After the obscene four years this country has endured thanks to the Trump administration and its Republican supporters, should anyone really be forced to practice decorum when talking about those, well, fuckers?
Apparently some think so, because Jen O’Malley Dillon, President-Elect Joe Biden’s campaign manager and incoming White House deputy chief of staff, is getting some major backlash after using the word “fuckers” to refer to Republicans. In a recent interview with Glamour, while O’Malley Dillon was making a case for trying to work with Republicans as they attempt to hijack national politics, she used the word “fuckers” to refer to them, and that’s all that seemed to register with anyone.
“The president-elect was able to connect with people over this sense of unity,” O’Malley Dillon said. “In the primary, people would mock him, like, ‘You think you can work with Republicans?’ I’m not saying they’re not a bunch of fuckers. Mitch McConnell is terrible. But this sense that you couldn’t wish for that, you couldn’t wish for this bipartisan ideal? He rejected that. From start to finish, he set out with this idea that unity was possible, that together we are stronger, that we, as a country, need healing, and our politics needs that too.”
Some close Biden advisors were reportedly frustrated over her choice of words, according to Axios, and some big donors apparently want O’Malley Dillon to apologize, to Biden — and perhaps also to congressional Republicans. “For those of us who, from Day One, bought into Biden’s calls for civility and a return to normalcy, this isn’t just beyond the pale — it’s plain stupid,” said one Biden donor.
Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio and other Republicans took advantage of the moment to score cheap political points. “Biden talks about unity and healing, but you want to know what they really think?” Rubio tweeted. “Read how the person he wants as the next WH deputy chief of staff called Republicans in Congress a bunch of f***ers.” Public figures including MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace swiftly pointed out his hypocrisy.
Are we really talking about the f word in any context other than the f-ing people who stood by Trump as he boasted about “grabbing women in the pussy”, smeared “shit hole countries” called black NFL players “sons of bitches” and assaulted our democracy while ignoring covid?
— Nicolle Wallace (@NicolleDWallace) December 17, 2020
If you read the entire Glamour article, which we doubt many of O’Malley Dillon’s detractors have, you’ll understand the context of her message: It’s about her wish to get things done with colleagues whom she may not respect or agree with, for the sake of fixing the brokenness of this country, particularly the tragic economic aftermath of COVID. “I think, more than not, people want to see impact,” she told Glamour. “They want to see us moving in a path forward. They want to do their work, get paid a fair share, have time for themselves and their family, and see each other as neighbors. And this overhang of this negative, polarized electorate that politics has created is the thing that I think we can break down.”
Frankly — given many Republicans’ lockstep following of Trump’s dangerous nationalist agenda, refusal to even see vast swaths of the American electorate as people, and the fact that many of them still refuse to acknowledge that Biden won the election, or refused to acknowledge it until recently — it’s perfectly reasonable for people to disagree with the spirit of her message at this point in time.
What’s not reasonable is tone-policing O’Malley Dillon, or asking her to apologize to anyone. The first woman to manage a successful Democratic presidential campaign, all while taking care of three children and learning that her father was diagnosed with cancer, she owes exactly zero people an apology, and many of her supporters rightly pointed out that if she were a man, her choice of language would not be on anyone’s radar. Those Democrats who say that her words will somehow get in the way of the “unity” and “healing” they’re after have apparently never met a Republican. Republicans will choose whether or not to work with Democrats at exactly the times when it is convenient for them, regardless of f-bombs in interviews. They will continue to do what’s in their own self-interest (and also curse liberally while at it), like protect companies who put their employees at risk for COVID, campaign for Senate on keeping racist baseball team names, and stand behind Trump as he sputters out of control after Biden’s win.
Unfortunately, many who criticized O’Malley Dillon’s words also missed the nuanced point she seemed to be making that while “unity” and “healing” are wonderful things, the reality is that some people in Congress — particularly if Mitch McConnell stays in power — are just not going to go for that. Unity and healing might involve playing some hardball. So, hearing O’Malley Dillon refuse to pretend that all Republicans are worthy of respect after what they’ve put us through feels liberating. Her point, whether you agree or not, seems to be that you don’t have to respect or like your colleagues to negotiate for things that American people need — and that point is not made often enough. The fact that she called them fuckers? She might have been a tad too kind.
As someone who talks like a truck driver, I think swearing– while not ideal–is about 1,000 notches below undermining democracy, embracing white supremacists, and withholding COVID relief. I am team @jomalleydillon 100%. She is on the side of angels and gets sh*t done.
— ilyseh (@ilyseh) December 16, 2020
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