Attacks on the White House Press Secretary are a staple of all administrations, but most of the critics respect boundaries: it is okay to challenge the official White House version of events, and even to call into question the veracity of the Press Secretary, but assaults on that person's physical characteristics—especially if the post is held by a woman—are considered taboo.
The same rule does not apply to Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She has been routinely vilified and mocked, with impunity, by some of her critics. Their remarks constitute the most vicious of all ad hominem assaults: they trash her looks. Here is a sample.
- Just this week, Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker said the following: "She's impermeable. You know, we've heard forever and ever that we're going to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and the wall we've wound up with is named Sarah Huckabee Sanders. And you know, she's just, uh, she's just there." Then, after feigning concern that she might be saying something "physically insulting," Parker concludes that Sanders provides a "barrier" between the public and the White House.
- Last week, Chelsea Handler said the following when asked about Sanders: "That harlot that they're dressing up and trolloping out every day? I mean, one day she has no makeup on at all, the next she has six foot eyelashes, she's got cleavage and summer wh[ore] lipstick all over her face. Can you believe what they turned her into? A proper trollop."
- Last month, Aidy Bryant on "Saturday Night Live" portrayed Sanders as a fat seductively dressed fool.
- Also last month, Los Angeles Times Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Horsey wrote the following: "By comparison, Sanders looks more like a slightly chunky soccer mom who organizes snacks for the kids' games. Rather than the fake eyelashes and formal dresses she puts on for news briefings, Sanders seems as if she'd be more comfortable in sweats and running shoes."
- In July, White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said, "The only thing I ask Sarah—Sarah, if you're watching, I loved the hair and makeup person we had on Friday, so I'd like to continue to use the hair and makeup person."
- That same month, Ira Madison of the Daily Beast referred to Sanders as a "Butch queen first time in drags at ball."
- In May, on "Saturday Night Live," Aidy Bryant played Sanders in a skit, saying, "My father is Mike Huckabee and my mother is a big Southern hamburger, and yes, I am hilarious like my daddy."
Why the sexist attacks? It's not hard to figure out. She defends the president. More important, she does so with greater effectiveness than any White House Press Secretary in recent memory (this explains Scaramucci's quip). Indeed, she is one of the most talented persons working in the Trump administration. I might add that her femininity, combined with her unshakeable presence, add to her attractiveness.
I typed "Sarah Huckabee Sanders" into the search engine of the National Organization for Women to see if the feminists had ever come to bat for her. It returned the following message: "Sorry, No Results."
Bill Donohue is President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of seven books and many articles.