Some years ago when my daughter Gayley was in preschool, her friend Niles would assume the characters of his favorite Saturday morning cartoon villains and terrorize his classmates, for whom the distinction between reality and television cartoons was not yet fully developed. Since we didn’t have a television back then, Gayley had no idea what Niles was doing; and when she told him to stop being so silly, he seemed relieved to drop his tough-guy facade and just be a four-year-old again.
I thought of this story as I read about the role three Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito, played in the final collapse of their party’s healthcare follies, which had come down to repealing Obamacare and replacing it with nothing.
“We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it,” said Donald Trump, washing his irresponsible hands of a matter that seems to him little more than a way to score political points. “We’ll let Obamacare fail.”
Compare that with Capito’s “I did not come to Washington to hurt people.”
Capito, Collins and Murkowski are no fans of Obamacare. But they also seem much less afraid of bullies than so many of their male counterparts – perhaps because they see through the persona of the locker-room lout and perhaps also because they see their roles as actually trying to do something to help their constituents.
Maybe gender has nothing to do with it. And maybe it’s just a coincidence that 169 years ago today the first Women’s Rights Convention met in Seneca Falls, N.Y. and condemned the “history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman.”