Waters is the longest-serving black woman in Congress
"It went viral. I was just being me," Waters said
It lasted all of 30 seconds. Rep. Maxine Waters was at the podium to explain just what she thought of FBI Director James Comey after a briefing on the Russia investigation.
Waters: Can I help you? What do you want?
Reporter: Can you tell us anything about the discussion?
Waters: No, it’s classified. And we can’t tell you anything. All I can tell you is the FBI director has no credibility.
It was that barely there January news conference that introduced Maxine Waters to millennials.
She is now “Auntie Maxine,” a GIF-able, highly quotable and T-shirt worthy progressive darling.
An article on Elle.com declared: “Congresswoman Maxine Waters Will Read You Now.”
A Salon writer listed five reasons Maxine Waters should be our next president.
(She has no plans to run.)
And BET hailed: “Maxine Waters is Crowned the Queen of Shade.”
It’s not hard to see why she got that title – even though she had to ask her grandkids what “throwing shade” means. (See Merriam-Webster: “Shade is a subtle, sneering expression of contempt for or disgust with someone – sometimes verbal, and sometimes not.”)
Waters’ shade is sometimes verbal, and sometimes not.
“She makes the best faces, the perfect black women faces, faces that say 1,000 words without (her) saying anything,” said Brittany Packnett, who donned a “Maxine the Maverick” T-shirt as she posed for selfies with Waters at a Friday night event. “Social media is perfect to display that.”
For Waters, elected in 1990, the new-found attention is puzzling and energizing. She has ramped up her social media presence, headlined rallies and open mic nights.
“Did you come to be with Auntie Maxine?” she asked a cheering crowd Friday at Busboys and Poets.
Recalling the press briefing, Waters expressed – in much more colorful language – what she was up to, and seemed puzzled by the response.
“When I came out of that classified briefing, I wanted to let people know that bulls*** had just taken place,” Waters said. “It went viral. I was just being me.”
Waters, the longest-serving black woman in Congress, has attracted the kind of Internet buzz not seen since Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose rumpled look and talk of revolution endeared him to mostly white millennials, particularly young men. Waters is a favorite of the black twitterati and a fairly broad swath of progressives, who find her blunt talk of resistance and impeachment refreshing.
“It’s important for us to have her back and for us to follow her lead and to encourage people with similar platform,” Packnett said. “Now is the time when we need people to publicly, actively practice courage.”