News & Politics

Does Amy Klobuchar Want to Be America's Abusive Boss?

Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., questions Attorney General nominee William Barr during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

On Monday night, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) tried to cast her bad history of abusing employees in a positive light, but her answer actually suggested that she wants to be America’s abusive boss.

Responding to a question about her checkered history with staff, Klobuchar admitted to having been a tough boss and suggested she would be a tough boss for the American people.

“Am I a tough boss? Sometimes, yes,” she said. “Have I pushed people too hard? Yes. But I have kept expectations for myself that are very high. I’ve asked my staff to meet those same expectations. And the big point for me is I want the country to meet high expectations.”

Did you catch that? “The big point for me is I want the country to meet high expectations.”

America should have high ambitions, and America’s leaders should have the drive to pursue ambitious goals. But Klobuchar’s problems with employees aren’t as simple as she suggested. If so, the senator would not have gone through three potential campaign managers.

“Some former Klobuchar staffers, all of whom spoke to HuffPost on condition of anonymity, describe Klobuchar as habitually demeaning and prone to bursts of cruelty that make it difficult to work in her office for long,” HuffPost’s Molly Redden and Amanda Terkel reported. The staffers recalled one episode in which the senator proved to be particularly petty. Staffers were running late, and Klobuchar wrote out tardy slips, leaving one staffer in tears.

It’s one thing to hold people who work for you to high standards. It’s another thing entirely to act like your staff are in first grade, handing out slips when they’re tardy.

“She was constantly lighting new fires,” a former staffer recalled. “When you have people who don’t want to work for you, you can’t be as effective.”

The Minnesota senator’s office has consistently had one of the highest staff turnover rates in the U.S. Senate. That rate ranked number 1 in an analysis of all Senate staff salaries between 2001 and 2016, according to LegiStorm (Klobuchar entered the Senate in 2007). Recently, her office dropped down to third.

The senator faced scrutiny in 2015 after endorsing a higher minimum wage, while not paying her interns. She started paying her interns in January.

Klobuchar’s attempt to defend her history as an abusive boss reminds me of an episode of the hit show Game of Thrones. In one moment, Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) is discussing the promise of the young boy-king Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson). Pycelle defends Joffrey by saying, “Sternness in defense of the realm is no vice,” and predicts “true greatness” from the little tyrant.

What was the “sternness” Joffrey showed? The cruel boy king had a beloved character gruesomely executed in front of his two daughters, and that execution started a war. Rather than greatness, Joffrey delivers torture — and makes every problem far worse.

Amy Klobuchar is no Joffrey Baratheon, but this explanation has more than a little Pycelle in it.

As the Washington Free Beacon’s Noah Pollak put it, “Klobuchar’s answer here is that, yes, she threw things at her staff, but she also wants to throw things at America.” Yikes!

Klobuchar isn’t the kind of candidate who will hold her staff to high expectations. She’s the kind of boss who will hand out tardy slips like a first-grade teacher scolding her students. She isn’t satisfied being an abusive boss in the Senate. She wants to be America’s abusive boss.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.