Last week, we helped illustrate the Democratic Party's hypocrisy and double-standards on sexual harassment and assault when the allegations in question are lodged against against powerful liberals. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi -- who hopes to reclaim the Speaker's gavel next fall -- proved that point again in extraordinary fashion on Sunday's edition of Meet the Press. Asked by anchor Chuck Todd about the scandal engulfing Congressman John Conyers, against whom three women have come forward with sexual misconduct or harassment allegations, Pelosi lavished praise on the Michigan Democrat and warned against a rush to judgment. This was quite an exchange:
PELOSI: We are strengthened by due process. Just because someone is accused -- and was it one accusation, was it two? I think there has to be. John Conyers is an icon in our country. He's done a great deal to protect women. Violence Against Women Act...he did great work on that. As John reviews his case, which he knows and I don't...I believe that he will do the right thing.
TODD: And is 'the right thing' what? Resign?
PELOSI: He will do the right that about what he knows about his situation. That he's entitled to due process, but women are entitled to due process, as well.
A muddled, terrible answer, especially after rambling about "zero tolerance" just moments earlier. (1) She interrupts herself to ask if there have been one or two allegations against Conyers. As we noted before, there are three so far, two of which are sexual in nature. (2) How is, 'well, he's only been accused, let's see what happens, and maybe he'll do the right thing' appreciably different than President Trump's standard on Roy Moore? (3) Why does Pelosi afford so much deference to Conyers by expressing confidence that he'll do the "right thing," whatever that means? Three women claim he's done the wrong thing, with one allegation suggesting that he abused taxpayer dollars to fly mistresses into DC. And the point (which she made twice) that he knows more about his case than she does is also a very strange comment in this context. What is that supposed to mean? He knows what he did, so it's best for him to decide what happens next? What? (4) Conservatives have been arguing that liberals defend their cretinous politicians because they vote the right way, and that gaining power and advancing an agenda supersede all other concerns. Right on cue, Pelosi goes out of her way to lionize a credibly-accused harasser as having "done a great deal to protect women," citing previous legislative votes. A true hero. (5) As for the "icon" gushing, anti-Trump conservative commentator Charlie Sykes couldn't help but draw this parallel:
Conyers seems to think so. (By the way, speaking of that infamous audio recording of Trump, is he seriously telling people that it was a fake?) Later in the interview, Todd asks Pelosi point-blank whether she believes Conyers' accusers. She says, "I do not know who they are, do you?" then punts to the Ethics Committee. Todd also pushes her on whether she'd call on Conyers to step down from his role as the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, as he ended up doing hours later. Answer: "I'm not sharing that with you right now." For all of her talk about "due process" (should Roy Moore get the same treatment? Senator until proven guilty?), what does she make of the settlement Conyers paid, then hid, then briefly tried to deny even knowing about? Even after decades of protecting and revering the likes of Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy, Democrats still want to pretend they occupy the moral high ground on "protecting women." They don't. Pelosi's performance yesterday helps reveal why her party's (justified) table-pounding about Donald Trump and Roy Moore falls on so many deaf ears:
Bingo. It looks cynical, calculated and selective. Because it is. Another cringe-worthy back-and-forth came when Todd confronted Pelosi with her defenses of Bill Clinton in the 1990's. Again, her answers were unpersuasive but telling:
She defended Clinton back then, she says, because he was being impeached over actions "that had nothing to do with the performance of his duties." First, is the commission of crimes like perjury and obstruction of justice tolerable so long as the violator is otherwise deemed to be doing a good job? And second, is she suggesting we should judge sexual harassment and assault claims against politicians through the prism of whether they're carrying out their official responsibilities well? If that's her new approach, who's to say that Roy Moore couldn't be a perfectly fine Senator in 2017, even if he did
prey upon high school girls back in the 1970's? Right, Nance? She also downplays the allegations against Clinton by contrasting them with the accusations of child molestation against Moore. Todd shoots back that multiple women said Clinton was a sexual predator, including a credible rape victim. Flummoxed, Pelosi retreats to demanding that everyone just "move forward," which is starting to look like an official talking point.
Finally, Todd (correctly) posits that perhaps we've arrived at our current cultural moment in part because people like Nancy Pelosi defended people like Bill Clinton for so many years. Not so, she retorts -- this is all about Donald Trump. Pitch perfect. For journalists who cannot fathom why many conservatives would stand by a reckless sleaze like Roy Moore, look no further than this Nancy Pelosi interview. Democrats -- openly, nakedly -- want one set of rules for themselves, and another for Republicans. And they expect everybody else to play along. Many people have seen enough, and are refusing to do so -- even if it means that both sides are now irreparably morally compromised. I'll leave you with this excellent point:
How rich that the a top-ranking Democrat is suddenly terribly concerned about due process when it comes to shielding a guy who's paid out at least one secret settlement over his misconduct when much of the Democratic reaction to Betsy DeVos' important defense of actual due process was hair-on-fire demagoguery. It really is just tribalism, all the way down.
UPDATE - This was her damage control mop-up job released last evening: