Here’s what happened: Elizabeth Warren is running against Scott Brown for the Massachusetts Senate seat. We all I know I have a big crush on her and that I’m contemplating moving back east just to vote for her (not really). At a Senate primary debate, the moderator mentioned that Brown had partially paid for law school by posing nude in Cosmopolitan and asked the candidates how they had afforded their educations. Elizabeth Warren joked, “I kept my clothes on.”
The next day, in response to Warren’s joke, Scott Brown said “Thank God!” on a morning talk show. This is how a firestorm starts.
People are all up on Scott Brown for denigrating the appearance of Elizabeth Warren, and yeah.. he kind of deserves it. It’s a fratty, sophomoric jab that undermines Warren’s qualifications by focusing attention on her looks. But, and it pains me to say this, Elizabeth Warren was kind of asking for it. The premise of the moderator’s stupid question was that paying for Brown’s education by very legal albeit potentially embarrassing methods is somehow relevant to Brown’s candidacy. It’s not. Elizabeth Warren knows it’s not, but she validated the premise of the question by distancing herself from Brown’s history with her “clothes on” joke. She’s way too smart for this crap.
Imagine the situation were reversed. A woman poses for Maxim in college to help foot the bills. 20+ years later, she runs for office much to the guffaws of her constituents. She wins. Four years later, a male opponent is asked about his college bills, and he says “I kept my clothes on.” Sexist, right? And irrelevant! We’d be up in arms! At least, I know I would.
The real villain in this scenario is whoever wrote that ridiculous question. If you’re trying to ask about the very real, tangible concern of the rising cost of college, then ask that. If you’re trying to understand the lengths that American families have to go to in order to put their kids through UMass, then ask that. Don’t dredge up this shit. It’s a waste of everybody’s time, and it condones the inclusion of personal, legal decisions that candidates made decades ago into their qualifications for office.
When Elizabeth Warren got that question, I wish she had taken the high road and skipped the joke. In fact, I wish the question hadn’t been asked. I wish that everyone in this scenario behaved like adults on whom rests the well being of real families and their communities. This is some high school bullshit, and I expect more of both of them.
Related Post: Why I don’t care who Sarah Palin banged in 1987.
Related Post: A note on why I don’t think sexual hypocrisy justifies the airing of private business.