Friday, November 01, 2019

With Whom

Remember Al Franken? 
If you answered, "Yeah. He was that writer and sometimes performer on the old Saturday Night Live," then bravo for you because you watch a lot of old television. 
If you answered, "Yeah. He's the former senator from Minnesota who resigned in disgrace after allegations of sexual misconduct, then bravo for you because you watch a lot of current television.
How about Katie Hill? Perhaps you're not as familiar with Ms. Hill, but she is a recently-resigned member of the United States Congress from California. She shares something with Mister Franken in that they are both Democrats. And they both quit rather than accept the white hot lights of television and other media shining into their personal lives. 
What is different is that Ms. Hill was involved in a consensual sexual relationship with a campaign staffer. The problem may come from that word, "consensual" which just sounds dirty. Or maybe it's because she is a woman. Currently mired in a rather ugly divorce from her husband, Representative Hill was separated from her husband at the time of the affair. But explicit pictures appeared online of her with the campaign worker. Interestingly, one of Hill's congressional colleagues, Representative Duncan Hunter of California, is running for reelection despite being charged with using campaign funds to finance romantic flings with lobbyists and congressional aides. Did I mention that Mister Hunter is a Republican? And did I mention that the staffer with whom Ms. Hill was involved is a woman?
And now we find ourselves in the middle of a quandary: What part of this scandal is sex and what part of it is the sex of those involved? In 2019, is the outing of a member of Congress a bigger deal than using funds to buy  ski trips, nights out in Washington, D.C., and Uber rides between his office and women’s homes? 
What does Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi have to say? "We must ensure a climate of integrity and dignity in the Congress, and in all workplaces." That was for Katie Hill, whom Ms. Pelosi had been grooming a leadership position. Feel free now to make your own joke about "grooming" and "leadership position." 
I can't. 
It's just not funny anymore. 

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