It isn’t nice to take pleasure in the misery of others. But after years of being the butt of cruel jokes about our history of public corruption and organized crime, the Mahoning Valley can be excused for reveling in the insults hurled at the cities of Cleveland and Cincinnati.
This is the comment that has created a political firestorm, with Democrats pointing the finger of blame at Republican President Donald J. Trump – even though he wasn’t the culprit:
“If you want to live in the Midwest, where else do you want to live besides Chicago? You don’t want to live in Cincinnati or Cleveland or these armpits of America like that. You want to live in Chicago.”
The source of that verbal broadside was Stephen Moore, who is expected to be nominated by President Trump to serve on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors.
The president will demand allegiance from the Republican majority – and he’ll get it. The GOPers know they’ll suffer his political wrath if they do not support Moore, who formerly led the conservative Club for Growth and writes a column for the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Even so, Ohio’s senior U.S. senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown, a resident of Cleveland, is insisting that Trump not nominate Moore.
“That view should be disqualifying for the critical role of Governor of the Federal Reserve Board,” Brown said in a letter to Moore. “You just didn’t insult Cleveland and Cincinnati – you dismissed millions of Americans who work and live in small towns and cities across the industrial heartland, and who have been looked down on and left behind by Washington and Wall Street for decades. As a public servant, your job would be to fight for these Americans – something you cannot do when you don’t know the first thing about the places where they live.”
The senator, who had toyed with the idea of running for the Democratic nomination for president, demanded an apology and retraction from the Federal Reserve hopeful.
“Unfortunately, it’s not just your words that make your disdain for the American people clear,” wrote Brown, who serves on the committee that would conduct hearings on the nomination. “You have a long history of supporting policies that have directly contributed to the challenges faced by the millions of Americans in these towns and cities. Your positions on the economy, tax cuts for the wealthy, health care, financial regulation and farm policy show that you don’t understand the ongoing challenges these communities face and the policies that would actually help them.”
By contrast, Ohio’s other senator, Republican Rob Portman, who is a native of Cincinnati, doesn’t seem to share his colleague’s concern about Moore’s comments.
“If Stephen Moore meant that as a joke it was a bad one,” Kevin Smith, Portman’s spokesman, told Cleveland.com, the online edition of the Plain Dealer of Cleveland. Smith said his boss will carefully review Moore’s record and qualifications if he’s nominated.
But given that Republican Trump’s victory in the 2016 election over Democrat Hillary Clinton was due in large part to his success in Ohio, Democrats will undoubtedly turn this issue into a political weapon.
David Pepper, Ohio Democratic Party chairman, brushed off Portman’s desire to review Moore’s record and qualifications, saying, “There is nothing left to review, Senator. This man is absolutely not suited to this incredibly important post.”
But even if Trump believed that Moore’s insulting Cleveland and Cincinnati went beyond the pale, he would be simpatico with his expected nominee’s view of women.
According to Cleveland.com, Moore has said that women should not be allowed to referee men’s sports unless they’re good looking. He called it a “travesty” that women “feel free” to play sports with men.
Moore told CNN those comments were in jest.
“This was a spoof,” he said in an email to the network. “I have a sense of humor.”
Just as Trump had a sense of humor when, as host of the top-rated reality TV show “The Apprentice,” he said he could “grab women by their ------“ and no one would say a thing because of his power.
While the political fire-storm over Moore’s comments will not be doused any time soon, the people of the Mahoning Valley can find solace in the fact that “armpit” is not among the negative descriptions that caused us so much heartburn.
On the other hand, this predominantly Democratic region’s embrace of Republican Trump in 2016 may justify an “armpit” moniker.