Juan Williams: The GOP’s problem with women of color

Stefani Reynolds

Most white men are Republicans.

Most women of color, especially Black women, are Democrats.

Now the overwhelmingly white, male, Republican Senate majority is aiming to reject one of President-elect Biden’s cabinet-level nominees. No surprise, that person is a woman of color — Neera Tanden.

{mosads}If confirmed, Tanden would be the first non-white woman to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

But she is far from the first woman of color in Washington to ignite ugly talk — especially about Black women as angry, unqualified and having an attitude.

Tanden is not alone in feeling the weight of this racism right now.

Another woman of color, Susan Rice, has long been smeared by Republicans in Congress with bogus claims that she knowingly lied about the 2011 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

It is a commonly accepted fact of political life in Washington that Rice is branded with the GOP’s slander and will never be confirmed by a Republican Senate.

That is the case even though Rice has extraordinary credentials as a Rhodes scholar who served as assistant secretary of state, UN Ambassador and President Obama’s national security advisor.

Instead, Rice has been chosen to lead the Domestic Policy Council, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.

The GOP’s problems with Tanden and Rice are matched by the GOP’s disdain for another high profile woman of color, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

The first woman to win the vice presidency, Harris is a former California attorney general with a tough-on-crime reputation. Her law enforcement background hurt her with liberals in the Democratic primaries. But among white male Republicans, Harris is viewed, in the words of President Trump, as a scary “radical.”

Even worse, Trump depicted Harris after the vice presidential debate in October as “this monster that was onstage with [Vice President] Mike Pence…She was terrible…and totally unlikeable.”

Strange, but most polls named Harris the debate winner. She also has better favorability ratings than Trump.

Trump’s put-downs of Black women are near-constant.

He called Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) a “low-IQ individual.” He demeaned his former White House aide, Omarosa Manigault Newman, as “that dog.”

And Trump, in an act of pure projection of his own racism, labeled the four Democratic women of color in Congress known as “The Squad” as “a very Racist group of troublemakers who are…not very smart.”

He also told Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), to “go back” to where they came from, apparently without realizing three of the four were born in the USA — and all four are American citizens.

Trump’s demonizing of Black women is now a model for other white Republicans.

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) who is in a tough reelection fight, recently made news by imitating Trump’s game.

Perdue mocked Harris’ first name as strange, foreign. “Kamala-mala-mala, I don’t know, whatever,” he told a rally in October.

“Senator Perdue never would have done this to a male colleague. Or a white colleague. And everyone knows it,” tweeted Jon Ossoff, the Democrat running against Perdue.

But the woman with the target on her back at the moment is Tanden, a child of Indian immigrants.

Few Republicans openly argue that Tanden, one of the architects of Obama’s Affordable Care Act and the head of a leading Washington think tank, is unqualified.

White, male senators’ big problem with Tanden is…wait for it…her tweets.

Yes, Senate Republicans had little to say for the last four years about tweets from President @realDonaldTrump that mocked political opponents and even fellow Republicans. But they are now in full fury over Tanden’s sharp verbal jabs on Twitter.

Here’s Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas):

{mossecondads}“I think, in light of her combative and insulting comments about many members of the Senate, mainly on our side of the aisle, that it creates certainly a problematic path.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called her a “nut job.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) worried she was “overtly partisan.”

Biden brushed off the criticism of Tanden’s tweets.

“That disqualifies almost every Republican senator and 90 percent of the administration,” he told Thomas Friedman of the New York Times. “But by the way, [Tanden is] smart as hell.”

Comparing Tanden’s sharp tongue with white men who have been confirmed to run OMB is another problem for Republicans.

For example, Senate Republicans confirmed Trump’s first nominee for OMB director, former Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.). Mulvaney made his name in Washington as a sharp-tongued member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus.

Trump’s current OMB director, Russell Vought, spent “much of his past 15 years in Washington as a political brawler,” The Washington Post wrote last year. He, too, was confirmed.

One former OMB director, Mitch Daniels, a Republican, advised Senate Republicans to look for another fight.

He wrote in The Washington Post last week that “histrionic recitations of previous little insults and so’s-your-old-man rejoinders will just make a dreary situation worse.”

It will also deepen the dreadful reality of Republican male racism aimed at women of color.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Ayanna Pressley biden administration David Perdue Donald Trump Ilhan Omar John Cornyn Kamala Harris Lindsey Graham Maxine Waters Mick Mulvaney Mike Pence Neera Tanden Omarosa Manigault Newman Polarization racial politics Racism Rashida Tlaib Rob Portman Susan Rice

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