Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) not only is one of the toughest and most persistent public critics of the Trump administration, she does it with a flair that has sparked social media hashtags and viral memes. Her quips in news conferences and on cable news have inspired women who feel pushed around to push back.
Her most recent tangle with a Trump cabinet member has generated all of that and more.
Last week, during a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, Waters, the ranking Democrat on the committee, asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin why he hadn’t responded to a letter she’d sent him in May requesting information about Trump’s financial ties to Russia. When Mnuchin responded by complimenting the congresswoman for her service to California, Waters chastised him for wasting her allotted time and urged him to answer the question. When he continued to dawdle, Waters responded, “Reclaiming my time.” She repeated the phrase — “Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time.” — until the committee chairman silenced Mnuchin.
The moment resulted in dozens of shout outs on social media, with women declaring the phrase to be the perfect retort to mansplaining. It also has inspired a gospel-style song by Mykal Kilgore.
As Kilgore explained in the preamble to his song: “Our beloved ‘Auntie’ Maxine Waters laid this sermon down so good that I had to sing about it! Whenever anybody tries to distract me or block me (even with praise or platitudes) I’m gonna have to let them know that I’m #ReclaimingMyTime!!!!!!!
Waters applauded the effort in a tweet Monday evening, telling Kilgore that the song was “Headed for the Grammys. Praises and thanks!”
Waters has been calling for Trump’s impeachment since shortly after he was sworn into office. This has made her a star among some in the sprawling anti-Trump resistance movement and has made her a target for attacks from the president’s supporters. When in March a former Fox News host disparaged her appearance because she had criticized Trump, her supporters came to her defense with the hashtag #BlackWomenatWork.
Not everyone was impressed by Waters’s use of House rules in her exchange with Mnuchin.
The conservative news website the Blaze headlined its report: “Unhinged liberal Maxine Waters goes off on Steve Mnuchin.”
Waters’s mic-dropping comments, eye-rolls and, on a few occasions, dramatic exits during interviews have earned her the nickname “Auntie Maxine” among millennials, who applaud her unapologetic stance against the Trump administration.
Yara Shahidi, the young star of ABC’s sitcom “Black-ish,” was among those inspired by Waters’s insistence on reclaiming her time.