The latest Politico magazine features a long read by Liza Mundy on "The Secret History of Women in the Senate." While the whole article is surely fascinating, I'd like to focus for a moment on the tantalizing anecdote laid out in its first two paragraphs.
Kay Hagan just wanted to swim. It was late 2008, and the Democrat was newly arrived on Capitol Hill as North Carolina's junior senator-elect. But Hagan was told that the Senate pool was males-only. Why? Because some of the male senators liked to swim naked.
It took an intervention by Senator Chuck Schumer, head of the Rules Committee, to put a stop to the practice, but even then "it was a fight," remembers pollster Celinda Lake, who heard about the incident when the pool revolt was the talk among Washington women.
The story isn't exactly brand-new: Hagan spoke about it—apparently minus the nude swimming bit—at a "pro-choicewomen's luncheon" in 2009 shortly after her election, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. Architect of the Capitol spokeswoman Eva Malecki told the Observer at the time that Hagan was mistaken—"There are no rules prohibiting women senators from using the pool"—so if it existed, the boys-only policy may have been de facto, not de jure.
The awfulness of powerful men who feel threatened by powerful women knows no limit, so let's assume for a moment that an unspoken rule did exist. Who are these garbage boys who were so intent on swimming in the nude with their fellow garbage boys that they fought to keep women senators out entirely?
Have you purified yourself in the waters of the swimming pool at the Senate gymnasium, or do you know someone who has? Leave your baseless gossip and innuendo in the comments, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.