I guess one could say that Kellyanne Conway and Taylor Swift have … bad blood?
I apologize. I know I shouldn’t have gone for the low-hanging pun. However, it’s fair to say that now that Taylor has apparently made up with Katy Perry — the original target of the song in question — Swift’s newest bête noire may be the presidential adviser, who used the pop star’s own lyrics against her after Tay-Tay’s stunt at the MTV Video Music Awards on Monday.
So, in case you missed the VMAs or Swift’s recent turn toward political activism, there’s a bit of backstory here. Taylor was there to perform her song “You Need To Calm Down,” which also won video of the year.
As The Hill noted, the music video for the song ends with a link to a Change.org petition in support of the Equality Act, a piece of Democrat legislation that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.
Proponents of the bill say it’s necessary to extend civil rights protections to LGBT individuals. Critics, meanwhile, contend that it protects unscientific notions of “gender identity” and that it raises significant religious liberty issues.
While Swift was performing the song during Monday night’s show, “Equality Act” flashed in yellow, computer-generated script. Just in case you didn’t get the message.
And then, when she won the award for best video of the year, Taylor pointed to her wrist to signal that it was high time the White House responded to the Change.org petition regarding the Equality Act.
“At the end of this video, there was a petition, and there still is a petition, for the Equality Act. It now has half a million signatures, which is five times the amount it would need to warrant a response from the White House,” Swift said.
Anyway, on Tuesday, Conway appeared on Fox News and was asked about the performance. She managed to turn things around by using the lyrics to the song that Swift won the award for.
The interview is below. The Taylor Swift part starts about the 12-minute mark.
“I actually like the new Taylor Swift song. It’s called ‘You Need To Calm Down,'” Conway said.
“I can sing it for you, you know, where she says, ‘If you say it on the street that’s a knockout. If you put it in a tweet that’s a cop-out.’
“I love that. That basically is Washington in a nutshell,” she said.
Conway went on to say that she thought “when Hollywood and singers and all go political, it sounds in the moment like it’s very popular, and we’ve seen so many times where it backfires and it blows up.”
She then pointed out that Swift’s first political endorsement was of Democrat Phil Bredesen during the 2018 midterms in Bredesen’s Tennessee Senate race against Marsha Blackburn. In a year where Democrats did pretty well for themselves, Bredesen actually crashed post-endorsement and wasn’t even close to Blackburn in the final tally, losing 55 percent to 44 percent.
I don’t know if that endorsement counted as saying it in the street, but it certainly wasn’t a knockout. As for Taylor’s current issue, putting “Equality Act” in a cheesy script in the background of your performance at the VMAs and then giving a desultory finger-wag during an acceptance speech doesn’t quite fit into the whole “street/tweet” dichotomy, but I’d say it’s a lot closer to the latter than the former.
Then again, that’s how most of this celebrity evangelizing ends. There’s far more “tweet” than “street” involved. It’s difficult to take the perma-woke seriously when they’ve hardly read about the issues they’re supporting, much less why anyone would have a legitimate reason to oppose it.
Instead, their analyses all seem to reduce to, “Issue I like: good. People who oppose it: bad.” The “You Need to Calm Down” performance at the VMAs is a perfect example. Watch it, if you must. If not, here’s a synopsis: Taylor and her crew meet up with some laughably evil stereotyped homophobes and manage to stand up to them with their sheer energy and vitality, along with a lot of bad computer-generated nonsense.
It’s really bad when a stereotype of people who stereotype is so legitimately terrible that you almost feel they didn’t do homophobes justice. Except, here’s the problem: Taylor Swift and other celebrities supporting the Equality Act aren’t fighting homophobes, or at least aren’t doing so exclusively. What they’re fighting, for the most part, are people who have legitimate qualms with the legislation. Is the way to win people over by portraying them as cartoonish bigots?
And these are legitimate qualms, mind you. In the Washington Examiner on Tuesday, Brad Polumbo mentioned several serious issues with the legislation. The most glaring one: “First off, the Equality Act does a lot more than just make people equal. It adds sexual orientation and gender identity to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, enshrining full protections under the law and trampling over the right to religious freedom enshrined in the First Amendment,” he wrote.
“In cases of competing rights claims, the Equality Act mandates that sexual and gender minorities win by default, when current standards under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act allow for a weighing of both sides. This doesn’t make gay and transgender people equal — it elevates their rights over those of religious minorities.”
As for the White House, well, they did respond — and it wasn’t exactly what Swift was hoping for, as you might have imagined.
“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, the House-passed bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights,” a statement from White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere read.
Hopefully, Taylor can manage to shake it off. I know, I know. I’m so sorry.
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