Don’t mess with Sen. Joni Ernst.
That’s the latest takeaway from Senate confirmation hearings to decide, of all things, who will sit on the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Unfortunately, President Joe Biden’s nominees for even such a seemingly innocuous post carry a lot of political baggage, including nasty social media postings deriding and ridiculing the esteemed senator from Iowa.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) confronted Beth Geer, Biden’s nominee for the TVA board, on Wednesday, over remarks in which she labeled Ernst “hideous.” Ernst noted that, in a written statement, Geer had explained that she was suitable for the job because she could “build relationships and work together.”
“And you believe civility is a fundamental aspect of your role on the Tennessee Valley board if confirmed?” Ernst observed, luring the unsuspecting Geer into the waiting trap. “I absolutely do, senator,” Geer responded.
Beth Prichard Geer, a former chief of staff for Al Gore, had just finished touting her respect for civility and ability to "build relationships and work together" when Ernst trotted out a life-size skeleton from Geer's closet indicating otherwise. https://t.co/wah0kvkh6l
— 🇺🇸 T.S. 🇺🇸 (@SuppUsa) April 7, 2022
“I think that appears to be a recent sentiment,” Ernst said, and then revealed a tweet Geer sent out in 2015, in which she wrote “hideous” as her response to a Fox News tweet about Ernst’s State of the Union rebuttal from that year. “Can you explain that tweet?”
At first, Geer prevaricated, saying she could not read the tweet. But after Ernst read it back to her, she explained: “Well, I apologize if I offended you, and I appreciate you bringing it to my attention. And I do, in fact, believe that civility is key, and I’m sorry that I did not demonstrate that, in your opinion, with that tweet.”
Unhappy with that reply, Ernst pressed Geer again about the tweet later in the hearing.
“Maybe you’ve had time to refresh your memory a bit. I’m not sure if you’ve made a habit of calling women that disagree with you ‘hideous,’ or if it was simply an exception, but please let me be very clear. I stand by everything that I said in my State of the Union response back in 2015.”
“Folks, this tweet is from 2015,” Ernst continued. “I’ve heard a lot about tweets, in the former administration. This is prior to that. This is not Iowa nice, folks. And I’m calling you out.”
Iowans are some of the nicest people in the world—but when you call them “hideous,” you better watch out.
“Miss Geer, when you called me hideous, were you referring to my appearance or to the views that I held, and are held by many Americans across this country?” the senator asked.
“For the clarification, obviously, I was not calling you personally hideous,” Geer hurried to point out, “and certainly not your appearance, and again I apologize if it came across that way, I mean no disrespect.”
But the senator was clearly not ready to let the matter go at that and explained that in her State of the Union response she had shared some deeply personal issues and experiences that reflected the interests and concerns of her constituents.
“The views I expressed in my State of the Union response were personal experiences. So maybe you didn’t appreciate that I grew up on a small, rural farm in an economically disadvantaged area of Iowa. Maybe you didn’t like that my mother had to put bread bags on my shoes when I went to school. Maybe you didn’t like that, but a lot of Americans have had the same experiences that I have had. And so to call my personal views hideous is an affront to half of America,” she said.
Ernst concluded by declaring that, despite her bipartisan record, she would not vote to confirm Geer’s appointment to the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Ouch. Forget Texas—don’t mess with Iowa.
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