Apparently, Sen. Chuck Schumer referred to a flight attendant as a "bitch" (not to her face.) A House Republican aide overheard the remark and ran to the Politico, which promptly typed it up as though it was news.
That, believe it or not, isn't the ridiculous part.
Here's the ridiculous part: The National Republican Senatorial Committee, recognizing that they aren't going to defeat Chuck Schumer anytime soon, decided to try to spin this into a scandal for Sen. Kristen Gillibrand. No, Gillibrand didn't call anyone a name -- but she was sitting next to Schumer at the time! Don't you see? She's doomed!
Well, Politico's Ben Smith fell for it:
Word that Chuck Schumer called a flight attendant a "bitch" in comment to Kristen Gillibrand may be more damaging to Gillibrand than to the senior senator.
Nobody in New York, or Washington, thought Schumer was the politest soul or nicest person in Congress, or voted for him for his politesse. He's rock solid politically at home -- a place where rudeness is considered a virtue -- and his political trajectory is toward the sort of office held by notable nice guys Lyndon Johnson and Tom DeLay.
Gillibrand, by contrast, has been unable to make much of an impression in her year as an appointed senator, according to recent polling. She's dogged by the perception that she's merely a second vote for Chuck, and personally not as forceful a character as a New York Senator ought to be. Her conduct here -- silence toward Schumer's jibe, followed by her staff's telling my colleague Anne Schroeder that Schumer was "polite" to the flight attendant -- feeds both those impressions.
"We also hope his fellow Senator and passenger Kirsten Gillibrand will rightly condemn these actions by her colleague," NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said in a statement this morning, but Gillibrand spokesman Matt Canter declined, in an email, to rebuke Schumer in any way.
Now, keep in mind that nobody -- not even the House Republican aide who gave Politico the story in the first place -- contradicts Kirsten Gillibrand's staffer's statement that Schumer was "polite" to the flight attendant.
Actually, don't bother keeping that in mind. Smith's write-up is silly enough even without keeping the facts in mind. Kirsten Gillibrand is in trouble because she was sitting next to Chuck Schumer when he said something rude to her, and because her spokesperson said Schumer had been polite to a flight attendant? Please.