can be elected president.
I think Hillary Clinton’s loss had an enormous amount to do with her being a woman, with the sexism from the right and the left so thick sometimes it made my eyes water. Her defeat depressed me so much that it called into question what might be a fundamental truth about my fellow Americans – they can’t bring themselves to vote for a woman. Oh, they hide it pretty well. But those of us who grew up in the swamp of sexism can smell all the creatures who live there from 5,000 miles away.
So Elizabeth Warren says that Bernie expressed his view that a woman couldn’t be elected president. And then ensued a media happy dance about Bernie’s apparent sexism which I thought was nuts because I have thought the same thing. Such a statement can represent astute political judgment – like mine and Bernie’s – as much as sexist determinism.
So I was ready to let Bernie off the hook.
But then he said it never happened. He stood right next to Elizabeth Warren last night on the debate stage and he said he never said it. He didn’t say he was misunderstood. He didn’t apologize if anyone was offended. He flat out said it didn’t happen. He basically called Elizabeth Warren a liar or, more accurately, a hyper-sensitive, overly emotional girl who got herself riled up over an imaginary slight. Nothing she said was true. Only what he said was true.
It was a master class in marginalizing a woman. But in this case, the woman was his longstanding friend, a fellow United States Senator, a woman of substance and character. But it didn’t matter. He couldn’t apologize, couldn’t acknowledge, no. He had to be right.
Bernie Sanders reminded us that the sexism he denies having is just as robust as it ever was, it’s just hidden until he’s poked. And he got poked last night and the sexist bullshit came flowing out of him like pus from an abscess. No wonder she wouldn’t shake his hand.