By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
My first reaction to the whole Eric Massa craziness is that this is Reason No. 42 why we need more women in politics.
Then the Washington Post reported that Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office knew about concerns about Massa as far back as October. Now, this afternoon, the Daily Caller reports the House voted 402 to 1 to refer the charge that Pelosi mishandled the matter to the House Ethics Committee. This was the woman who promised to "drain the swamp" when Democrats took over the House. So much for that.
You'd think that as a woman, Nancy Pelosi would be a little more tuned into issues involving harassment, but apparently not. It's surprising that the entire House voted to refer charges against her to the Ethics Committee, 402 to 1. That's a statement.
Wouldn't term limits prevent some of this? Whether we're talking about Mark Foley or Charlie Rangel or others, there always seems to be a certain arrogance that sets in when people are in power for a long time. No wonder we can't get sane people to go into politics. And no wonder everybody wants to throw the bums out.
While there are plenty of politicians who don't do stuff like this, there are a few who ruin it for all. Almost everyone I know who has worked in politics--my sister and I both did--can tell you a story about a politician who is abusive to staff. Maybe not always sexual harassment, but there's plenty of abusive behavior and no recourse for staff. Political jobs are notorious for that--you can be fired at will and there's no EEOC to go complain to--and so these elected officials can say or do whatever they want. And their leaders don't call them on it, at least not yet. Maybe this ethics investigation will encourage the House leadership to put a stop to members who cross the line with staff.
It's ironic that it was a woman in the leadership who didn't stop it ... and that it was men, not women, who were being harassed ... but maybe it will result in some progress for the treatment of women on the Hill.
- Check out our political cartoons.
- Become a political insider: Subscribe to U.S. News Weekly, our digital magazine.
- Read Barbara Kellerman's commentary on America's resistance to leadership.