As my colleague Bonchie reported earlier, the mainstream media predictably pivoted to “mansplaining” excuses Wednesday night in an effort to explain Sen. Kamala Harris’s weak vice presidential debate performance against VP Mike Pence.
One of the supposedly “objective” media figures who invoked the woman card in defense of Harris was, of course, ABC News chief anchor and Clinton alum George Stephanopoulos. He used the word in response to remarks made by Obama alum and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) about how Pence “attacking” Harris and debate moderator Susan Page was supposedly not a good look:
During the network’s post-debate analysis, former Chicago mayor and ABC News analyst Rahm Emanuel highlighted President Trump’s deficit among women voters and claimed the image of Pence “attacking” Harris and moderator Susan Page would only worsen the GOP’s standing among the female electorate.
[Stephanopoulos said] “Because obviously, Mike Pence is a former television commentator, does have a very calm demeanor, but I think that a lot of people were noticing some ‘mansplaining’ going on tonight.”
ABC's George Stephanopoulos:
"A lot of people were noticing some mansplaining going on tonight."
Let me explain something. Sexism would be if Pence didn’t treat Kamala the way he’d treat a man and yes, he would’ve jumped in to call out a man’s lie too. 🙄pic.twitter.com/db8iqOjmaR
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) October 8, 2020
As someone who has watched female politicians be infantilized by comments like that many times over in the past (as though a woman cannot speak for herself and as though Pence would have treated a man differently), I was very pleasantly surprised to read/watch his ABC News colleague Martha Raddatz absolutely destroy this Democratic talking point in response:
“When I hear people talk about mansplaining, and talk about these things with Kamala Harris, and a man shouldn’t interrupt her, and it’s going to look bad,” Raddatz replied. “Kamala Harris is a vice presidential candidate, she should be able to stand up for herself.”
“Yes, it’s history-making; yes, you can talk about her history and who she is and she’s a woman of color there,” she added. “But a man can interrupt another vice presidential candidate. It is up to that candidate to talk back, to interrupt themselves, or to hold on to that debate in any way they could.”
Watch Raddatz, who appears to be barely suppressing her irritation, nuke Stephanopoulos and Emanuel both below:
After a number of laments on ABC that Pence was "mansplaining" to Kamala Harris, Martha Raddatz stepped in to strongly object to this, saying "Harris is a vice presidential candidate," so she's fair game to be interrupted, stand up for herself, and interrupt herself #VPDebate pic.twitter.com/hCbP6Fgicb
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) October 8, 2020
Instead of responding to her point, Stephanopoulos – displaying a slight grin – handed over the segment to a female panelist, because of course he did.
Raddatz’s point cannot be emphasized enough.
We’re now at the point in American political history where women are being elected to political office at all levels of government with regularity in both Democratic and Republican parts of the country. A woman has been a presidential nominee. Women have been serving in important official roles in the highest levels of presidential administrations going back decades. Women have been Justices on the Supreme Court since the days of President Reagan.
It is time – LONG PAST time – to dispense with the idea that female public figures have to be treated like delicate snowflakes who can’t handle themselves in the presence of a man who might know more about and present himself better on the subject being discussed than they do.
Joe Biden continuously interrupted Paul Ryan during the 2012 VP debates and not one person talked about “mansplaining” in the aftermath. And no one was talking about “mansplaining” after Trump and Biden went after each other during the presidential debate.
Nobody was talking about mansplaining after those debates, because that’s how political arguments often go. Heated, fired up, people passionately making their cases to the American people. Yes, sometimes people get overheated and talk over each other but that is the nature of the political beast.
Pence was much more restrained in contrast to those debates, held his own, and spoke up when need be last night during the VP debate. To suggest him doing so boiled down to “mansplaining” to both Harris and Page is highly insulting and demeaning, and offensive to strong women everywhere.
For the sake of the future female leaders of America as well as actual substantive debates and discussions about the issues, this cheap, commonly used Democrat tactic has simply got to stop.