That was Kellyanne Conway’s response to the New Yorker’s harrowing account of the abuse four women say they suffered from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned Monday night. Not horror, or fury or sympathy for the victims who came forward. A single, smug “gotcha” of sadistic triumph.
Conway wasn’t alone among Republicans in crowing over Schneiderman’s downfall. Donald Trump Jr. also did what he does best — act like a jerk on Twitter — resharing with almost palpable glee earlier missives from his father insulting the now-former top prosecutor. Their cause for celebration wasn’t only the wrenching out of a prominent thorn in the president’s side. It was what they saw as a platonic case of Democratic hypocrisy: Progressives proclaim their devotion to the feminist future and #MeToo moment publicly, while privately many are as monstrous as the Republican politicians who have seen their misdeeds exposed.
So are they right? Yes — but also, not at all.
For those who’d like to criticize Democrats for coming out swinging when it’s the other guy but taking it too easy on their own teammates, one line in the New Yorker’s story offered some help: When one of the women Schneiderman allegedly abused told her friends, some of them argued he was “too valuable a politician for the Democrats to lose.”
The sentence surely is damning — of the “friends” of this woman who prioritized party politics over her well-being, and the well-being of the others left vulnerable to the allegedly abusive attorney general. Whether those friends’ reactions were emblems of endemic Democratic hypocrisy, though, is less certain. Relying on that one quote along with a handful of angry random Twitter users, some presented a narrative of pushback to the accusations, acting as if influential liberals agreed that the loss of this party avatar couldn’t be borne. But in fact, the most influential liberals in this case were busy stripping Schneiderman of their support.
Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York called not only for Schneiderman’s resignation but also an investigation into his alleged wrongdoing. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed and announced that he would direct a district attorney to proceed with a probe. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell devoted portions of their programs to the developments.
Now look at the other side of the spectrum. Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, the liberal Media Matters’ Matt Gertz says, have never even mentioned the scandal swirling around Republican Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who is accused of using an explicit photograph to blackmail a sexual partner. Incidentally, Greitens is still in office. Just like President Donald Trump, who has been credibly accused of assaulting at least 16 women.
In the simplest terms, the parties are not the same. The Republicans who seized on the Schneiderman report for point-scoring purposes revealed a meaner streak of morality-free partisanship than the Democrats who, though they did have something to lose, wasted no time expressing their abhorrence.
The Schneiderman story reminds us that there are monsters everywhere, in both parties. Worse, many of those monsters probably trumpet their pro-woman credentials even as they march through life hurting those they claim to help — just the way Schneiderman went after Harvey Weinstein on the clock and allegedly copied his playbook off-hours or, more eerily still, wrote an anti-strangulation bill in the New York State Senate by day and allegedly choked his sexual partners without their consent by night.
Democrats’ willingness to discard Schneiderman shouldn’t provide them the same cover he won for himself by wearing a feminist mask. They refused to make themselves complicit in Schneiderman’s belief that he was bigger than the law. But there’s a reason a woman’s so-called friends could tell her a man’s political career mattered more than her personal safety: Until now, it often has.