Opinion: “Pansy” reference in Hillary Clinton endorsement raises some hackles


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North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley’s high-profile embrace of Hillary Clinton may not play out as an unalloyed asset for her. The main sound bite he delivered in endorsing her presidential candidacy today sparked criticism (muted, for the most part) for being an insult to gays.

Referring to his own reputation as a hard-charging politician, he said, ‘I’ve been accused of being persistent and downright aggravating.’ As Clinton stood next to him in an auditorium at North Carolina State University, he added, ‘But this lady right here makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy.’ (More about the event is available here.)


The first definition in Webster’s New World Dictionary for pansy is ‘any of various violets.’ But then there’s this: ‘[Slang] an effeminate man; esp. an effeminate male homosexual: often a contemptuous term.’

Although Barack Obama’s overdue stiff-arm of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright overwhelmed coverage of virtually anything else in politics today, Easley’s comment did not go completely unnoticed.

As of this afternoon, a handful of blogs had commented on it, including this post on The Smoking Gun, which noted that when Clinton ...

‘stepped up to the mic to accept Easley’s endorsement, (she) said nothing about his ‘pansy’ comment.’

The Drudge Report linked to this item, meaning awareness of Easley’s phrase is likely to grow.

We checked with the Washington headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s premier group promoting gay rights, and it already had a statement in the works.

Trevor Thomas, the group’s deputy communications director, sent out this e-mail a few minutes later: ‘We certainly wish the governor would have chosen his words better and have expressed our disappointment to his staff.”

We’ve asked the Clinton campaign for a comment but, as of now, nothing has been issued.

-- Don Frederick