Senator Smith was a “watcher”, but not for fish. She watched for bullshit.
And when she saw it, /5
Because in Senator Smith's time, ladies were expected to shut the fuck up and do the ironing, cleaning, and child-rearing. /6
To condense: her husband Clyde Smith was elected to Congress in ‘36. She went with him to DC. Then he got sick – very sick. /8
He died shortly thereafter, and a special election was held to replace him.
She won. /9
But a few months later, she had to run again in the regular mid-terms, against the popular mayor of one of Maine’s largest cities, a guy named Ed Beauchamp. /10
In 1948, she announced her candidacy for the seat of retiring Senator Wallace White. Her first hurdle? A 4-way GOP primary. Three men and her. /11
In the fall, she faced a Democratic opponent in the form of a big-city (Portland) doctor named Adrian Scolten. /12
She absolutely DEMOLISHED Scolten, earning 71% of the vote! /13
In early 1950, he gave a speech commemorating Lincoln's birthday at the Women's Republican Club in Wheeling, West Virginia. /17
She was no dove, so Senator Smith's initial reaction was along the lines of “wait, wut? omfg!” /18
But something smelled fishy to the Gentlewoman from [Skowhegan!] Maine. /19
A few days later, he said 57.
When he took to the floor of the Senate a few weeks later, and SPOKE FOR FIVE HOURS, he said 81.
A committee was formed to investigate, and was marred by partisan fighting. /21
Republicans responded by accusing him of whitewashing. /22
These men were basically saying, “Screw America, screw principles. What if this nutjob says something bad about me?!” /25
On June 1, 1950, the Gentlewoman from Maine (Skowhegan, the “watching place”!) entered the Senate chamber. /26
Over the next fifteen minutes, she would show these men what courage looked like. /27
She wanted Republicans to succeed, she said, but not if it meant “riding to political victory on the four horseman of calumny—fear, ignorance, bigotry, and smear”. /30
She said her fellow Republican had “debased” the Senate to “a forum of hate and character assassination”. /31
Ruined, chasing ghosts, he drank himself to death at 48.
I told her how awesome I thought she was. I told her she was a hero of mine. She was genuinely touched by this and was so kind and gracious and humble. /39