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.”
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.
Read: Women’s anger still isn’t taken seriously
What a disappointment all of this has been to those of us who had been so excited by Klobuchar when we were introduced to her during the sudden-death round of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. You can be forgiven for not remembering those hearings, as they took place several years ago, before (inter alia) the Cohen testimony, the government shutdown, Caravans I, II, and III, Jussie Smollett, the state of emergency, people “unwilling to work,” Virginia Is for Racists, Donald Trump breaking his 40-year winning streak of staying out of Vietnam, and the Oscars’ celebration of diversity coming to an abrupt halt when the wrong diversity picture got celebrated.
The Kavanaugh hearings revealed how powerfully Donald Trump’s carny politics have affected the highest quarters of civic life. The nominee chewed through pages and pages of dialogue as he attempted a one-man table reading of Twelve Angry Men; Cory Booker rushed importantly to the dais to inform Americans that he didn’t understand the central scene of Spartacus; Lindsey Graham climbed up on top of his mama’s stepladder and roared like a great big angry lion; and Kamala Harris gave a rich display of the excellent prosecutorial skills that are currently jeopardizing her campaign for the Democratic nomination.
And then, Klobuchar. By the time she questioned him, Kavanaugh was fully absorbed in a spate of Irish Alzheimer’s (in which you forget everything but the grudges), but she had an immediate, powerful effect on him. It was as though she reminded him of something important about himself. “I should say one thing, Senator Klobuchar,” he said at the outset, “I appreciate our meeting together, and I appreciate how you handled the prior hearing, and I have a lot of respect for you.”
But he quickly reverted to his position of bullheadedness and verbal aggression. When she 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.