I try not to grow more cynical as each year passes, but I’m conscious and I live in D.C. – so that’s like trying to not get wet when you fall into a creek. Accordingly, the Harvey Weinstein saga has me swimming in cynicism.
Weinstein is a Hollywood mogul who is a major donor and supporter for big league Democrats. Well, he was. Now he’s drowning in sexual harassment/assault accusations from women who suggest he used his star power to pressure them. Weinstein denies it, but he’s also been fired from his own company, his wife says she’s leaving him, and his representative confirmed he is entering rehab, so take that as you will.
This nasty business has a tough question seeping into the D.C. scene: Why have Democrats been so slow in speaking up, especially considering how long they have positioned themselves as champions of women? To be sure, some quickly denounced Weinstein’s alleged behavior and said they’ll return his donations. But plenty of others are taking a surprisingly long time to say anything. Cue the drumroll of cynicism; I think there are several reasons.
First: Political power players almost never turn on one of their own unless they are absolutely certain his/her power is gone. As long as Weinstein has even a remote chance of rebuffing the charges and regaining his mojo, many Democratic insiders don’t want to cross him.
Second: A lot of these folks stood super close to Weinstein until quite recently, and this is a big embarrassment. So rather than confront the hard questions that will follow a direct denunciation – like, “Hey, isn’t that a photo of you and Harvey on your office wall? Ever notice anything creepy?” – it’s easier to toss the picture and practice saying “Harvey who?”
And third: They don’t want to discuss Bill Clinton and his accusers again.
Before you Twitter-rant on me, let me say this is not partisan. I have no doubt Republicans would’ve done the same. Rather, this sordid mess lays bare the ugly reality that for all the talk about principles in this town, Weinstein’s greatest sin in a political sense is that he has tainted his money and imperiled his influence.
And without those? Well, let’s just say loyalty in D.C. is never thicker than a checkbook.