I am puzzled by the resignation of Dr. Paul Song from the progressive Courage Campaign network.
Song’s supposed gaffe: he used the term “whores” to refer to politicians. The context: Song, speaking as a surrogate for Bernie Sanders, told a New York City rally: “Medicare-for-all will never happen if we continue to elect corporate Democratic whores who are beholden to big pharma and the private insurance industry instead of us.”
That should be a totally uncontroversial statement, particularly for a supporter of Sanders and national health care. Boilerplate, even. I actually think of the words “whores” and “politicians” as synonyms—at least in common usage in this country. And if it was meant as metaphor, it’s not a new one. A Google search of “whores” and “politicians” gets more than 200,000 hits. Heck, P.J. O’Rourke wrote a book called Parliament of Whores, about Washington D.C. and Congress.
But the Democratic reaction was that Song had somehow offended. Hillary Clinton’s campaign demanded an apology, suggesting he was referring to her. Sanders criticized his own surrogate Media commentators suggested the use of “whores” was an example of misogyny – and even claimed it was an unfair insult to Democratic politicians, an argument that made no sense. To the contrary. the insult here was in comparing sex workers to people as vile as politicians.
But Song apologized, and resigned from the Courage Campaign. All for saying something that everyone thinks – and that mountains of data linking campaign contributions and official actions shows to be true.
The Song episode reminded me of a line from one of my favorite movies: “Course I’m respectable. I’m old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.”
Which movie? It’s Chinatown.