Is Alan Simpson Guilty of Being a Sexist or Just a Bad Politican?

photo of former US senator alan simpson

According to Fox News, women’s groups are calling for President Obama to fire former Senator and current co-chair of a federal debt commission board, Alan Simpson, for hostile and sexist remarks made by Simpson in an e-mail to Ashley Carson, the executive director of the National Older Women’s League. Carson claims that Simpson’s language showed that he had a “negative attitude toward women and seniors.” The result of Simpson’s inflammatory language resulted in the following conference call:

Friday, four women’s groups and Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said Simpson’s sexist attitude and misguided view of Social Security make him unsuited to inform decisions about America’s financial future.

So what exactly did Simpson say that was so inflammatory? That Carson should get back in the kitchen? That Carson didn’t know what she was talking about because she was a woman and/or a senior?

No, Simpson’s supposedly hateful and sexist comment compared Social Security to a “milk cow with 310 million tits.”

After sending the e-mail, Simpson then issued a jokey apology:

“Over the last 40 years, I have had my size 15 feet in my mouth a time or two. To quote my old friend and colleague, Senator Lloyd Bentsen, when I make a mistake, ‘It’s a doozy!”‘

But for Carson, the damage had been done.

Hmm. Look — I can understand finding the word “tits” offensive. But I fail to see how this is an outright attack on women.

Now, Carson alleges that Simpson has had a history of negative attitude toward women and seniors. She may be referring, in part, to this video in which Simpson went on a rant about Social Security, arguing, among other things, that Social Security would be bankrupt soon and was only going to benefit the “lesser people” in society. Now that is hateful, but hateful to whom, precisely? Simpson doesn’t specify. Is it a class argument? A race argument? An age argument? A gender argument? This rant, and the accompanying article, only seems to prove that Simpson is incompetent, ill-informed or purposefully misleading — not necessarily a sexist or a bigot.

I don’t know if Simpson should be fired or not, but I do know that he shouldn’t be fired on the grounds of being misogynistic. Let’s be honest — people want Alan Simpson out of office because they don’t like his flawed politics, not because he’s a sexist. I find Sarah Palin’s anti-choice,  “Mama Grizzly” and “accidental” feminism far more troubling for women than Alan Simpson’s “tits” comments. With that said, I don’t think that this is the Republican answer to the Shirley Sherrod scandal — I do certainly think Simpson is an idiot. But any time that people throw out frivolous accusations of sexism in order to denounce someone they already didn’t like, they cheapen the entire conversation about women’s rights.

What do you think? Is Alan Simpson a sexist or just a bad politician? Or do you agree with his views on Social Security?



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3 thoughts on “Is Alan Simpson Guilty of Being a Sexist or Just a Bad Politican?

  1. May I just say, he looks EXACTLY how I imagine real-life Lex Luthor would look.
    Now I will go and read the article…

  2. I don’t think he’s sexist; I do, however, think he seems very hateful to the working class. I read the entire email about a week ago on another site, and while it was very angry and spiteful, it didn’t seem particularly directed at women.

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