Last week was filled with Chris Christie fat jokes. This week, Sen. Scott Brown was the target of Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's joke about Brown's nude photos from college.
Brown posed for the pictures to help pay for his schooling, but during the Massachusetts Senate debate earlier this week, the moderator reminded everyone of the issue, and asked Warren what she had done to pay for college. She joked, "I kept my clothes on." Yesterday when Brown was asked about the remark, he responded, "Thank God." When Warren made the joke, no one cared. When Brown joked back, he was called a sexist.
Despite far more sexist jokes at the expense of conservative women from liberals, Brown's rebuttal to Warren has been the only cause for concern.
"Sen. Brown's comments are the kind of thing you would expect to hear in a frat house, not a race for US Senate," Clare Kelly, executive director of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, said in a widely-reported statement. "Scott Brown's comments send a terrible message that even accomplished women who are held in the highest esteem can be laughingly dismissed based on their looks."
A minority of the media reject at sexism against conservative women, though. MSNBC's Ed Schultz called Laura Ingraham a "right-wing slut" and a "talk slut." Bill Maher said Ann Coulter and Ingraham were only invited on his show as his "foils." WaPo columnist Colby King called Michele Bachmann, "Barbie with fangs." Doonesbury made sexist breast jokes about Sarah Palin and Bachmann.
In this double standard of politics, it is fine for a liberal, in this case, Warren, to make a joke at the expense of a conservative's appearance, in this case, Brown's looks in college, but when the conservative fights back, it is reason for outrage.
Despite very rarely, and then only half-heartedly, defending remarks made against conservative women, according to Politico, a number of feminist groups are infuriated by Brown's two-word utterance against Warren.
“This is the kind of sexist misogynistic attack that we have very sadly come to expect from politicians whenever there is a strong woman who is capable and really dedicated to the betterment of all the people,” Terry O’Neill, president of National Organization for Women, told POLITICO. […]
“Scott Brown’s comments are insensitive at best, offensive at worst, and just show the only thing he really cares about is Scott Brown,” [EMILY's List deputy communication director Jess] McIntosh said. “Whether he resigns or gets voted out of office in November, Massachusetts women deserve better than Scott Brown, and they have an excellent candidate in Elizabeth Warren.”
As explained at Ace, "If Warren were a guy who looked like Ted Kennedy and Brown said the same thing no one would care." After a week of Christie fat jokes, Christie responded, "It's not a newsflash to me that I'm overweight." Personal attacks are just part of political campaigns today.
There are always negative attacks and jokes that cross the line in campaigns, but if one side is going to be making them, then the other side should be able to make them too, and not be treated differently for it. A set of rules that only applies when off-color remarks are made by conservatives about liberal women is not exemplary of equal treatment. Jim Barnett, Brown's campaign manager, wrote in an email to Politico, "It’s elitist of Professor Warren to look down at the decisions Scott Brown made to put himself through college and rise above the circumstances of his life. Scott has fought and scraped for everything he’s got."