Democrats can justifiably boast of the important women who rose from their ranks. Nellie Taylor Ross was the first female governor in American history, elected in 1924 in Wyoming. The list goes on to include Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris, each of whom notched up important firsts in politics for women.
But the Republicans can lay claim to their own powerhouse women. In 1854, there were three women present at the schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin, when the idea of a new anti-slavery party, which would become the Republican party, was initially discussed. As a reform party, it attracted leading activist women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton from the suffragist movement, perhaps one of the first political incidents of what we now call intersectionality.
They also have Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress in 1916. She introduced legislation that would ultimately become the 19th Amendment. Margaret Chase Smith was elected to the Senate in 1948 after serving eight years in the lower chamber, becoming the first woman to hold office in both. Her 1948 campaign slogan was “Don’t change a record for a promise,” and that’s still a pretty good one. She was an early critic of Joseph McCarthy and became the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for the presidency by a major party in 1964.
Elizabeth Dole has a list of credentials that rival that of Hillary Clinton. The widow of Senator Robert Dole worked in every presidential administration from Johnson to the first Bush. When her husband won the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1996, Elizabeth Dole left the podium to give her speech, walking into the audience, and leaving many to think the Republicans were running the wrong Dole. Ironically, she ended her political career after serving in the Senate with, you guessed it, Hillary Clinton.
The distaff face of the Republican party these days does not belong to one who is in line with her predecessors. Marjorie Taylor Greene, notable for many things which have nothing to do with native intelligence or intellectual curiosity, doubled down this week on the need for a “national divorce.” The details and the blowback of such insanity will be left to those who need to fill airtime on cable news shows.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is not simply tolerating Greene for his own political purposes; he has actually elevated her and given her the committee assignments she requested, increasing her influence and amplifying her voice. The New York Times reports him as saying to a friend, “I will never leave that woman…I will always take care of her.” A strange choice of words to use about his recently divorced colleague, I should think, to say the very least.
Another Georgia woman, but not a Republican, has been getting her share of national attention this week. Emily Kohrs, the forewoman of the Fulton County grand jury associated with the investigation into Donald Trump, gave interviews to several news outlets. Her affirming that the jury had recommended indictments for at least a dozen people on a potential range of charges has put the legal beagles of cable news on overdrive. And it hasn’t been pretty.
The response has ranged from patronizing her for having “little experience talking to members of the journalistic estate” to dismissive for being “just comic relief” to derisive by referring to Ms. Kohrs as the “blabbermouth juror.” Media and legal elites seemed intent on making their small point by obviously punching down, snitching on themselves through their condescension by missing the greater point entirely.
Whatever Ms. Kohrs motivation for talking to the press and regardless of how unsettling her demeanor might be to some while doing it, I couldn’t care less. She gave us a little bit more information than we had previously and described in seemingly honest and transparent terms (up to a point) the reaction of a rather ordinary person being called upon to participate in an extraordinary circumstance.
If any part of her reason for speaking out was based on frustration, either expressed or suppressed, I could certainly understand it. District Attorney Fani Willis said that her charging decisions in this case were “imminent,” but that was a month ago. To all of us plebeian types outside the legal community, that word means “happening soon.” Could anyone other than a lawyer argue that imminent means more than a month from now?
It took about two years of planning and preparation to execute the storming of the beaches at Normandy on D-Day. Are we to believe that Fani Willis and Attorney General Merrick Garland, for that matter, need more time than Eisenhower and Montgomery had before storming the beach at Mar-a-Lago?