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Amid cancer fight, Hirono’s force seems to grow

Mazie Hirono said her piece, turned away from the camera and I swear, icicles formed and broke in that D.C. hallway because she was so cold. A good kind of cold. A strong cold. An unflinching, target-nailing cold. You could almost hear the frost crunching under her shoes as she walked away.

Hirono was responding to Donald Trump’s Twitter attack on Sen. Kristen Gillibrand of New York this week, and to Gillibrand’s original point: that the women who have accused Trump of sexual assault should be taken seriously.

“The only way to stop this president who has a narcissistic need for attention — he’s a misogynist and an admitted sexual predator and liar — the only thing that will stop him from attacking us — because nobody is safe — is his resignation,” Hirono said. She wasn’t yelling. She wasn’t banging her fist or raising her voice. She was composed and her voice was even and that made her statement all the more powerful.

Do you remember way back a whole year ago when national news organizations were stubbing their toes and twisting their ankles to avoid the word “lie” when reporting on the President of the United States of America? It seemed blasphemous to use that word, even in the face of obvious lies, and so there was a period of awkwardly phrased stories about “untruths” and “falsehoods” and “alternative facts” before finally, in January, the New York Times used the word “lie” in a headline on a story referring to Trump’s claim about winning the popular vote. Still, the Times felt it had to justify such a bold move and published an analysis piece about why, in this instance, that word was apt.

But there was Mazie Hirono, just flat-out calling Trump a liar and worse.

Chills, brah.

Not only because of the words she chose that have so quickly lost their shock value, and not only because of the way she leveled her charges against Trump and her call for him to resign, but also because of who Mazie Hirono is, how we’ve known her in the past and who she has become.

I’ve written about this before, about how Mazie Hirono recently, even as she goes through cancer treatment, has shown a strength that wasn’t readily apparent during her days as a state legislator or lieutenant governor or even Senate candidate. In June, she went through surgery and was tweeting from her hospital bed and back in Congress to cast a vote just days later. Since then, though her cancer fight continues, her power seems to have grown. She stood by her Senate buddy Al Franken until the weight of accusations against him tipped the scales, and then she changed course and said her good friend had to resign.

Hirono, out from under the thumb of Hawaii’s old guard Democratic puppeteers, has become something of a firebrand. An ice-cold firebrand, if that’s actually a thing. She’s someone who got better with age, got stronger despite illness, became braver the more she became herself.