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Senator Klobuchar’s mistreatment of employees will haunt campaign

This article was originally printed in the Feb. 11, 2019 issue of The Round Table. 

Recently, news reports about Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have surfaced detailing her treatment of aides. This potentially spells trouble and controversy for Klobuchar’s 2020 presidential race. Starting off the election season with a contradiction to her message could throw off her entire season and cost her a bid for president.

The reports surfacing paint Klobuchar as a tyrannical ruler easy to upset and hard to placate. Those speaking out against her remain anonymous out of fear of retribution from Klobuchar. Among the incidents described by these former aides are instances of humiliation, anger at using staples or forgetting to charge an iPad.

The eight former staffers interviewed explain that Klobuchar’s anger at these small infractions is unpredictable and often extremely damaging. Reports say, “she yelled, threw papers, and sometimes even hurled objects; one aide was accidentally hit with a flying binder, according to someone who saw it happen, though the staffer said the senator did not intend to hit anyone with the binder when she threw it.”

The atmosphere in Klobuchar’s office was reportedly so tense that several former aides would be unable to hold back tears from the treatment they received. Klobuchar would reportedly send out emails berating employees for mistakes at work, sometimes even threatening to fire them, on threads containing many of those employees colleagues.

However, in the wake of these reports, many other former staffers and aides have been speaking out in support of Klobuchar. They point to specific instances in which Klobuchar supported them and believe sexism is a reason Klobuchar is being scrutinized so heavily. “Women shouldn’t be expected to nurture their employees or colleagues more than men, and they should be no less entitled to challenge them,” former director of scheduling Asal Sayas said. “As a strong woman, it was inspiring to work for another strong woman that was direct, incredibly smart, and a leader.” Former aides say that they knew Klobuchar’s reputation before they started working for her, but say her treatment was still far worse than they had expected.

Klobuchar is well known in the United States for her “Minnesota nice” attitude, her ability to get work done in Minnesota and most recently her questioning of Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court hearing. This branding, or messaging, of herself directly contrasts reports of her staff treatment. This contradiction could spell disaster for Klobuchar’s presidential campaign if the story continues to intensify in popularity. Voters will see her as a hypocrite and a liar unless she is able to carefully manage the story and respond correctly, which, with all of her experience, should not be hard. Klobuchar has been a state senator since 2006, and in that time has also gained a reputation in Washington for being one of the most difficult bosses on Capitol Hill. Reports from 2001-2016 say Klobuchar had the highest rate of staff turnover in the Senate, with an annual turnover rate of 36 percent.

The American public will ultimately be the judge of whether or not Klobuchar’s treatment of employees is bad enough to warrant her losing a presidential bid. Ultimately though, these aids say that, “the reason it matters is when I hear the descriptors of our current president and how he lacks responsibility and everyone is to blame, and there’s erratic behavior, name-calling. It’s unfortunate, but you’re also describing her.”

There are other factors to consider here as well. The former aides say that, “Klobuchar’s gender may have played a role in the way rumors about her spread so rapidly through Capitol Hill, but honestly, if it were a man doing these things, that story should be written.” The problem is that stories like this don’t come out about men in most cases, and if they do, there seems to be little to no repercussions for it. President Donald Trump used derogatory language to refer to women and has had many allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct leveled against him, but he is still the President of the United States. Kavanaugh was still appointed to the Supreme Court even after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forth to accuse him of rape.

While it is important to see how Klobuchar treats other people, it is also important to recognize that the coverage of this and that the way this is being depicted is most likely biased against her. This comes across both in the amount of coverage, but also in the language used. They are depicting Klobuchar much in the same way that they depict Hillary Clinton. While Klobuchar is well known for being kind, they are portraying her as a tyrannical woman who cannot control her emotions and lashes out whenever the slightest thing upsets her. Whether or not this is true, this plays along with one of the two tropes women in politics are usually lumped into. They are either shown as absent minded and lacking in intelligence, or as cold emotionless bitches. When analyzing for yourself the news stories and reports coming out, it is important to recognize the potential bias of yourself and of the media you are consuming when judging Senator Klobuchar.

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