In 1872, feminist icon Susan B. Anthony, in protest of laws that limited voting to those with a Y chromosome, decided to cast a ballot. She was tried and convicted of voting illegally and had to pay a fine of $100 — a bit more than $2,000 in today’s money.
Anthony died in 1906. She didn’t, in other words, live to see the 19th Amendment — the constitutional change that codified the right of women to vote, ratified Aug. 18, 1920, exactly 100 years ago.
But enough about that. On Monday, President Donald Trump announced he would pardon someone “very, very important,” according to Fox News. This led to all sorts of Chicken Little-ing on social media, despite promises that it would be neither National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden or former Trump administration National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
So: Paul Manafort? Roger Stone? What would the latest outrage be? Washington’s thumbs were ready, all a-twittering to a-Twitter. And the winner of the pardon sweepstakes was…
Susan B. Anthony.
“She was never pardoned. Did you know that? She was never pardoned,” President Trump told reporters from Bedminister, New Jersey, announcing the pardon. “What took so long?
“She was guilty for voting, and we’re going to be signing a full and complete pardon.”
Could there be any problem with this? Of course! Let me pass the mic to Democrat New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul so she can drop it:
As highest ranking woman elected official in New York and on behalf of Susan B. Anthony’s legacy we demand Trump rescind his pardon.
She was proud of her arrest to draw attention to the cause for women’s rights, and never paid her fine. Let her Rest In Peace, @realDonaldTrump.
— Kathy Hochul (@LtGovHochulNY) August 18, 2020
“As highest ranking woman elected official in New York and on behalf of Susan B. Anthony’s legacy we demand Trump rescind his pardon,” Hochul tweeted Tuesday.
“She was proud of her arrest to draw attention to the cause for women’s rights, and never paid her fine. Let her Rest In Peace, @realDonaldTrump.”
All right, so that’s less a mic-drop than a mic-fumble. But it tumbled to the floor and ended up there anyway, so, um, victory?
Hochul only had 280 characters or less to express her thoughts, however, so she could only sound so ridiculous. Thankfully, there was The New York Times — which had an entire article to devote to non-sequitur attacks and noted that Trump’s “pardon of the famed suffragist came as women celebrated the 100th anniversary of their right to vote, and in the middle of his attacks on mail-in voting.”
“Unlike other people the president has pardoned, Anthony is not someone whose work Mr. Trump has spoken of during his campaign or his presidency,” The Times reported, apropos of nothing.
After opining that the pardon “appeared to be an effort to distract from the Democratic National Convention and narrow the historically large gender gap that has him trailing Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the White House race,” Times staffers Maggie Halberman and Katie Rogers noted that Anthony — whose image on the $1 coin was the first time a woman appeared on a U.S. coin in circulation — has been had become problematic because of her association with the pro-life cause and her arrant whiteness.
“She is also an increasingly divisive figure, adopted by anti-abortion forces and criticized for relegating Black suffragists to the sidelines. On Tuesday, Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion political group, and Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who represents conservative groups, were in attendance as Mr. Trump made his announcement.”
Because The Times is at the ready to remind you of this, as well as the fact that Stone’s charges stemmed “from the investigation into possible conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.” You know, the one that turned out to be a dud.
Lest you think this is some junior newsroom figure trying to establish some cred, Haberman and Rogers are about as close to a Woodward-and-Bernstein duo as you’ll find at The Times these days.
After slagging Anthony and Trump’s clemency choices, two of the Gray Lady’s most esteemed reporters spend the rest of the article on Trump’s concerns over mail-in voting — making sure to highlight the most specious ones — and claim the Anthony pardon is a politically motivated move.
It isn’t just that Haberman and Rogers criticized Trump for issuing a posthumous pardon because it’s politically felicitous, it’s the tone — almost that he’s the first man in his position who’s realized that this could “create a news story during the Democrats’ convention, where Mr. Biden will be nominated,” as those close to Trump told Haberman and Rogers.
I hate to play the turnabout game, but come on: Picture this tone being used if this was done during any other administration. The difference is every Republican administration is, for The New York Times, different from any other administration — particularly the Trump administration. That’s why The Times gets to treat them differently.
As for Lt. Gov. Hochul’s demand that the president rescind the pardon, no. Just no. That logic only works if she was proud of breaking an iniquitous law that still existed. In 1920 — a century ago — any law prohibiting women from voting ceased to be constitutionally valid.
Oh, and by the way:
She believed she had committed no crime and that her right to vote was protected by the privileges and immunities clause of the 14th amendment.
She also petitioned Congress to rescind the fine.
She wanted the government to recognize that she had not committed a crime by voting. https://t.co/FvA9CdZcRN
— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) August 18, 2020
In short, the only reason Hochul is demanding Anthony’s conviction stay on the books is because President Trump is the one pardoning her.
It’s almost as if Trump could win re-election by endorsing Joe Biden. If he told voters how great of a guy the former vice president was, maybe we’d all remember Biden is a creepy, two-time failed presidential candidate saved from the dustbin of history because his bona fides running interference for the banking industry in the Senate helped Barack Obama prove to Wall Street he wasn’t that kind of radical liberal.
It might be worth a shot. After all, nothing else can induce the media to look at Biden critically.
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