"The day I don't look at pretty girls, I die"

Maryland comptroller calls women "little girls" and ogles their butts. So what's the big deal?


Lori Leibovich
February 16, 2006 8:17PM (UTC)

At a Maryland State Board of Public Works meeting yesterday morning, a 24-year-old woman brought a cup of tea to 84-year-old Democratic Comptroller William Donald Schaefer. As the aide walked away, Schaefer -- how to put this -- stared at her ass and then motioned for her to come back. "Walk again," Schaefer demanded, in front of a crowd of 100 people.

The woman, an administrative aide to Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, became flustered, walked out and, according to an article about the incident in the Washington Post, later told co-workers that she was embarrassed. We can't imagine why!

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This isn't the first time the old codger has gotten in trouble for his loose lips. The Post says he has "provoked outrage" in recent years by calling for a public registry of people with AIDS and for complaining about a Spanish-speaking McDonald's clerk.

Yesterday's incident drew sharp criticism from women's groups and lawmakers, with Democratic Sen. Sharon M. Grosfeld demanding that Schaefer apologize publicly and "recognize the sexism inherent in his behavior." But Schaefer was unrepentant. When asked by reporters if he thought his behavior was offensive, he said: "That's so goddamn dumb I can't believe it. I look at one of the girls as she walked out. Big deal ... I look at the girls every time they walk out. The day I don't look at pretty girls, I die." While Schaefer later acknowledged that "the girl" had been embarrassed, he remained miffed about all the fuss. "The one who is offended is me," he said. "I can't believe you are making a deal out of that."

Even the women in Schaefer's office defended him.

"I think she overreacted, frankly," Louise Hayman, a longtime aide to Schaefer told the Post. "I guess she was surprised by it. There's a generational issue here." Hayman added that the women who work for Schaefer are not offended when he refers to them as "little girls."

"It sounds like he's demeaning you, but what he's really saying is he respects you," Hayman told the Post. "I know that sounds odd."

Yes, little girl. It does.

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Lori Leibovich

Lori Leibovich is a contributing editor at Salon and the former editor of the Life section.

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