One doesn’t need to ask why President Trump nominated conservative economic columnist Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve Board. It has long been clear that Trump prizes servile loyalty over competence. As The Post’s Catherine Rampell pointed out, Moore has reversed his positions on everything from free trade to immigration and inflation to better appease Trump. No, the question is why Moore would subject himself to what has been a reputation-deflating experience.
And, no, I am not thinking of Moore’s economic views. I am instead thinking of his self-proclaimed ability for comedy. As reports in outlets including CNN and the New York Times have revealed over the past few days, Moore’s writing dating back to more than a decade ago ranted about women in sports, decrying everything from female referees to equal pay for female athletes. Moore defended the old columns and notes as “a spoof."
Oh, really? Some barely read as humor columns at all, while even the others supposedly written in jest reveal attitudes toward women that range between frat-house puerile wannabe and economic sexist troglodyte.
Moore, unlike a professional comedian or humor writer, rarely makes himself or anyone he respects the punchline. Instead, he is always punching down, not up. We are discussing a man with such a stunning lack of maturity and gravitas that he felt impelled to make a sexist joke about a 5-year-old girl in an article raging against the evils of … co-ed peewee soccer leagues. The problem, you see, is that because some girls are bigger than boys, the former can damage the latter’s self-esteem. “Secretariat in pig tails,” he sneered about a 5-year-old girl he calls Kate Lynn. That’s not all. Moore complains about “moms” who “taunt opposing players” and “nag the coach unmercifully.” As for Moore, who claims to read a newspaper quietly while all this mayhem is going on? The mothers say he has an “attitude problem.” I can’t imagine why they think that.
Other columns feature complaints about his wife. “Allison consumes, but she still doesn’t produce,” he wrote in one. In another, he talks about how a child inherited his looks and her brains — “a nightmarish outcome” — before going on to discuss “hitting on” women while chauffeuring his children, only to be repeatedly foiled by one child “drooling in the baby seat” while two others “start making weird faces” at the object of his would-be affections. This isn’t funny on the first read, but it takes on a creepier veneer when you realize that the Moores’ marriage ended a few years later after he began seeking out potential partners on Match.com without his wife’s permission.
While I’m not normally an advocate of dinging people for their personal lives as long as they involve consenting adults, I will make an exception if that person attempted to stiff his ex of more than $300,000 in child support and other settlement monies, all the while presenting himself as a defender of “traditional marriage.” Ha. Ha.
Moore’s columns are no spoof. This stuff reflects his real-life views. In 2017, for instance, he argued on a news program that men should “never have a meeting with a woman without someone else in the room” because a corporate executive told him so. He wasn’t trying to be funny. Nor was Moore attempting to bring down the house when he claimed in a non-spoof 2014 post that talking about the gender pay gap between men and women simply distracts from falling wages for everyone.
True, it’s unlikely these columns will bother Donald “Grab them by the p----” Trump. His administration has attempted to roll back women’s rights in myriad ways, such attempting to put a stop to an Obama-era initiative to combat the gap in pay by gender and by race (a court stepped in and stopped that), not to mention refusing to renominate Janet L. Yellen to chair the Fed in part because she was too short. And, yes, I get that standards change and that making jokes about how much money your wife is spending was not considered particularly offensive even five years ago, and certainly not in 2001, when he did it.
Moore is now complaining those opposed to his nomination are “pulling a Kavanaugh against me.” But you can only joke and otherwise opine on a topic so many times before people begin to ask questions about why you are so obsessed with it. I’m not going to guess at the reasons Moore seems to find the idea that women — and little girls — deserve economic, professional and personal respect so difficult, except to say that he has demonstrated that position so many times that he doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. His lack of traditional economic qualifications, as it turned out, were only one of the problems with his possible appointment to the Fed.