Why Michelle Wolf's Worst Attack Was Worse Than You Think
On Saturday night, one Washington crowd tried to give President Donald Trump the Nobel Peace Prize, while another Washington crowd stood up against the most offensive "jokes" a "comedian" has ever uttered. When Michelle Wolf spoke at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, her monologue descended into an x-rated tirade most infamous for attacks on White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Wolf's attacks on Sanders proved disgusting from about every angle, but only those familiar with the Hulu series "The Handmaid's Tale" — or the Margaret Atwood novel on which it is based — could understand the worst aspect of this tirade.
The "comedian" described Sarah Huckabee Sanders as "Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women," and this wasn't even the most offensive thing she said. Wolf started her attacks against Sanders with an "inside joke."
"I love you as Aunt Lydia on 'The Handmaid's Tale,'" Wolf said.
With this quip, Wolf played on the tired leftist motif that President Donald Trump's regime mimics the dystopian setting of "The Handmaid's Tale." In the novel and TV show, the United States has been coopted by a movement known as "Gilead," which removes all autonomy from women. The regime removes women's property, fires them from their jobs, and forces them into a stratified society based extremely loosely on one specific Bible passage.
Since the calamity that gave birth to "Gilead" made most women infertile, the big government solution is to assign fertile women the position of "handmaids," silent servants who are systematically raped in order to bear children.
Last year, anti-Trump activists seized on "The Handmaid's Tale" as a political cudgel, suggesting that the slightest limitation on abortion would equate to a regime of systematized rape of women.
In May, Hillary Clinton warned that if the United States government defunded Planned Parenthood, "The Handmaid's Tale" would not be far behind. Abortion activists in Ohio, Texas, and Missouri have all dressed up like handmaids to protest pro-life legislation. When the Republicans came out with a bill to repeal and replace parts of Obamacare, SJWs on Twitter compared it to "The Handmaid's Tale." To make matters worse, the cast and crew of the series declared that they had "joined the resistance" against Trump, suggesting that they also think Trump is implementing this dystopian future.
The premise of "The Handmaid's Tale," and the suggestion that Trump or anyone associated with him would ever countenance such a hateful submission of women, is bad enough, but Wolf arguably compared Sarah Huckabee Sanders to the worst character in the novel and show.
Aunt Lydia, played excellently by Ann Dowd, is not just part of the oppressive regime — she is the enforcer. She patrols the quarters of the "handmaids" to ensure silence, she assigns handmaids to watch one another, and she leads the handmaids to carry out brutal punishments to anyone who steps out of line. In one chilling scene, she orders the other handmaids to stone one of their sisters to death.
Comparing Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Aunt Lydia is arguably worse than calling her an "Uncle Tom," even though that phrase is much more offensive to black people. Perhaps knowing just how harsh this was, Michelle Wolf immediately moved on — to attack Vice President Mike Pence.
Of "The Handmaid's Tale," this "comedian" said, "Mike Pence, if you haven't seen it, you would love it!"
In another short phrase, Michelle Wolf echoed the disgusting suggestion that evangelical Christians — and Pence in particular — are fundamentally oppressive. LGBT activists harbor a special hatred for the vice president, throwing a "queer dance party" at his house on the eve of the inauguration and throwing a "pride parade" mocking him explicitly in Pence's hometown. Margaret Atwood, the novel's author, said that Pence was the "model" of her forced-birth dystopia.
Such suggestions are absurd, because "Gilead" is based on a Bible passage often cited by Christians as a cautionary tale against polygamy. In Genesis 30, Jacob's wives Leah and Rachel, anxious for children, tell their handmaids to have sex with Jacob, claiming the resultant children for their own.
The Bible serves multiple functions. While Christians believe it is the inspired Word of God, the book (it is actually more a library) records many stories meant more as cautionary tales than moral suggestions. The story of the dueling wives, besides being history, is most likely recorded to suggest the fundamental social problems with polygamy. The general theme of the Bible — from Genesis to Jesus' words in the gospels — suggests that human beings were designed for marriage between one man and one woman.
No evangelical would advocate for "The Handmaid's Tale," and the left's susceptibility to this offensive comparison suggests that far too many liberals have no idea what Christians really believe, and simply stigmatize them as oppressive and hateful with no basis (like the Southern Poverty Law Center frequently does).
Wolf said that she didn't want President Trump impeached, because Pence would become president. She attacked Pence as "the kind of guy that brushes his teeth and then drinks Orange juice and thinks MMM!"
Compounding this weird ad hominem attack, the "comedian" went on to advocate for abortion. She noted that Pence "is also very anti-choice. He thinks abortion is murder, which first of all, don’t knock it till you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you’ve got to get that baby out of there."
Michelle Wolf delivered offensive line after offensive line, verging into the anatomical correctness of "pussy hats," insinuations that House Speaker Paul Ryan got too much snipped off at his circumcision, and multiple masturbation and orgasm jokes. While she was occasionally correct, her disgusting diatribe even put off many members of the liberal media.
Peter Baker, an MSNBC analyst and chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, put it well: "Unfortunately, I don't think we advanced the cause of journalism tonight."
Some liberal journalists even championed Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "That [Sanders] sat and absorbed intense criticism of her physical appearance, her job performance, and so forth, instead of walking out, on national television, was impressive," the New York Times's Maggie Haberman tweeted.
Some current and former Trump allies will have their reputations boosted by the White House Correspondents' Dinner. When Michelle Wolf joked, "It’s 2018 and I’m a woman, so you cannot shut me up, unless you have Michael Cohen wire me $130,000. Michael, you can find me on Venmo under my porn star name Reince Priebus," Priebus, who was in the audience, actually laughed and gave a "thumbs up."
In a better world, the liberal media attacking Michelle Wolf for her attacks would mark the high point of anti-Trump hysteria. Even left-wing journalists saw these attacks as a bridge too far, but Wolf is likely to become a hero in many "progressive" circles nonetheless. Do not expect the "Handmaid's Tale" attacks on Trump, Pence, or Sarah Huckabee Sanders to end any time soon.
Watch Michelle Wolf's speech below, but only if you want fits of anger for the next 24 hours.