By Colleen O'Connor
Odd what can change the course of history: A single shot (starting World War I); a speech, “Tear Down That Wall” (reuniting Berlin); a simple question, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” (ending Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s power).
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Scholars wrestle though whole libraries of material—often struggling for years—to identify those single moments that usher in new eras.
Not the elections, the summits, the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or discovery of possible life on Mars.
No, it was a tasteless rant about a woman who might bring down a President.
Not just any woman, but an adult film star. Stormy Daniels, the alleged mistress of Donald Trump.
Lesson No. 1—What Not to Do: Rudi Giuliani
While speaking in Israel, former New York Mayor and Trump attorney Rudi Giuliani strayed off message to laud Melania and Ivanka Trump as “classy” and dismiss Stormy Daniels as damaged goods.
“Beautiful women, classy women, women of great substance. Stormy Daniels?” he asked, writhing in disgust and distorting his face at having to even mention the porn star’s name.
“Explain to me how she could be damaged,” Giuliani went on. “She has no reputation. If you’re going to sell your body for money, you just don’t have a reputation.”
Watch the video and feel your response. It is visceral. The transcript pales by comparison.
The unintended consequences of Giuliani’s performance are now legend. Social media lit up with collections of old photos of the First Lady Melania’s early nude and semi nude modeling shots—she who, in another sense, also “sold her body for money.”
Caught by surprise—at the instant and angry blowback cries of “pig,” “misogynist,” “chauvinist,” and “disgusting,” Giuliani just doubled down.
Lesson No. 2—What to Do: Queen Elizabeth
For a contrast in behavior, binge watch The Crown on Netflix.
The British monarch’s admirable discipline and decency during her 67-year reign—amidst world wars, abdications, infidelities, family breakups and deaths—is the glue that has held the United Kingdom together.
She has not just experienced epic upheavals, but learned, evolved and matured into an authentic regal presence. An admirable one.
Contrast her recent actions with Giuliani’s. Queen Elizabeth reigns while Giuliani sputters and spits.
On June 3, the Queen’s birthday honor’s list named “Catherine Healy, 62, a founder of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit “for services to the rights of sex workers.”
Healy was instrumental in helping her country become the first to decriminalize prostitution in 2003. After 30 years of activism that began at the height of the HIV and AIDS epidemic, the queen recognized Healy’s contributions to the prevention of violence and promotion of human rights.
Queen Elizabeth reflects in the modern era. While Giuliani embraces a throwback century.
Lesson No. 3—The Political Numbers
These reflect a seismic shift. A trajectory—especially among white, college-educated women—that increasingly favors the Democrats in Congress. A perceptible shift from patriarchal power to matriarchal behavior.
In the latest NBC/WSJ poll, these women “prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress by a whopping 30 points (60 percent to 30 percent).”
“By contrast, men without college degrees have become more GOP — from R+26 in 2017 (58 percent to 32 percent) to R+37 now (64 percent to 27 percent).”
It is not just the #MeToo movement, the massive women’s march, the change in status due to no-fault divorce laws, the right to vote, access to education and a steady accumulation of wealth. Rather, it is a growing respect for the history of these gains; for the struggle and power that they entailed; and the decency and moral courage many cultures have demanded of women.
Women are exercising those strengths. They more accurately mirror the Queen’s behavior than Giuliani’s.
Real class? The Queen of England or the insulting former mayor? Watch the videos.
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.
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