Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
February 8, 2017

Warren’s Rebuke and the DC Alpha Males

C-Span screenshot of Sen. Warren being silenced while delivering in a Senate speech against the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.C-Span screenshot of Sen. Mitch McConnell silencing Sen. Warren in a speech against the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.

The political combat in Washington yesterday was not specifically about gender. At least, not until late in the night. That’s when Elizabeth Warren was warned by the Senate chair, then silenced by Mitch McConnell for her speech against the Sessions Attorney General nomination. Warren was specifically castigated for impugning a sitting senator after reading a letter by Loretta Scott King against Session in 1986. (You can see the delivery of the warning above.)

McConnell’s words quickly went viral. It was not the three “she’s” but the phrase about persistence. It was widely perceived by progressive netizens to imply a woman who “fails to know her place.”

A Clinton victory over Trump, the pussy grabber, was supposed to create a political renaissance for woman in America. Instead, gender politics and woman’s rights have been buried under issues such as Russian relations, terrorism and immigration restrictions, the healthcare assault, economic and territorial protectionism, and Trump’s competence and talent for obfuscation. Yes, the massive and historic Women’s March proved a momentary exception. But even then, the event was perceived more as a repudiation of Trump and his far-right policies than a call to address women’s rights and gender equality.

McConnell’s accusation of “persistence,” of course, is far more applicable to Trump. What persists, and Warren and her colleagues are responding to, is an atmosphere of extreme hostile, intentional deception, psy-op worthy disorientation, and a radical political agenda being waged primarily by white, affluent, far-right, Christian conservative men. Of course, yesterday’s events and the day’s more notable scenes were not about gender. Except for the fact that the actions and images were so testosterone-laced.

Take this photo of Pence as part of the dramatic salvaging of the DeVos debacle. It’s not to say that DeVos was the damsel in distress. Even so, the specter of Pence and his posse of white men in suits storming the Capitol was unnerving.

Befitting the atmosphere, a visit to Washington by state sheriffs couldn’t have been better timed. Below, we see Jefferson Sessions, the man at the center of the cyclone, the antagonist of gay rights, woman’s rights and voting rights, meeting with the group in his office yesterday. On the semi-final day of debate over his fitness for the Attorney General job, the day before his confirmation is rammed through, the photo places equal and ironic emphasis on the two words in “law men.”

Finally, take a look at Trump posing with a gift from the sheriffs.

President #Trump holds a statue he received from sheriffs while meeting at the #whitehouse #bloombergphotos #politics

A photo posted by Andrew Harrer (@dcdrewphoto) on

As if he needed any more encouragement, the token epitomizes the energy in the White House these days. It’s about the ascendency of the alpha males. From McConnell to Pence to Bannon/Trump to Sessions, cowboy justice is the order of the day. That’s with emphasis on the “boy.”

(screenshots: C-SPAN 2)

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