Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is retiring. Although he was a faithful steward of the “war on women” political theme his party has used against Republicans, the Nevada senator wasn’t exactly a feminist warrior.
In 2014, he spent months blocking the Debbie Smith Act, which would have helped speed up the rape-kit processing and reduce the current backlog. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, tried to pass it as a stand-alone bill rather than let it get bogged down along with a larger and more controversial Justice authorization package. Reid blocked the bill, hoping to use it as leverage for passing the other measure, but relented about five months later.
Reid also pays women in his office less than men, despite his self-righteous rhetoric on the issue. Women in Reid’s office made an average of $13,500 less than men, according to Fiscal Year 2013 data compiled by the Capitol City Project. Based on the same (misleading) metric he frequently used to condemn all other employers, Reid actually carried a wage gap in his own office roughly the same as the national average. Men in senior-level positions earned more on average than women, and Reid was also more likely to promote them. Reid’s chief of staff, legislative director and communications director are all men.
Finally, there’s Reid’s treatment of women politicians in his own party. Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., threw her hat in the ring to replace outgoing Sen. Barbara Mikulski and to keep the seat in female Democratic hands. Reid immediately endorsed Edwards’ opponent, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Mikulski didn’t want to pick a candidate, but was reportedly furious that Reid endorsed a man over an African-American woman.
Then there was Reid’s tepid defense of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who came under attack last year by a slew of male Democrats over her leadership of the Democratic National Committee. When asked about the criticism surrounding Wasserman Schultz — including President Obama’s apparent dislike of her — Reid only said he liked her TV appearance. He added that any decision about her leadership was out of his hands.
And these are all examples just from the past year.
One less male politician around to wage a “war on women.”