Sarah Huckabee Sanders attended Saturday night's White House Correspondents' Dinner as a visibly annoyed representative of the Trump administration. The divisive press secretary looked uncomfortable as host and Daily Show contributor Michelle Wolf went all in on her views of everyone from congressional Dems to Ivanka Trump and Stormy Daniels. But Wolf had special ire for Sanders, who she compared to Aunt Lydia, one of the darkest characters on contemporary television. Wolf joked that she loved Sanders as “Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale. Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.” She then directly attacked Sanders lack of truthfulness with the press.
While many applauded Wolf’s critiques, the takedown elicited boos from the crowds and others have taken to Twitter to defend Sanders. Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer wrote that the dinner was a “disgrace” and that comments about Sanders were “absolutely disgusting.” Others have weighed in that Wolf’s comments were an unkind joke about her looks.
Though the Aunt Lydia joke was sharp, it was not a reference to Sander’s looks, unless you think Ann Dowd, who plays the character, is unattractive (she’s not). The Aunt Lydia jab was a direct reference to how Sanders is used as a tool by Trump and, arguably, the entire patriarchy to keep women down. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the Aunts are a class of women assigned to brainwash new Handmaids with the government’s beliefs and mores, and help the women accept their fates as birth vessels. Aunt Lydia uses torture, such as shocking Handmaids with cattle prods, whipping them, and partially blinding one divergent Handmaid in an effort to gain complete obedience. “I’m sorry, Aunt Lydia,” is one of the first phrases that a new Handmaid learns.
In season 2, which gets even more bleak (warning, spoilers ahead!), Aunt Lydia has the women rounded up and brought to an out of use sports field, where they are nearly hanged for not following her orders. Aunt Lydia is given a lot of power by the leaders of Gilead; as women who are beyond the childbearing age and sympathetic to the cause, Aunts control the destiny of enslaved women. They literally hold the lives of Handmaids in their grip. They actively strip away both the rights of other women and their control over their bodies, all while convincing them it is in their best interest.
Sanders is used as a mouthpiece to protect those in the Trump administration. Much like Aunt Lydia, she lies to Americans who are having their rights stripped away. For instance, Sanders falsely stated that immigrants coming to the US through the diversity visa program aren’t vetted before their arrival. Meanwhile, Trump has been working to remove Dreamer’s rights to undocumented immigrants who were legally allowed to work and study in the country. She has tried to tell American woman that the Trump administration's effort to remove birth control from mandated health coverage is all about religious freedom. Apparently that is more important, and more endangered, than having control over ones own body. Sanders has also protected those who are accused of crimes against women (much like Aunt Lydia). Recently, she came under fire for protecting former White House aide Rob Porter after accusations of disturbing alleged domestic abuse.
“You should’ve done more research before you (asked) me to do this,” Wolf said of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Burn.
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