Editor in Chief
You can tell a lot about a man by the way he treats the people who bring him coffee and little bags of pretzels, and make sure his belongings are stowed securely in the overhead bin. So when an important man, a U.S. senator, actually -- busy, busy, busy -- flouts
federal regs by refusing to turn off his cellphone so the plane can pull away from the gate (oh, and to heck with his fellow passengers, who in their humble way also had lives to get on with while they instead tapped their toes and he kept on yakking), well, that was bad enough. "It's Harry Reid calling,'' the rudenik, a.k.a. Chuck Schumer, announced to his hostages. "I guess health care will have to wait.''
But when the senior senator from New York then called a flight attendant who was only doing her job the b-word under his breath, that told us even more. Like how much women must be willing to put up with from a self-described "tireless advocate for women's rights" and how little -- this
and only this -- the "advocate" has to do to keep the franchise.
Sure, Schumer has said through a spokesman that he regrets the incident -- and in the process made a liar out of fellow N.Y. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was seated near him on the plane and who, before she knew he was copping a plea, put out the word that he'd been "polite'' when asked to turn off his phone. Maybe he can issue the requisite televised apology while seated beside David Letterman, who not all that long ago said
Sarah Palin looked like "a slutty flight attendant.''
Only, this kind of casual disrespect goes well beyond those two boobs Dave and Chuck, and is to me an argument against the trashy way we talk about ourselves sometimes. It's why, even though I could not be happier for the success of our extravagantly talented colleague Helena Andrews, who is going to be writing the screenplay of the film version of her forthcoming memoir, "Bitch Is the New Black,'' I don't much agree with Donna Trussell's recent piece
about how calling ourselves bitches is kind of empowering: "You can cower and whine, or you can be a bitch. In the next century maybe women will find a nice middle ground, but, unfortunately, we're not yet there.''
To me, it only encourages the way the Chuck Schumers of the world talk to women who displease them, and if we're not there yet, then we'd jolly well better get a move on.