Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady

Senator Arlen Specter has been in Washington long enough to learn a lot about politics. It’s shame he never learned anything about protocol.

The cranky and politically vulnerable senior Senator from the Keystone State revealed his outdated and utterly inappropriate mindset when dealing with women on a radio show this week where he snapped at Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, a Republican, demanding she stop interrupting him and act like “a lady.”

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, D-PENN.: Now wait a minute, I'll stop and you can talk.
SPECTER: I'll treat you like a lady, so act like one.
BACHMANN: Well, I am a lady.
SPECTER: My question to you was what did you vote for?
BACHMANN: I voted for prosperity. I didn't vote for the government takeover of private industry.
SPECTER: She said I voted for prosperity. Well, prosperity wasn't a bill.
BACHMANN: Well, why don't we make it a bill?
SPECTER: Now wait a minute me. Don't interrupt me, I didn't interrupt you. Act like a lady.
BACHMANN: Well, I think I'm a lady.
SPECTER: I think you are too, that's why I'm treating you like one but just don't interrupt me.

If this is how he speaks to a colleague during a radio interview, how does he treat his staff behind the scenes? What about his constituents?

His defenders are invoking all sorts of explanations for the gaffe. Some argue that this is how they talk on Capitol Hill, with men calling women "lady". Having worked there for years, I can assure you that is not true. And based on Senator Barbara Boxer's testy reaction when someone called her "ma'am," we know that formal titles are preferred. My favorite is the generational defense. The same excuse they used with Senator Harry Reid.

Both men speak and behave like they're operating in a different era -- one pre-equal rights. I’m not an ageist, but in these cases you can bet this Washington fixture has worn out his welcome, and worn through the patience of Pennsylvanians.

I’m waiting for the feminist groups to chastise him but I’m not holding my breath. As one of my astute Twitter followers put it: “Do you think (notorious feminist) Maureen Dowd of The New York Times will hear a "settle down sweetie" in his remarks like she did a 'You lie BOY' from Congressman Joe Wilson?”

A Pennsylvanian myself, I can tell you Specter’s days are numbered. This comment is simply another nail in his political coffin and more evidence that the Democratic Party -- albeit a new home for Arlen -- is coming unhinged.

Forget the fact that Specter's new party isn't popular already, establishment candidates, too, are unpopular. Especially ones with bad manners.

This stale and sexist mentality has no place in Washington, or in the workplace, and -- party failures aside -- this is enough of a reason to vote Specter and Reid out of power. Time in the real world could do them some good.

Andrea Tantaros is a conservative columnist and contributor. Follow her on Twitter: @andreatantaros.