SWEET: Duckworth, McMorris Rodgers zing at Gridiron

Monday, 04 December 2017, 07:19:08 AM. For Duckworth and McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking GOP woman in Congress, the dinner was their debut on Washington's political humor scene.

WASHINGTON — Sexual harassment revelations, partisan wrangling, plus President Donald Trump’s Tweets and attacks on the press, provided fodder at the Gridiron Club and Foundation’s winter dinner on Saturday, with the headliners Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.

I’m the president of the Gridiron, a club of Washington, D.C., journalists. Our dinner took place at the end of a week with waves of news.

At the top of my speech, I said, “I’m not sure if you have been checking your phones . . . But there is a breaking story. . . . Rex Tillerson just got some devastating news.

“He’s still working at the State Department.”

For Duckworth and McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress, the dinner was their debut on the Washington political humor scene. The club has a rule about these things: “The Gridiron may singe, but it never burns.”

Which leaves a lot of leeway.

“Look at us here,” Duckworth said of the black tie crowd, only hours after the Senate Republicans pushed through a tax overhaul bill every Democrat opposed. “Dressed like we’re getting a big tax cut.”

When it was her turn, McMorris Rodgers zinged, “I know it’s been a long evening already . . . but don’t try to leave early. Matt Lauer helped us with all the locks.”

That’s a reference to a detail about the fired “Today Show” host after sex-harassment accusations. He could lock his office door with a button at his desk.

Duckworth, a wounded Iraq war vet, taking aim at Republicans zapped, “Sure it’s not easy to be a senator without legs . . . but really . . . it’s not harder than being a Speaker of the House without a spine.”

As the House Republican Conference Chair, McMorris Rodger lamented how she, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and the other GOP House leaders have to “struggle with the great questions of the day in Congress.

“Like, will the Freedom Caucus finally realize you can’t impeach a former President. . . . Or will Nancy Pelosi add Al Franken to her list of American icons?”

That icon reference: What Pelosi, D-Calif., the House Democratic leader, called Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., when his sex scandal broke. A few days later she said he should resign.

THE BABIES IN CONGRESS

Since the birth of our nation, only 10 congressional women have given birth while holding office.

Just 10.

And Duckworth and McMorris are two of the 10.

Duckworth gave birth to a baby girl in November 2014, while she was a member of the House. McMorris Rodgers holds the record for having three kids while in Congress.

Alluding to Congress, I noted the two lawmakers “really know a lot about working with babies,” a theme they touched on in their droll speeches.

Duckworth said, “We both deal with drooling, crying, colicky infants. . . . And then, when we leave work, we both have small children at home.”

And as McMorris Rodgers said, “Only in Congress can having a few kids make you a trailblazer . . . at least when you are a woman.”

DUCKWORTH A LA TRUMP

Nowadays, said Duckworth, the “ultimate sign that you’ve made it in DC” is when Trump labels you with an insulting nickname.

And she seemed a bit miffed that she’s been ignored by the president. After all, what more does she have to do?

“I’m Asian. I’m disabled. I’m a woman. And we know he doesn’t like people who were shot down.”

So Duckworth had a few suggestions: “Not So Fly Girl” and “Peking Duckworth” or “Lame Duckworth.”

ON A SERIOUS NOTE

What is not a joke is Trump’s relentless attacks on journalism, calling stories he does not like fake news.

Without using Trump’s name, McMorris Rodgers said, “transparency and accountability means less fear of government and more sunlight for the American people.”

Said Duckworth: “I truly believe the most patriotic thing you can do for this country isn’t wearing the uniform — it’s questioning authority and speaking your mind.”

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