Is it even humanly possible to be sleazier and more disgusting than the Harvey Weinsteins of Hollywood?
Well, sadly, and clearly…yes. There are politicians.
The rush of women coming forward to accuse powerful men of sexual assaults and harassments has hit our nation’s political class like Al Gore’s much-prophesied rising sea level, but all in one wave. Especially in Washington, where just this week a photo surfaced of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) groping a sleeping Leeann Tweeden, who accused the senator of more misbehavior when she was awake, and two congresswomen announced that two unnamed congressmen — a Democrat and a Republican — continue to bipartisanly “serve,” though women have privately accused them of sexual misconduct.
It has gotten so wild that folks on the Left are now even re-considering the free pass they handed President Bill Clinton on those terrible and terribly numerous accusations twenty years ago.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told an interviewer this week that President Clinton should have resigned over his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky. The New York Times published an op-ed by Michelle Goldberg entitled, “I believe Juanita [Brodderick],” who leveled a rape accusation against Clinton.
A New York Daily News editorial referred to Clinton as “president and pariah,” and argued, “Democrats must own up to how, blinded by partisanship, they consistently failed to take seriously the many accusations against Clinton” and how they “even launched smear campaigns to discredit women claiming to have been victimized.”
In The Atlantic, the subhead on Caitlin Flanagan’s article was direct: “Feminists saved the 42nd president of the United States in the 1990s. They were on the wrong side of history; is it finally time to make things right?”
Better late than never, I guess.
But, as Marjorie Williams wrote in Vanity Fair way back in 1998, Bill Clinton “has been sued for sexual harassment over an episode that allegedly included dropping his trousers to waggle his erect penis at a woman who held a $6.35-an-hour clerical job in the state government over which he presided. Another woman has charged that when she asked him for a job he invited her into his private office, fondled her breasts, and placed her hand on his crotch. A third woman confided to friends that when she was a 21-year-old intern she began an affair with the man — much older, married, and the head of the organization whose lowliest employee she was. . . . After their liaison was revealed, he denied everything, leaving her to be portrayed as a tramp and a liar. Or, in his own words, ‘that woman.’”
Juanita Brodderick wasn’t mentioned, but Williams did include “the law-enforcement officers who say the man used them to solicit sexual partners for him.” She chided feminists, sarcastically, that “these problems are apparently of an order so subtle as to escape the notice of many of the smartest women in America — the writers, lawyers, activists, officeholders, and academics who call themselves feminists.”
When Patricia Ireland announced that the National Organization for Women would not file an amicus brief in the Paul Jones sexual harassment case, she couched the decision in legal reasoning, but admitted, “We are also disinclined to work with the disreputable right-wing organizations and individuals advancing her cause,” citing their “long-standing political interest in undermining our movement to strengthen women’s rights and weakening the laws that protect those rights.”
NOW also claimed its membership opposed taking a stand against Clinton, ten to one.
And while we reckon about their reckoning, let’s realize there remain plenty of left-wing feminist voices toeing the old Clinton playbook. Kate Harding, co-host of the Feminasty podcast, called the behavior of liberal Democratic Sen. Franken “disgusting” in her Washington Post op-ed, but felt compelled to add, “I don’t believe resigning from his position is the . . . consequence . . . that’s best for American women.”
Of course, allegations have been hurled at President Donald J. Trump as well. Not to mention Trump’s own horrific statements surreptitiously caught on audiotape and played to the nation.
Depressed enough? Nah, let’s give the Congress its due.
Take your pick of the most disgusting, sexually abusive scandal and realize that there is a difference between that and congressional-style sexual harassment.
For starters, Congress led the way downward, not only into a culture rife with sexual coercion, but also into one with few options for victims and plenty of protections for victimizers. Members of Congress have given more effort to keeping complaints quiet and protecting misbehavior than to stopping their own misbehavior.
Of course, this is Congress, so the molestation is not just sexual. “Between 1997 and 2014,” the Washington Post reports, “the U.S. Treasury has paid $15.2 million in 235 awards and settlements for Capitol Hill workplace violations, according to the congressional Office of Compliance.” That’s shelling out nearly $1 million a year, though the information doesn’t detail how many complaints were for sexual misconduct.
The Office of Compliance has now updated this figure to $17 million between 1997 and 2017.
It is despicable when individuals or companies pay hush money to silence accusers, hiding the criminal sexual behavior of powerful men. But, for goodness sake,!
Regarding the swirling allegations against Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) recently argued that Moore “does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”
Well, then, he will fit right in.