When WMAL podcast host Larry O’Connor was trying to grasp exactly what being put on a ventilator means, he had the right guest to answer the question.
Former New York congresswoman Nan Hayworth explained to O’Connor that, yes, being placed on a ventilator is the same as being intubated, or having a tube inserted into the windpipe, through the mouth.
For most of us “intubate” is a term from TV medical dramas. But not for Hayworth, who in addition to having represented New York’s 19th District in Congress, is a medical doctor, who graduated from Princeton University (summa cum laude) and Cornell University Medical College (now Weill Cornell Medicine). Hayworth trained at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital and has been a successful ophthalmologist in solo (she hung her own shingle in 1989) and group practice. Hayworth doesn’t consider herself a card-carrying member of the Tea Party, because of differences on several social issues, but, because of her combination of educational credentials, sophistication, and fiscal views, she was once dubbed “the Ivy League tea partier.” The title fits.
When she arrived in Washington in 2011, the New York Post described Hayworth this way: “Hayworth, a wiry 5-foot-2 in heels, possesses a kind of coiled, manic energy that threatens to explode but never does.”
Hayworth has been all over the airwaves since the coronavirus crisis broke—and one reason you’re likely seeing so much of her is that Hayworth can address the virus from both a political and medical perspective.
When Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who is African American, was targeted as a racist for suggesting that members of minority groups could reduce the threat of coronavirus by practicing healthier habits, former New York congresswoman Nan Hayworth let loose with one of her hard-hitting tweets.
Hayworth has been all over the airwaves since the coronavirus crisis broke.
“Deliberate, systematic, opportunistic, predatory, and utterly shameful racism–and not on the good Surgeon General’s part,” Hayworth tweeted.
One minute she’s taking call-in medical questions related to the pandemic on TV, and the next she’s addressing the political ramifications of coronavirus. After she wrote a piece “debunking various lies that had been promulgated to criticize the President’s approach to the crisis,” The President responded with a tweet: “Thanks, Nan.”
In Congress, Hayworth’s medical background also came in handy for analyzing the byzantine intricacies of the Affordable Care Act, which she voted to repeal, citing good intentions but an unworkable law. In Congress, Hayworth worked for fiscal restraint to nurture a dynamic economy, and not the sort of sluggish, controlled one that led her English mother, Sarah Margaret Badley—Peggy—to immigrate to the U.S. in 1948. When The Hill invited Hayworth to pen an article for Women’s History Month, she wrote, “I celebrate as the daughter of a courageous woman who entered the world as the subject of a king but was born an American in spirit, and later became one in fact. She taught me what being American means.”
Peggy’s father, a POW during the first World War, suffered severe emotional damage, and left his wife and child to fend for themselves. Raised by her mother, Peggy was a brilliant student who attended a prestigious high school on a scholarship, but she lacked money for college and went to work as a secretary instead. As an adult, Peggy often quoted Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” with its haunting line that “full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air.”
Nan believes that there was a special reason for her mother’s fondness for this poem. “I think that line she especially loved was a reference to many lost opportunities among those who didn’t have the chances that a lot of others did,” she said. Peggy was drafted into the British army in 1941. In London, where she worked as a clerk in underground army headquarters, Peggy lived through the German bombing. “If you’ve seen the movie Darkest Hour, my mother was one of those teletype operators in the Imperial War Office,” Nan says. Peggy came to see England, with its sluggish economy, as no place for an ambitious and talented young woman. In 1948 she sailed to America alone on the Queen Mary and almost immediately upon arriving in the U.S. landed a job as a medical secretary.
Hayworth can address the virus from both a political and medical perspective.
In 1950, Peggy met another World War II veteran, George Sutter, who had fought in the Battle of the Bulge. They married, and Nan’s campaign has featured poignant pictures of her parents in their military uniforms. George Sutter attended Ohio State on the GI bill, obtaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business and accounting. “Dad was recruited into the accounting department at Inland Steel Company in Chicago, Indiana. And he went to work for them and never left,” Nan says. Nan (named for Peggy’s mother) was born in Chicago in 1959 and brought up in Munster, Indiana.
The family was the crucible of Nan’s later political beliefs. “Dad had been a passive Roosevelt Democrat, and didn’t think a lot about politics, but he got his first paycheck, after undergoing his education and being in the workforce, and he looked at the taxes taken out of his paycheck, he announced ‘I’m a Republican,’” Nan recalls. In a moment of father-daughter bonding, when Nan was 16, George Sutter gave his daughter a copy of Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. Hazlitt’s book was based on the work of free-market French economist Frederic Bastiat, who influenced the Austrian School.
“Dad was a passionate free-market guy,” Nan recalls. “And he was one of those people who followed the Foundation for Economic Education, which published Friedman and the Austrian school economists. Dad was a scholar of these things, also a scholar of the Bible. My dad was a devout Lutheran. So, my dad made sure I had my religious education and read Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, which I did eagerly because I adored my father and I would do anything for him. And my mother, though she grew up in dignified relative poverty, was always a conservative—a passionate believer in both self-reliance and charity.”
Nan was a gifted and dedicated student, a spelling bee champ in the early grades, who once was presented to then-First Lady Patricia Nixon as one of the 1971 contestants in the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee. She graduated from Munster High School in 1977 and, because she was a National Merit Scholar, received invitations to apply to various colleges and universities. One was Princeton. “I think that’s a famous school,” she mused before looking Princeton up in Barron’s and learning that, indeed, that was the case. Her parents drove her east to see the school. “The sunlight was streaming through the trees into McCosh Hall and I was just smitten. I mean, I fell in love. Who wouldn’t?” she says. She was accepted by Princeton, from which she earned an A.B. in biology.
She immediately met the man she would marry. “On the first day of Freshman Week,” Nan recalls, “this young man came to my room door and said ‘Are you Becky?’ Becky was my roommate. And I said, ‘No but you must be Scott.’ And it was Scott Hayworth, our resident advisor. I swear to you, the thought just splashed through my head was that someday I would be telling our children that this was how I met their father.”
Hayworth was once dubbed “the Ivy League tea partier.” The title fits.
When they met, Scott Hayworth was a senior at Princeton, a focused pre-med student, while Nan was a freshman who spent the year “drifting around,” taking art history, psychology, and chemistry. “I was sitting, talking with Scott one day, and I must have looked pensive, because he said, ‘You want to be a doctor, too, don’t you?’ And I said ‘yes. Yes, I do.’” The Hayworths both graduated from Cornell University Medical College. He is an obstetrician/gynecologist. They live in Bedford Hills, New York and have two adult children, Will and Jack.
While practicing medicine and raising her boys, Nan found herself thinking more and more about the state of the nation. “I was worried that the very character of America was going to be changing in ways I would very much dislike. . . My comments were frequent and vivid,” she once recalled. “Scott finally said to me in December of 2008, after observing me on my 150th rant of the post-election season, ‘Maybe you should run for Congress.’ And it was one of those moments. It was as if my future was beckoning to me, my future self was reaching out a hand. And, at that moment, I said, ‘Well, maybe I should.’”
Before making a final decision, Nan decided to talk it over with the son of two of her patients. He knew a bit about politics—he was Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for George W. Bush. They had lunch together, and Fleischer absolutely loved the idea of Hayworth’s seeking public office. “I told her what a powerful voice she’d have as a female physician,” he said to a New York Post reporter. “Nan is a true-blue fiscal conservative: Don’t spend it if you don’t have it.”
In 2010, Hayworth threw her hat into the ring for New York’s 19th congressional district, north of New York City, and including parts of such affluent counties as Dutchess, Westchester, and Putnam. It was a swing district that George Bush won in 2004 and Barack Obama carried four years later. Endorsed by Rudy Giuliani, Hayworth was elected in a year of an anti-establishment sentiment that swept Republicans into office, temporarily ending Democratic control of the House.
On January 3, 2011 Nan joined 86 other freshman Republicans in taking up their places in the House of Representatives. Proclaiming his wife “truly brilliant,” Scott Hayworth graciously surrendered his ticket to the swearing-in ceremony in the House Chamber so that Nan’s proud father, George Sutter, could witness his daughter’s historic moment.
The President responded with a tweet: “Thanks, Nan.”
In Congress, Nan’s causes were limiting federal spending, cutting red tape and other pieces of job-creating legislation, and preserving Medicare and Social Security. When she cast a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, she said, “Our vote today to repeal is not merely symbolic. . . . We all honor the goals of the Affordable Care Act but this law increases spending, raises taxes, and destroys jobs.” The House passed repeal, but it was defeated in the Senate.
Hayworth was just as concerned about spending taxpayer money when prominent people in her district approached her. Once a wealthy and influential constituent came to her to pitch a green energy project. “Have you sought private investment for this project?” she asked. “He said that 16 different firms had turned him down.” Finally, after a protracted conversation, the influential supplicant said, “But this is my dream.”
“I don’t seek to upset people,” Hayworth recalls of the incident, “I’m not a confrontational person, but I am honest and I naively felt my job was to protect my taxpayers. And I asked him if it was his dream, why should the taxpayers pay for it? ”
When congressional district lines were redrawn in 2012, it was clear that she was going to have a hard race: her district, which had already had a small plurality of Democrats, now contained thousands more. Redesignated New York’s 18th congressional district, the contest for its representation pitted Hayworth against Democrat Sean Maloney, former aide in Bill Clinton’s White House. After a viciously-fought campaign and in the midst of the chaos in the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Hayworth lost to Maloney 48 to 52 percent.
Fiscal conservatives were dismayed at the loss, but Hayworth, who is a member of IWF’s Board of Directors, has carved out a niche for herself and is continuing her work to protect taxpayers and the American spirit. Indeed, we join President Trump in thanking Hayworth for using her political savvy and medical expertise to provide trustworthy commentary at a time when accurate information is at a premium.