Newsweek: Debbie Wasserman Schultz Won't Apologize for Blaming Tea Party for Giffords Shooting

In a Monday profile of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz headlined "Obama's Bodyguard," Newsweek's Howard Kurtz reminded readers how she outraged conservatives by suggesting the shooting of her friend Gabby Giffords showed how "the discourse in America" had taken "a very precipitous turn towards edginess and a lack of civility with the growth of the Tea Party movement.” Kurtz added “Wasserman Schultz makes no apologies. Nibbling a sandwich in her House office, she says: ‘I make strongly worded statements so people pay attention a little to what I’m saying.’”

If they don’t pay enough attention to her little outrages, she skips their show. “The congresswoman appears periodically on Fox News, although she boycotts some hosts, such as Neil Cavuto, who she feels keep talking over her.”  Kurtz began by peering in at the congresswoman in a ladies’ bathroom:

The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee is running late, prepping for an MSNBC interview while she brushes her tangled mass of blonde curls in the bathroom, a top adviser hovering behind her. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, dabbing on blue eye shadow, dismisses a suggestion that she call Newt Gingrich the “godfather of gridlock”...

Party chairs are usually backstage fundraisers, but Wasserman Schultz is a nonstop broadcaster for Team Obama, sometimes delivering her points in robotic fashion. Her situation can be awkward, as the president’s survival may depend on running against her fellow lawmakers, who resent being cast as part of a dysfunctional body. She tries to wish that away, saying: “I don’t think the president means Democrats when he’s criticizing Congress.”

Kurtz portrayed the DNC chair as a busy working mother, even daring to notice her eight-year-old’s criticism as too busy. He didn’t go so far as to note her declaration on the House floor last Wednesday that “no matter what we argue about here on this floor or in this country, there is nothing more important than family and friendship...and that should be held on high above anything else, and I will always carry that in my heart.”

That clashes with Kurtz’s reporting:

Wasserman Schultz is regularly torn between work and her home, located in a gated community outside Ft. Lauderdale, where she lives with her husband, three children, four dogs, and a cat. At 6:30 on a Monday morning, in a T-shirt and sweats, she’s threading pink shoelaces for her 8-year-old daughter, Shelby, trying to keep her on schedule (“Hustle, please”) and offering dietary guidance (“You can’t just have a doughnut for breakfast”). When the congresswoman promises a daylong outing, Shelby is skeptical: “Are you going to clear a whole day? No phone? No texting?” she says, mock-typing with her thumbs.

Obama was drawn to “the fact that she’s a young mother and thinks about issues from that perspective,” says adviser David Axelrod. Wasserman Schultz’s manic schedule has slowed only once: she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, leading to seven operations and a double mastectomy. She kept it secret for a year, explaining: “It’s tough enough for my kids to deal with the fact that I’m not home.”

When I was in Florida, Wasserman Schultz welcomed Romney to the GOP primary there by declaring on a conference call that his candidacy was “cratering”—a call she made from the sidelines of Shelby’s soccer game.


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