It’s not surprising that Jennifer Rubin is taking Liz Cheney’s side. When it comes to policy positions, the two are pretty much interchangeable. So I wasn’t surprised to see Rubin push back against Jonathan Martin’s “silly report” in the New York Times, titled: “In Wyoming, a Cheney run worries G.O.P.” But Rubin’s accusation that Martin’s piece includes “a hint of sexism” feels beyond the pale.
Here are the graphs Rubin cites as problematic:
“Ms. Cheney, the mother of five school-age children, has become ubiquitous, appearing many times in communities over 300 miles from home. She has told associates that if she runs, she wants to do so in her own right.
Driving long distances in a state where towns can be 70 miles apart is not unusual for residents here, but few of them so frequently post Twitter or Facebook messages about their activities. Last month, Ms. Cheney shared a picture on Twitter of her daughter steering a horse around a barrel course.”
Martin was clearly establishing how Cheney — who desperately needs to buttress her Wyoming bona fides if she is to primary Enzi (or scare him into retirement) — is working to undermine potentially being tagged with the carpetbagger image.
But Rubin saw something more ominous than that, choosing to interpret Martin’s graphs thusly:
“There she goes gallivanting around the state with five young kids at home! Frankly, if it were “Larry” Cheney the number of kids wouldn’t be mentioned in connection with his travels, and he’d be just another ambitious conservative trying to clear the dead wood out of the party.”
On one hand, Martin’s is an unflattering portrayal, inasmuch as he exposes Cheney as being…an aggressive politician. On the other hand, he shows Cheney is out there meeting people — that she’s willing to do the hard work it takes to lead — that she’s not above reaching out to people. That’s not a horrible thing. It’s how Hillary Clinton earned some grudging respect when she ran in New York.
What is more, the assumption that mentioning Liz Cheney is a mom somehow hurts her is problematic. This seems to be a bit of a Rorschach test. Sure, someone looking for sexism might find it here. But frankly, I think the fact that Cheney is the mother of “five school-age children” helps humanize someone who might be seen as frankly a little rough around the edges. Nobody is going to think Liz Cheney a fragile flower.
Rubin has a habit of impugning motives, and this seems to be merely the latest example. Martin’s column might well have been a “hit piece” as she alleges, but the charge of sexism (even a hint of it) seems to be a bridge too far.