One of the minor intrigues around Gov. Phil Scott’s weekly press conferences is “What will Guy Page come up with next?” Page, the sole proprietor of the Vermont Daily Corpuscle (I think I got that right), usually comes out of right field with something straight out of the conservamedia talking point factory. Scott then answers it with his customary studied earnestness.
We got a priceless example yesterday. After asking a bloody-shirt question about an alleged crime wave of drug cartels robbing legal cannabis dispensaries, Page pivoted to the existential:
Governor, you’re the chief executive of an enterprise that includes the Vermont Commission on Women and other groups designed to benefit women. How would you answer the question, “What is a woman?”
The question came straight from Republicans in the U.S. Senate playing “gotcha” with Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Scott smirked, and then proceeded to fumble his answer. I’d run the full transcript here, but it’d be hazardous to your eyesight like staring directly into the sun. The “high points” of Scott’s meander were “I haven’t contemplated an answer to that,” “I just assume that [Commissioners] refer to them as, uh, as ‘her,’ ‘she,’ or ‘her,'” and “I haven’t heard any outcry from the Commission or a Commissioner or that, um, that, uh, entity.” Sheesh.
Oh, for the moral clarity of a straightforward “Gender is a complicated thing. You can’t boil it down to a single factor.”
Scott could have also turned the table on Page. Probably would have been effective, because it turns out that conservatives can’t answer the question either.
Reporters for HuffPost asked a bunch of Republican Senators fresh off putting the question to Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, and got a bewildering array of answers. For instance:
Sens. John Kennedy and John Cornyn flat-out ducked the question.
Marsha Blackburn dodged it three times before a spokesperson offered “two X chromosomes.”
Lindsey Graham said it’s someone who’s “biologically a woman,” whatever that means.
Mike Lee: “An adult female of the human species,” which is recursive reasoning at its best.
But taking the booby prize in this intellectual derby, you’ll be shocked to hear, was Mr. Iron Fist, Josh Hawley. “Someone who can give birth…. someone with a uterus.”
What about someone who’s had a hysterectomy? Would they still be a woman?
Hawley: “Yeah. Well, I don’t know, would they?”
Oh, the combined brain power of this biodeterministic clown car.
So maybe Guy Page should try answering his own question. Could he do it with greater clarity than “I know it when I see it” or “Did you have an innie or an outie when you were born”? I doubt it.
The failure of this group of conservative intellectuals to come up with a clear response suggests the real answer to the question: “It’s complicated.”