Cornyn’s opponent in the Senate race, Air Force veteran MJ Hegar, replied by tweet: “Coward.”
Let’s unpack that, starting with Cornyn’s image of women as civilizers, cunningly trying to domesticate their spouses. It is the stuff of 1950s comedies. It’s a variety of “benevolent sexism” — something that seems like a compliment but is really a put-down and effort to assign women to their traditional role. It is what we saw in Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing, when Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) asked who does the laundry in her house. He wouldn’t have dreamed of asking a male nominee the same question.
Kennedy wasn’t much better than other Republicans on the committee who fawned over her for raising seven kids and working as a professor and then judge. There are millions of women holding more strenuous jobs than law professor or appellate judge (so where have Republicans been on child care?), but more to the point, her husband was sitting right there. Why assume she has primary responsibility for the kids?
All of these examples are of a piece with Republicans’ antiquated view of women. They are either “monsters” or “nasty,” as President Trump labeled Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), or they are saintlike — juggling laundry, raising kids and taming ill-behaved husbands. A party whose standard-bearer has systematically insulted, denigrated and threatened women (“Lock her up!” Trump’s crowd shouted about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who was the target of a kidnapping and murder plot) is heading for potentially devastating losses in large part because women have been fleeing the GOP since Trump was elected.
The other problem with Cornyn’s remarks — similar to those uttered by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) — is his resorting to the “I disagreed with him all along” defense of their capitulation to Trump at the expense of their constituents. There are two things wrong with this defense.
First, silent dissent does not count if you vote for Trump, defend his egregious action, vote to acquit him in trial and pretend you did not hear his racist insults and bullying tweets.
Second, it is not even true. Cornyn has practically never opposed Trump. He voted consistently against solutions and supported the wall, even going so far as to accede to Trump’s raiding the defense budget to pay for it (a position that a plurality of Texas voters opposed). In the interview with the Star-Telegram, he falsely said he opposed the move. Likewise, he voted to repeal Obamacare and supports the lawsuit to invalidate the entire law. He nevertheless now claims to support protections for preexisting conditions.
Cornyn may not be part of the raving MAGA crowd. But he has been a staunch and consistent Trump supporter, even if he refuses to admit it. He is part of the spineless Republican Senate who never had the nerve to stand up to Trump when it mattered most to his voters back home.
As Texas tips blue, Cornyn is in a nip-and-tuck race to keep his seat. Perhaps the women, suburban voters, seniors, Blacks and young people who have left the Republican Party will drive him from office. As with Trump, there is no changing Cornyn, so voters better kick him out if they want someone who is not afraid of the MAGA crowd.
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