Katie Britt’s Kitchen Nightmare | Vanity Fair

It should come as no surprise that the president who ended Roe v. Wade is apparently worried about winning over women voters. Donald Trump has spent the last year attacking women he can’t control, from E. Jean Carroll to Nikki Haley to Taylor Swift to Fani Willis to Tish James. And since the entire GOP has now become an arm of the Trump campaign, choosing Alabama Republican senator Katie Britt for the State of the Union rebuttal made perfect sense.

Britt is the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the US Senate. But more than that, she is telegenic and has two children, and according to her fellow Alabama senator polymath Tommy Tuberville, was “picked as a housewife, not just a senator.” Britt leaned into the housewifery of it all by giving her response in a large modern kitchen that seemed to be lacking appliances. 

Republicans were trying show that there is a place in this party for women, but with recent attacks on IVF, birth control, and no-fault divorce, it’s hard to see where that is. It’s also difficult to make the case that the GOP isn’t steeped in misogyny when the very next day, the head of the party put up a $91.6 million bond for the judgment in his defamation of Carroll, a woman Trump was already found liable in court for having sexually abused.

Like other young Republican stars before her—Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal—Britt fell victim to the State of the Union rebuttal curse. She’ll surely be remembered for her overacting and seeming, at times, on the verge of tears. Scarlett Johannson nailed Britt’s off-kilter performance on SNL and captured the GOP’s objective. “Republicans want me to appeal to women voters,” Johannson said, “and women love kitchens.”

Britt’s odd delivery aside, there was also the gloomy content. She swiped at Joe Biden for his campaign joining TikTok, suggesting the Chinese Communist Party spreads propaganda through the platform because “if it conquers the minds of our next generation, it conquers America.” At one point, she urged viewers to never forget that America is “steeped in the blood of patriots.” And most controversially, she told a graphic story of a woman whom she misleadingly implied was sex-trafficked in the United States during the Biden administration.

But in reality, the woman’s horrific ordeal took place in Mexico during the George W. Bush years, as The Washington Post’s fact-checker columnist noted in awarding the politician Four Pinocchios. Britt’s spokesperson told the Post that Karla Jacinto Romero’s harrowing account is indicative of trafficking now taking place under Biden’s watch. While over on Fox News, Britt seemed to suggest it was the viewers who got it wrong and not that she misled them. “I very clearly said I spoke to a woman who told me about when she was trafficked when she was 12,” Britt said. “I didn’t say a teenager. I didn’t say a young woman. A grown woman, a woman, when she was trafficked when she was 12.”

On CNN, Romero expressed disappointment in how Britt used her tragic story, saying, “I hardly ever cooperate with politicians, because it seems to me that they only want an image. They only want a photo—and that to me is not fair.” She said Britt “should first take into account what really happens before telling a story of that magnitude.”

In trying to portray America as somehow better off under Trump, Britt directed her “appeal to the parents out there—and in particular, to my fellow moms.” But good luck making the case that the guy who brags about overturning Roe in better for women and whose party is against the child tax credit, free school lunches, universal pre-K, and removing lead pipes is looking out for families. 

Defending Republican policies is one thing, but supporting a GOP front-runner who is known for musing that famous people like him can grab women by the genitals undermines one’s ability to take the moral high ground. It’s even trickier when your party is almost entirely built around a thrice-married adulterer who in two weeks will be a defendant in a criminal trial about election interference and the $130,000 dollar hush money payments he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. (Of course, evangelicals long ago made their peace with Trump despite his morally reprehensible character because the thinking was, “we’ll get the judges,” and in fact they did.) 

On Sunday, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Republican congresswomen Nancy Mace, who condemned Trump in the wake of the January 6 assault and who now endorses him for president, if she finds “it offensive that Donald Trump has been found liable for rape?” She replied, “I find it offensive that as a rape victim you’re trying to shame me for my political choices and I’ve said again, repeatedly, E. Jean Carroll has made a mockery out of rape by joking about it.” Mace, who was endorsed by Trump on Saturday in her reelection campaign, later called Stephanopoulos, who worked decades ago for Bill Clinton, a “Clinton crony turned fake journalist.”

Ultimately, the problem for a woman in the Trumpified GOP is you’re either defending policies that curtail women’s rights and threaten their lives—or you’re defending the awful words and actions of the party’s standard-bearer. It’s not a great place to be if your goal is to bring more women into the fold by November.

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