Who’s the real victim here?
Is it Eric Greitens, the Missouri governor who seems to still harbor dreams of becoming president one day?
Or is it “K.S.,” the hairdresser who says she was mauled and groped and threatened during the course of a far-less-extensive affair with the governor than previously believed?
The governor is clearly convinced that he’s the victim. He laid out his case in a jaw-dropping statement to reporters Wednesday afternoon prior to the release of a special House committee’s investigative report into the governor’s alleged wrongdoing. In his appearance, Greitens resurrected his campaign-trail, rat-a-tat-tat attacks, just as if he were back on TV all over again, firing one of those big guns.
“This is nothing new,” Greitens intoned. “When I came into politics as an outsider, I was attacked with falsehoods every day. They attacked my service as a Navy SEAL. They attacked my service to veterans through The Mission Continues. They attacked my humanitarian work. Since we got into office, they have attacked us every single day.
“But know this: They don’t scare us. We’re not scared by their lies. We are not afraid of their falsehoods.”
Fear. Combat. Attack. Courage. Righting wrongs. Things are black, or they are white for this former Navy SEAL. As he’s demonstrated over and over again, Greitens doesn’t know humility. He’s a warrior even when the cause is lost, and there’s no more glory to be found.
The word from the Statehouse afterward was that Greitens’ performance had convinced some of the few Republicans who were standing by him to finally give up the ghost. Within hours, Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, one of only two women serving in the state’s U.S. House delegation, said Greitens’ behavior “surpasses disturbing.”
Even more significantly, Attorney General Josh Hawley, the GOP’s likely U.S. Senate candidate this year, demanded that Greitens “resign immediately,” saying that the case against the governor was “impeachable.” On Thursday morning, Congresswoman Ann Wagner, the second woman in the House delegation, called Greitens “unfit to lead.”
Greitens’ self-imposed victimhood status included a reference to reports that surfaced in January that one of his encounters with the woman occurred while his wife was giving birth. The story was false and was quickly knocked down. But Greitens used it Wednesday as yet another example of yet another raging media falsehood: “It was a lie, and they’ve continued to lie throughout this entire process.”
Greitens insisted that a court of law will find him innocent, and maybe it will. But the legislative report released this week was carefully considered. The committee’s five Republicans and two Democrats found K.S.’s testimony credible.
The report was released when it was said to be at the center of an intense behind-the-scenes battle that involved some of the Republican Party’s top officials. Credit House Speaker Todd Richardson, who continues to impress, for standing his ground and releasing the findings of this very public matter despite withering pressure to delay it.
Greitens used the term “witch hunt” three times in the first 84 seconds of his statement. By refusing to resign, he’s the one prolonging this drama and dragging his wife and children through the one of the ugliest ordeals in state history.
“I’m overwhelmed with sadness for the state,” said Republican state Rep. Jean Evans.
For the state, yes. But not for Greitens. He’s not the victim here, even though he’d like us all to believe otherwise.