“Mitch McConnell,” I wrote, “will find some way to spin it.” Sure enough, his campaign has boys-will-be-boys’d photos of teenagers choking and groping a cardboard cutout of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This sort of blithe dismissal of toxic masculinity is the hidden breeding ground for incidents like this weekend’s mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. Not all young men who behave like these Team Mitch high schoolers will go on to compile rape and kill lists as did the Dayton shooter, but pretending their behavior is no big deal affects the placement of teenage America’s Overton window when it comes to the objectification and disparagement of women.
ETA: Kevin Golden did release another statement saying the campaign doesn’t condone “any aggressive, suggestive, or demeaning act toward life sized cardboard cut outs”, comparing the incident to a similar one involving Obama staffers and a cutout of Hillary Clinton.
He’s right, of course, to make the comparison, and Democrats reject it at their peril. As I keep saying, toxic masculinity knows no party affiliation. One wonders, however, whether Golden ever would have ended up releasing an “in no way condones” statement had Team Mitch not suddenly remembered the Favreau incident.
Generally, Republicans don’t repudiate something they’ve done unless they think they have a way to tar Democrats with it in the process. It’s just that this time, the both-sidesism happens to be fact, not fantasy.