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Kellyanne Conway was dead wrong when she tried to play the gender card this weekend

On Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," White House senio...

Posted: Apr 23, 2018 4:36 PM
Updated: Apr 23, 2018 4:36 PM

On Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway got very mad when host Dana Bash asked her about a number of tweets sent by her husband that were quite critical of President Trump.

Here's how the exchange started:

BASH: Your husband is a very well-respected lawyer, and he's been sending some tweets that have been critical of the administration.

Just an example, in response to a tweet he saw saying President Trump's aides are reluctant to speak for him because he contradicts them, later, your husband wrote: "So true. It's absurd."

CONWAY: He writes a lot of things that are also supportive, and he writes a lot of things about corgis and Philadelphia Eagles and sports, too.

But the fact is that -- well, two things I will say to you.

Number one, that, again, that woman who lost the election whose name I never see on TV anymore is wrong that women -- I think she said white women have to listen to their -- the men in their life to -- to form their own political opinions. Wrong again, lady.

Number two, it's fascinating to me that CNN would go there. But it's very good for the whole world to have just witnessed that it's now fair ... Excuse me -- that it's now fair game what people's -- how people's spouses and significant others may differ with them.

I'm really surprised, but very, in some ways, relieved and gratified to see that.

Conway went on to suggest Bash asking about her husband was "meant to harass and embarrass." Bash said that the question was "Intended to be somewhat lighthearted about the fact that we are all grownups who have different opinions."

So, is Conway's outrage justified?

In short: No.

Let's go through this at a little deeper level.

George Conway is a prominent lawyer -- he was considered for solicitor general among other positions by Trump -- who operates an active Twitter feed. He regularly tweets and retweets things that are critical of Trump.

On Friday, for example, Conway retweeted this from Weekly Standard editor at large Bill Kristol:

"My piece in next week's print issue: Reluctant Trump supporters and lukewarm Trump approvers may balk at four more years for Trump. The key date: Nov. 7, 2018, when the issue becomes a prospective choice, not a retrospective justification."

The argument Kellyanne Conway seems to be making is that asking questions about her husband are obviously built on the idea that a woman can't disagree with her husband, on the antiquated notion that women only can have the same opinions that their man holds.

Which, I agree, is a totally offensive concept. Except that's not at all what Dana was doing in her questions.

First of all, George Conway -- as I mentioned above -- is someone who was under consideration for a number of posts within the Trump administration. This is not someone who has nothing to do with politics or never touches it. Quite the contrary. He is an active player in the political arena.

Then there is the fact that Trump himself has repeatedly made spouses fair game -- both during the campaign and as president.

If it is offensive to Conway for Dana to ask about George, what must she feel like when Trump continues to conflate the 2015 state Senate candidacy of Jill McCabe with the views of her husband --and former deputy FBI director -- Andrew McCabe?

Here's Trump on that very subject last month:

"The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife's campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M, who was also under investigation? How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!"

The logic of Trump's tweet goes like this: Jill McCabe ran as a Democrat for the Virginia state Senate - A super PAC aligned with then Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe donated heavily to her campaign - McAuliffe is a longtime ally of the Clinton family - Andrew McCabe was rooting for Clinton to win and even might have been willing to tip the scales in her favor.

That is EXACTLY what Conway is expressing outrage about. Assuming that a wife or husband must have the same political views as a spouse!

That example not convincing enough for you?

How about how during the 2016 campaign then candidate Trump not-so-subtly suggested that Heidi Cruz, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's wife, was unattractive?

The point is that Conway's accusation that Dana somehow "crossed the Rubicon" with a question about George Conway misses the fact that the Rubicon on spouses was passed a very long time ago -- and by the very person she now works for in the White House.

Outrage -- whether real or feigned -- is a tried and true way to win an argument or to end a line of questioning that you don't like. Kellyanne Conway knows that -- and employed that tactic on Sunday. But, scratch the surface of her accusation and it's clear she doesn't have a leg to stand on.

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