NOW gives former senator baby bottle tops in protest
Published: Thursday, September 30, 2010
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05
WASHINGTON - To protest to remarks made by a top economic policy official, the National Organization for Women called for his removal Wednesday by giving him a gift.
NOW President Terry O'Neill went to a National Commission on Financial Responsibility and Reform meeting and gave a bag of baby bottle nipples to commission Co-chair Alan Simpson. While O'Neill offered her "going-away gift," about a dozen protesters picketed outside the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
"He gave us, frankly, the opportunity to inject a little levity in response to him, but actually the message is very serious," she said.
O'Neill brought some of the estimated 1,500 bottle tops in a cellophane bag, wrapped with purple ribbon and tagged, "To Alan Simpson, From NOW." O'Neill said that for every $5 donors gave, NOW would buy one rubber nipple.
O'Neill's plan was to give Simpson the nipples as he walked through the hearing room's main door. When he came through a side door, she rushed into the room and gave them to him, saying she hoped he will "have the decency to resign from the commission."
In an August e-mail to Ashley Carson, executive director of the Older Women's League, the former Wyoming senator and minority whip compared the Social Security program to "a milk cow with 310 million tits," adding, "Call when you get honest work!"
Simpson has long had a reputation for making impolitic statements.
His remarks prompted NOW to start the "Tits for an Ass" campaign, which calls for Simpson's removal from the commission and prompted the baby bottle nipple donations.
"The main thing I think right now is for people to really shine a spotlight on what Alan Simpson wants to do to Social Security in the name of fixing the deficit," O'Neill said.
Simpson declined the nipples and suggested they be taken to a children's hospital.
The bipartisan commission began its meeting after O'Neill and Simpson spoke for a few moments and shook hands.
Paul Posner, director of the Public Administration Program at George Mason University, supported performance-based budgeting. Janet St. Laurent and Patricia Dalton, of the Government Accountability Office, spoke about reducing wasteful spending.
Simpson didn't address NOW's criticism during the hearing, but co-chair Erskine Bowles, President Bill Clinton's chief of staff, defended Simpson's stance on Social Security.
"For those of you here today that want to save Social Security, I can assure you that the one thing Alan Simpson talks about is simply making Social Security solvent for 75 years," he said. "You don't have to worry about Alan Simpson."
O'Neill said her main message was to urge the commission "to understand Social Security really has nothing to do with the deficit" and that she found Simpson's comment about "honest work" the more offensive of the two.
"Using foul language - fine," she said. "He's a man who uses foul language. But accusing a woman who has dedicated her career to helping older women - and accusing her of not having honest work is outrageous."
Adam Liebendorfer, a double major in journalism and Spanish at Ohio University, is participating in the Scripps Howard Foundation's Semester in Washington internship program this fall. He may be reached at email@example.com.