Hat­ing the word ‘hate:’ Why it up­sets so many

Antelope Valley Press - - OPINION - Mau­reen Dowd

WASHINGTON — When peo­ple ask me about my work or com­ment on it, there is one word that al­ways makes me bris­tle. “Hate.”

When I wrote about Ge­orge W. Bush re­ly­ing on souped-up in­tel­li­gence to in­vade Iraq, peo­ple would ask, “Why do you hate W.?”

When I wrote about how Barack Obama was ham­pered as pres­i­dent by his dis­dain for pol­i­tick­ing, peo­ple would ask, “Why do you hate Obama?”

When I wrote about Hil­lary Clin­ton’s flaws as a can­di­date, peo­ple would ask, “Why do you hate Hil­lary?”

I hid my ir­ri­ta­tion by mak­ing a joke: “I don’t hate politi­cians. I save strong emo­tions like that for my ex-boyfriends.”

But I’ve thought about the word “hate” a lot. Not, as Nancy Pelosi said, in re­la­tion to be­ing Catholic. But in re­la­tion to be­ing a woman.

The rea­son it up­set me was that it seemed like a way to un­der­cut le­git­i­mate con­cerns I had about the be­hav­ior of a pres­i­dent or would-be pres­i­dent by sug­gest­ing that strong emo­tions were cloud­ing my judg­ment. It’s not that they are do­ing some­thing wrong; it’s that you are an over­wrought fe­male.

It evoked the old trope that women are venge­ful and hys­ter­i­cal — a word de­rived from the Greek word for womb. (This is the same sex­ist trope Don­ald Trump played into when he re­but­ted my crit­i­cisms of him dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign by tweet­ing that I was “wacky” and “neu­rotic.”)

So I un­der­stood why re­porter James Rosen got un­der the speaker’s skin when he asked if her dec­la­ra­tion that the House would draw up im­peach­ment ar­ti­cles was in­spired by the ir­ra­tional rather than the ra­tio­nal.

She wore white but she saw red.

When Rosen asked, “Do you hate the pres­i­dent, Madam Speaker?” Pelosi wagged her fin­ger and re­torted, “I don’t hate any­body.”

With more to say, she strode back to the mi­cro­phones: “As a Catholic, I re­sent your us­ing the word ‘hate’ in a sen­tence that ad­dresses me. I don’t hate any­one. I was raised in a way that is a heart full of love and al­ways pray for the pres­i­dent.” Be­fore walk­ing off, she de­liv­ered the coup de grâce to a chas­tened Rosen: “So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”

Within the hour, the pres­i­dent had pre­dictably tweet-trashed her, say­ing she had “a ner­vous fit,” re­turn­ing to the thread­bare ca­nard of women as hys­ter­ics. He said he did not be­lieve that Pelosi prayed for him.

But she does. I talked to her about it in Au­gust, when she was still keep­ing im­peach­ment at bay, af­ter we vis­ited the chapel at Trin­ity Washington Univer­sity, where she went to col­lege.

She said that she prays for the pres­i­dent at night in her apart­ment in Ge­orge­town and in church on Sun­day. “The prayer,” she said, “is that God will open his heart to meet the needs of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

She said that she even com­plained to her pas­tor that her prayers were not work­ing.

“Maybe you’re not pray­ing hard enough,” the pri­est replied.

The last week was a tale of three tantrums: one jus­ti­fied, one un­jus­ti­fied and one just what we ex­pect.

Pelosi’s up­braid­ing was ef­fec­tive be­cause it wasn’t some­one whin­ing or feel­ing sorry for her­self. It was some­one lay­ing down the law — with­out wor­ry­ing that a man would la­bel her a vi­rago or har­ri­dan or ter­ma­gant. Ner­vous Nancy? Hardly. She was more like John Wayne, mi­nus the racism and colo­nial­ism.

In Iowa, mean­while, surly Joe Bi­den erupted at an 83-year-old re­tired farmer who brought up Hunter Bi­den’s nepo­tis­tic pay­day from a Ukrainian en­ergy com­pany. The farmer had his facts twisted, mis­tak­enly claim­ing that Bi­den had “sent” his son to work in Ukraine to sell “ac­cess” to the pres­i­dent.

Bi­den’s friend John McCain had a blaz­ing tem­per, but he set the tem­plate for how to han­dle an older Mid­west­ern voter who has the facts bol­lixed up — firmly but po­litely.

Bi­den’s out­burst — “You’re a damn liar, man,” he snapped — showed that he still thinks any questions about his son’s wind­falls while he was vice pres­i­dent are out of line — even though Hunter Bi­den him­self has ac­knowl­edged us­ing “poor judg­ment.”

It also showed that he has no an­swer for some­thing that’s bound to be a big part of the gen­eral cam­paign, since it is at the heart of the crazy Rudy-Donny con­spir­acy the­ory that pro­voked the im­peach­ment drive. If Bi­den can’t han­dle an 83-year-old re­tired farmer with­out los­ing his cool, how can he han­dle a 73-year-old pi­ranha?

With­hold­ing $400 mil­lion in mil­i­tary aid to a fledg­ing democ­racy un­der at­tack from Rus­sia is in a dif­fer­ent uni­verse than mak­ing a quick buck off the Washington in­flu­ence ma­chine. But that farmer is not the only voter who feels a lit­tle queasy about Bi­den not stop­ping his son from mak­ing a money grab in Ukraine while the vice pres­i­dent was push­ing the Ukraini­ans to be less cor­rupt.

Trump’s trans-At­lantic pout af­ter learn­ing that the other world lead­ers were caught on tape mock­ing him as pro­lix was typ­i­cal but still pa­thetic.

He brings to mind the para­dox of Cas­san­dra. Her gift was that she could see into the fu­ture, but her curse was that no one be­lieved her. Trump’s tri­umph is that he has sought at­ten­tion his whole life, and now he can com­mand all the at­ten­tion in the world. But his curse is that the at­ten­tion he at­tracts is largely ridicule and re­pul­sion.

For­tu­nately for the pres­i­dent, one per­son in Washington is pray­ing for him.

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