Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Who Is Amy Klobuchar?

Like most of you I don’t care a whit for Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. Recently she announced her candidacy for the presidency and no one really cared. Considering how little she has accomplished, we have good reason to ignore her.

But then, the media became enthralled by her nastiness, her bad temper, her out-of-control emotional outbursts. Why, once she even ate her salad with a comb… certainly not the best use for the utensil. And certainly not the ultimate in human hygiene. It's called setting a bad example and endangering one's health to do so.

At a time when we are forced to believe that women are no more or less emotional than men, because thinking otherwise would be sexist, we have a woman who is completely out of control, who treats her staff with scorn and contempt, who is very much like a witch. Though, of course, we are not allow to use the w--- word any more.

Unhinged… would be the word that best describes Sen. Klobuchar. When it comes to executive management skills, she apparently has none. Or better, she has less than none. She is a perfect harridan in the office. She is an equal opportunity abuser and harasser.

Caitlyn Flanagan describes what its’ like working for Klobuchar:

Her problem is rage, easily uncorked, and directed not at the various forces that might thwart the needs of her constituents, but at the people—many of them young—who work for her. During Klobuchar’s first senatorial campaign, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees decried her “shameful treatment of her employees” in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office; in March of 2018, Politico reported that she had the highest staff turnover in the Senate. But it has been the recent reporting of BuzzFeed NewsHuffPostThe New York Times, and others that has provided the vivid and ugly details of what apparently lies behind those facts. Although many of the staffers and former staffers provided their reports anonymously, the senator has mostly not disputed the specifics, instead seeking to frame the behavior as part of the high expectations she has of herself and her staff.

According to BuzzFeed, Klobuchar “demeaned and berated her staff almost daily, subjecting them to bouts of explosive rage and regular humiliation within the office.” The articles quote staffers alleging that in fits of anger, she threw things—including binders—in the direction of staff members, accidentally hitting an employee on at least one occasion. The accounts of her cruelty are astonishing. She once allegedly forced an employee to say to another senator’s staffer, “I’m supposed to tell you Senator Klobuchar is late today because I am bad at my job.” For Klobuchar, the dark night of the soul arrives right on schedule: She is known to fire off scathing emails to her staff between the hours of 1 and 3 o’clock in the morning.

You get the picture. In the world of abuse and harassment, Klobuchar stands out as an appalling example. Of course, if she never made a pass at any of her staff she cannot be accused of sexual harassment, but doesn’t emotional harassment count?

Unfortunately, Flanagan has marinated in the therapy culture and believes that she must seek out the root cause of this appalling bad behavior, this manifest character flaw. Naturally, she blames it on the men in Klobuchar’s life, in particular, her alcoholic grandfather and her alcoholic father. Women on their own cannot behave monstrously. We must always blame it on a man.

She writes:

Her paternal grandfather was a hard drinker: “Sometimes he drank way too much and came home in a rage, yelling at my grandma about all kinds of grievances.” In turn, he raised an alcoholic.

Her father, Jim Klobuchar, a beloved regional newspaperman, was a serious alcoholic who spoiled family events; was charged with at least three DUIs and had to write an apology to readers of the Star Tribune; and once stopped with Amy on the way home from a Vikings game and ended up drinking in the upstairs room of a bar, while the child sat alone at the bar, nursing a 7 Up and wondering when her father would come back for her. 

One of the reasons that people like Klobuchar get away with harassing and abusing the staff is that sensible people like Flanagan are at the ready to defend them, to exonerate them, to absolve them of any responsibility for their behavior.

But, calling out Klobuchar, perhaps for the first time in public, for mistreating staff does not signal sexism. Flanagan explains clearly why we tend to overlook women’s emotional outbursts. Since men are twice as strong as women their outrage is far more dangerous. It’s not sexism; it’s reality.

As dawn must follow dusk, any unpleasant revelation about a successful woman must be immediately plumbed for any possible hint of sexism, and so it has been with the Klobuchar news. If a man threw a binder at his employees, he’d be appointed president for life, is the thinking. An American city would be renamed for him; women would compete to bear him sons; his picture would be printed on currency. Certainly a kind of sexism has accompanied the incident, and the proof is that Klobuchar seems to be surviving these reports, while a man never would.

Although maybe it’s not sexism. Maybe it’s a simple recognition of the fact that men are capable of greater physical harm than women.

Of course, the usual feminist chorus has stepped forth to defend Klobuchar’s abusive behavior. Among them, Meghan McCain. She declared that the senator was tough and strong. If tough and strong means throwing tantrums and demeaning your staff, then the seriously challenged McCain has no idea what she is talking about. Klobuchar’s impotent rage is precisely that: weak and impotent. There is no virtue in being what McCain calls a "bad bitch."

The inevitable impulse to characterize this bad behavior as some kind of feminist badassery has already begun. “Being a bad bitch is a good thing,” Meghan McCain said on The View; “For me, it’s like you’re tough and you’re strong and you’re going to get things done.”

Flanagan is having none of it:

It’s shameful to humiliate and mistreat employees, no matter your gender. It’s unacceptable to be so unable to control your emotions that you throw things toward co-workers, and despicable to do it to subordinates who are afraid of you. Trying to sell cruelty and pathological behavior as a feminist victory is yet another reason that so many women who care deeply about equality don’t identify themselves as feminists.

For reasons that defy reason, Flanagan seems to believe that Klobuchar was the unsung heroine of the Kavanaugh hearings. For my part I do not even recall her intervention. In order to retain her own West Coast bona fides Flanagan trashes Brett Kavanaugh for getting angry. If someone were trying to destroy your career and your wife and your children over unsubstantiated allegations from  high school, how would you respond. If he had not gotten angry, he would have been denounced as a wimp:

But he [Kavanaugh] quickly reverted to his position of bullheadedness and verbal aggression. When she [Klobuchar] asked him—respectfully, and with generous reference to her own father’s alcoholism—about his drinking, he lost his composure, baiting her, asking about her own drinking and wanting to know whether she’d ever had a blackout. She had every reason to slap him down, but she was unflappable and gracious. After a recess following the exchange, Kavanaugh defied Trump, who had recommended that he axe-kick his way into the Supreme Court, and did something remarkable: He apologized to her.

Obviously, Flanagan must denounce the Trump administration. Otherwise, no more West Coast cocktail parties. So she expresses great admiration for Klobuchar's mediocre performance, while missing the best performance of the Kavanaugh nomination.

She writes:

Amy Klobuchar interrupted Trump’s carny politics with something entirely opposite to them, something that called to mind the old virtues: character and decency. 

In truth, the one senator who showed true character and decency during the Kavanaugh hearings was Sen. Susan Collins. But, she cannot be recognized because she voted for the nominee. In Flanagan’s mind, good character means voting against Trump. And besides, a woman who shows no character in private is seriously unlikely to show it in public. Klobuchar did not rise about her character flaws. She hid them well enough to dupe a gullible writer.


Anonymous said...

I know that I, as a man, will always be needed by women. This is true for all of us who are males. Without men who will women blame for their own inadequacies, failures, bad habits, et al.
There is some joy in knowing that we matter because there is now little reason to pay attention to anything women say. Their opinion is of little value for if we are damned if we do and damned if we don't nothing is served by paying heed to their machinations and desire for victim status.
As a young man, I used to wonder how normally smart, articulate men seemed to stop talking, listening and distancing themselves from women by going out with the "boys." Now after years of experience, the same conditions that create "mean girls" in the early part of our lives are only an extension of that concept writ large. Klobuchar is just a very learned practitioner of that female art only now it applies to anyone who might get in her way.

Ares Olympus said...

Klobuchar is my state senator. I recall Kavanaugh asking Klobuchar about her drinking, and she calmly replied that she didn't have a drinking problem. Kavanaugh on the other hand, in the hot seat showed much public rage at having his reputation being risked by alleged 30 year old behavior he denied existed. We can even admire Kavanaugh for his righteous rage in sympathy, imagining ourselves in his spot, even though it seemed to look like he wasn't in control of his own emotions. Sometimes a person who can control their emotions is scarier anyway, since you can't see their vulnerabilities.

I also recall Bret Stephens recommended Klobuchar reach out to all her previous staffers and ask them if her behavior was that bad, and apologize to any of them who need it. That seems sound advice. Of course if you've already tattled in public, without talking in private first, that makes it harder to get an apology.

I've observed everyone has different standards of behavior between the public and private spheres where you can let more of your true self out (family sphere can be the worst), and trust the people around you can handle it. And if one person has a worse temper than others, then everyone else is doing the handling and can't do their own letting loose. And if a let-loose person has the power, underlings may never speak up at all, except years later to someone else or to the public like this, so that's an ugly situation for all.

I'd like to think I'd not tattle. I'd rather not have that reputation. Shame does make thing difficult, to even see someone's untidy outbursts, or risk pointing it out when that can make it worse. I see why people prefer to "forgive and forget" as much as they can, but if you can't, if you find you're holding resentment, best to speak up directly later when your tormentor is calm.

trigger warning said...

Klobuchar appears to have porcine table manners. I wonder if Rep Omar deems her haram.

Sam L. said...

Amy is Minnesota NOT Nice.

Anonymous said...

Disagree about Collins. Heard person after person, in the public, praising her. Oh, sure, if you just looked at it shallowly (sorry, not meant personally), she was "the voice of reason." But specifics count.

She said she was SURE Ford had been assaulted. She does not know that. That gives Ford an excuse -- oh, she just got mixed up. That takes off the table the fact that she was friends of leftist politicians, caused tremendous grief to a family, almost took off what might be a great justice, affecting all of America -- for her ego.

I am NOT sure she was assaulted. As a matter of fact, I'm convinced she'a a fake AND convinced Collins knew it. She just gave this big build-up so everyone would listen and then defended that horrible person who had nasty politicians and journos going through a man's HS yearbook, shaming him in front of the world.

That said, I have worked in the schools with many people like AK, in particularly, the superintendent of a tiny, good-ol-boys school district in a rural heartland state. She raged, she insulted, she accused, she would call my classroom to do this while I was trying to teach, she called me in, and after an hour when I was tired of being personally attacked, I suggested we meet again when she was not so angry.

"Angry? You've never seen me angry!" she screamed, and I mean screamed. I said I had to leave, and she said if I left and did not let her continue to rage (in front of two other people who just sat there), she wanted my resignation. I gladly gave it to her, and she blacklisted me with other schools. Next I heard, the English teacher next to me, who seemed to have no probs with her that year, was fired by her the following year and the principal, who silently sat in on the meeting, the year after.

Cannot imagine what kind of mess it's in now. I can only call it psychopathic rage, so I know exactly what AK's staff goes through as I'm sure many of us do. Sadly, admin can be as inappropriate as they want and if people knew how many were in those jobs in government schools, they'd have their kids out in a heartbeat.

Dan Patterson said...

Enlightening post, and commentary, as usual.
Because there are no social or personal consequences for their bad behavior there are herds of people operating without emotional and sometimes physical restraint. We can use our powers of observation to determine what juvenile traits are being exposed and by what populations, but we shan't speak of it, shall we? And we mustn't correct or seek to improve those acts of self-destruction lest we be seen as -(x)phobic -(x)ist etc etc. None of us shall notice the strengths of one category of human as being different than others' skills; "why, yes, a women is very well suited to military combat/fire-fighting/logging and a man can nurture a newborn just as well as a mother".
Uh, no.
And I for one have discarded the guilt and shame that once provided many with a convenient avenue for blame and off-loaded responsibility.
Cheers y'all.

UbuMaccabee said...

When I encounter women who cannot control their emotions, and who incline toward tantrums, the very best response is to lean back a bit and smirk. A big, fat smirk, all the while thinking to myself: "What would a Viking do?" and I smile wider. I know exactly what a Viking would do; I am positive I know what he would do. That thought links me to the Danes through centuries of acculturation; men, separated by a thousand years, still have exactly the same mental response to a screeching harpy. And that tells me there is hope for us yet.

Anonymous said...

Failure of leadership.

A previous manager was unable to control himself in much the same way.
This was in a STEM tech position.

As a Canadian I just told him to eff himself among a few other choice words and walked away. Of course that just got me managed out within the month.

Other people in the group left over time as well.

He was careful when hiring for his group to only get immigrants (universities in Canada are graduating STEM foreigners by the truckload).

As one Russian colleague told me later it's like living in a golden cage. The Russian idea of a gilded cage.

It looks nice. You get to live in the West. The pay's good. But you're trapped.

People like this are a fact of life that you learn sooner or later.

I'd suggest the book, The No Asshole Rule, by Robert Sutton.
It goes over his experiences and gives quite a bit of practical advice when this sort of thing comes up. And it will come up in most of our careers.

sestamibi said...


Correction, Klobuchar is your US Senator.