Imagine if you will two men, public officials in American politics (so we’re dealing with only two big political tents). These officials each belong to opposing sides of the political isle. The issue of sexual harassment is of particular significance to both.
For one, let’s call it the Gentleman’s standard. This official is accused of sexual harassment by one woman. She can’t keep her story strait, so the allegation is difficult to corroborate. But the public narrative is not deterred. We are told the following:
- character matters
- women don’t lie about this sort of thing
- the nature of the evidence doesn’t matter, only the seriousness of the charge
- the allegation itself should be treated as evidence
- therefore, the accused man is disqualified from public office on ethical grounds
For the other, let’s call it the Politician’s standard. There is no pretense of integrity in this scenario. This official is accused of sexual harassment and assault by numerous women. Some of them produce significant evidence to support their claims. But the public narrative is not deterred. We are told the following:
- character does not matter
- a man’s personal life has no affect on his professional life
- bimbo eruption (women lie about this sort of thing all the time)
- vast rightwing conspiracy
- when damning evidence is finally recognized (despite dismissing previous damning evidence) we are told it doesn’t matter anyway
- therefore, the accused man is not disqualified, leave him alone, move on
These two men are both confronted with allegations of sexual harassment and they are treated with opposite standards. Some of you are old enough to know exactly who is being described here. The Gentleman’s standard was applied to Clarence Thomas during his supreme court confirmation hearings. The Politician’s standard was applied to president Bill Clinton throughout his two terms.
To those of us who have the stomach to actually pay attention to politics, this is no surprise. Republicans and Democrats are treated very differently regarding scandals. For Republicans, allegations of sexual misconduct are serious matters; sexual harassment is sexual harassment. For Democrats, allegations of sexual misconduct are often no more than amusement; sexual harassment is nothing more than a meaningless sex scandal. If you defended Clarence Thomas, you didn’t care about women. If you failed to defend Bill Clinton, you didn’t care about women.
Enter Mike Pence. Pence knows politics works this way. He knows Democrats will be defended when sex scandals are made public, and he knows Republicans will be crucified. So he adopts a very reasonable policy to avoid putting himself in a situation where he can be too easily accused of such things. This has the twofold result of protecting his career and that oh-so-minor detail of guarding his marriage.
So what is the political left to do when it turns out Pence hasn’t provided enough room for them to manufacture an empty sex scandal? Easy – find a way to misconstrue anything else.
Pence’s recent admission that he doesn’t go to dinner alone with women he works with has caught the liberal left by storm. Instead of acknowledging the obvious political reality of the situation, they simply contorted the logic into some other form of scandal.
This photo, borrowed from Campus Reform, is a microcosm of the objection. The statement reads “Because women are people, not weird demons who you can’t be trusted to enjoy a meal with #NotMyCommencementSpeaker”.
If you haven’t heard, the fake scandal drummed up by liberals is that Pence is discriminating against women, making it more difficult for them to advance their careers by not giving them an opportunity to schmooze with him after hours. Does the notion of performing well AT THE JOB count for anything? On the other hand, has the political left completely forgotten about Rape Culture, the notion all men are predators and potential rapists? Does “Duke LaCrosse Team” mean anything to anyone? The fact Pence has often declined to dine with men after hours conveniently escapes mention in the criticism.
Notice, also, the swipe at Pence’s religious beliefs: the comment about demons is obviously meant to suggest he is some sort of religious extremist, given the well known fact Pence is Christian. Ah, gratuitous religious intolerance added onto the fake scandal. What’s cherry picking worth without the cherry on top? Douglass Gibbs at Canada Free Press has a good take on this fake scandal.
So the double standard is not available for those who want to attack Pence. But making up a fake scandal is always a valid option. Simply by being smart about defending himself, Pence is faced with a logical distortion only politically correct feminists could invent. This is the triple standard: it really doesn’t matter what happens, if a way can be found to make Republicans look bad, that becomes the official narrative of the day.
But if you think about it, you already know this. We all do. The main stream media has an obvious preference for the Democrat perspective on any and all subjects. That’s precisely what we see with Judge Thomas and President Clinton. There was a way to construe Anita Hill’s allegation against Thomas to make it appear more legitimate, and the main stream media ate that line hook, line, and sinker. And they delivered that line to the people with enthusiasm. There was also a way of defending Bill Clinton in which the women he abused were made to look like liars. While the mere allegation of impropriety was enough to convict Clarence Thomas in the eyes of his critics, suddenly the mere allegation of sexual misconduct was not enough by itself for Bill Clinton’s defenders (the same people who condemned Judge Thomas a few years earlier).
Even if you can’t stand Trump (and I sympathize with you), please defend his administration against this hypocrisy. Partly because of his high dislikability, Hillary Clinton’s hypocrisy wasn’t called out in the main stream press when she pretended to be a defender of sexual assault survivors. She had the exact opposite attitude as first lady when she defended her philandering husband by attempting to destroy any woman who made an allegation against him. Also partly because of his high dislikability, Trump was not defended on the matter of his past treatment of women when the media applied the Gentleman’s standard to him. They could just as easily have applied the Politician’s standard. They opted to attack him, rather than to defend him the way they defended Bill Clinton.
If you don’t want to defend Trump, at least hold liberals to their own standards. “But they don’t have any standards” some might retort. They claim they do. But their supposed standards are quite fickle (such as claiming to value free speech when they want to say something, but are eager to restrict other people’s right to speech). Please don’t let them get away with that. It does none of us any good to let the political left lie to us. Yes, one can say it does us no good to let Trump lie to us either, and you’re right (some of us said the same of Obama for eight years). But if you’re willing to call out Trump’s lies, why would you let other lies from the media, Hollywood culture, and Democrats go unchallenged? Don’t play that game. If you act like you care about truth and justice when Trump says something absurd, you can at least act like you care about truth and justice when other people lie about Trump, Pence, Jeff Sessions, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc. You don’t have to like any of those names to be intellectually honest. Truth works for the betterment of all of us. Play that game.
Keep in mind, there was a time when all politicians were expected to act like gentlemen.
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