The media had a field day this week when South Carolina Democratic gubernatorial candidate, State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, called his opponent, Gov. Nikki Haley (R), a "whore" while campaigning in Florence.
"We are going to escort whore out the door," he said. And then he corrected himself, but laughed at his misstep. He later apologized calling it a "slip of the tongue."
Ann Romney jumped into the fray, telling CNN: "When I first heard about it, it hit me right in my gut." And she called out all who weren't outraged. "It's so upsetting when you know someone can say something like that about a woman, and not have any kind of reaction." Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) blasted Sheheen, saying it was an unacceptable "personal attack."
A quick look in the history books shows a pattern. Democrats' silence on sexist attacks made by Democratic candidates is two-faced.
An attack ad labeled Foust's attacks "sexist," "bizarre," "insensitive" and "ignorant." And warned, "Don't be fooled by Foust." Democrats were mum.
Not a peep about the use of the sexist word "whore" from Lena Dunham, actress and comedian who stars in HBO's "Girls." Instead, in a recent Cosmopolitan article, she calls out Republicans for antiquated views. While encouraging millennials to vote, she says: "This is how you keep sexist health care policies from passing." And later adds, "This is how you keep sexist politicians out of office. This is how you create the change you want."
In 2010, current California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), or a member of his campaign, blasted his opponent, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R), as a "whore" in a private telephone conversation. The next day, the National Organization of Women endorsed Brown.
But in March 2012, conservative radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, called Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" after Fluke voiced her support of mandating insurance coverage for contraceptives. The political hierarchy – including President Obama and Democrats — called for him to apologize. But so did Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Last time I checked, the definition of "whore" is "prostitute." So where was Obama's outrage when Haley was maligned? Shouldn't it be fitting that both parties condemn Haley's and Comstock's opponents, not just Republicans?
And why was it okay for Sen. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE (D-La.) Thursday to blame racism and sexism for the reason Dems aren't going to do well in the South? (Hasn't she, a woman, been elected three times as a senator?) Her opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), lashed out, wishing she would focus on policies, not rhetoric.
Who knows why male candidates think it's okay to demean female opponents of either party. All I know is Republicans and Democrats have to retire stereotypical gender labels and insidious prejudice and focus on presenting policies that fix America.
Ashburn is an award-winning Washington-based reporter and TV analyst covering media and politics.