October 29, 2019

Katie Hill Resigns

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“Freshman Rep. Katie Hill, a rising Democratic star in the House, announced her resignation amid an ethics probe, saying explicit private photos of her with a campaign staffer had been ‘weaponized’ by her husband and political operatives.” AP News

Redstate first reported the allegations last week. RedState

See past issues

From the Left

The left argues Hill is being held to a double standard, and criticizes the release of the photographs.

“If, as has been alleged, she had a consensual sexual relationship with a staffer in her congressional office, the 32-year old Democrat should have earned a slap on the wrist. To show how seriously Congress has taken that sort of thing (not), it wasn’t even until last year that the House changed its rules to prohibit sexual relationships between members and their employees. And wouldn’t you know it — the first lawmaker to fall afoul of the new House rule is a woman, and an unabashedly bisexual woman at that…

“Quite apart from the harsh double standards faced by female politicians — they can’t be too shrill, they have to be likable, on and on — Hill is also being punished, or punishing herself, for one colossally fantastically unbelievably stupid move: Posing for nude photographs, alone and with a woman who appears to be a lover, while running for Congress.”
Robin Abcarian, LA Times

“Revenge porn is a scourge that some legislators, including those in Hill’s home state of California, have criminalized. In revenge porn cases, an angry ex (usually, though not always, a man) publicizes nude or sexual photos of someone (usually a woman) they want to humiliate and whose reputation they seek to damage. While we don’t see sexually active men as morally questionable, we still live in a world where sexually active women are branded as sluts and shamed them for their sexuality — which is exactly what’s happening to Hill…

“Publishing sexualized photos of a U.S. congresswoman to facilitate her former partner’s revenge fantasy crossed a bright line. If nothing else, this moment should push legislators all over the country to institute stiffer penalties for revenge porn — both for those who release these photos and for those who publish them.”
Jill Filipovic, Medium

“I am not saying that Katie Hill didn’t show a serious lack of judgement. Any sexual relationship with a subordinate is almost always unethical… It would have been right of her to publicly apologize for this lack of transparency and ensure a fairer course moving forward… [But] Katie Hill is a not a predator. She is not a rapist or sexual assailant

“Her crime is far worse than that in our society: she is a woman — a bisexual woman at that — who has lived beyond the ludicrous, impossible restraints we put on women’s sexuality, particularly those in the public eye. Men in power, particularly white men, are permitted a hero’s journey in their indiscretions, a moral arc in which they can make mistake after mistake — because even the most horrible transgressions are called ‘mistakes’ when you’re a white male — and transcend to a higher plane of humanity that better informs their leadership style. Women who transgress even slightly are pilloried and burned at the public stake as an offering to whatever moral gods our society supposedly worships.”
Elizabeth Anora, The Independent

“Former Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana? In 2007, he admitted to having been previously involved in a Washington prostitution ring while in office. In 2010, he was reelected to the Senate. Republican 2020 presidential candidate Mark Sanford? He completed his second term as the governor of South Carolina after he admitted in 2009 that he'd had a taxpayer-funded affair. In 2013, he once again ran for and won a seat in Congress. Physician and Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee? A divorce trial transcript released in 2012 documented that he'd previously had multiple affairs with patients and had pressed one of them to have an abortion…

“And this is to say nothing of President Donald Trump, who has remained unscathed by the allegations that more than a dozen women have publicly leveled against him, ranging from unwelcome advances to sexual harassment and assault… There's plenty to parse regarding the news about Hill. But one of the most important elements is this: Forgiveness, when it comes to the messiness of politics, is a privilege not evenly distributed. More specifically, it's disproportionately withheld from women and Democrats.”
Brandon Tensley, CNN

Others note that “[Warren] has provided more detail on Medicare financing than Sanders has. She has also provided more overall policy detail, including on the taxes she would raise, than Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg. And her Medicare plan comes much, much closer to paying for itself than various Republican tax cuts. I wish the conservatives complaining about her plan applied the same rigor to their own ideas… The biggest weakness of Warren’s approach is that it tries to bulldoze through the sizable public anxiety about radical changes to the health care system. Warren would not let people opt into Medicare, a wildly popular idea. She would force them to join… she needs to come up with a reassuring transition plan soon.”
David Leonhardt, New York Times

“Trump’s defenders will say this evidence is all circumstantial. But circumstantial evidence is not weak evidence: it’s simply evidence based on the circumstances in which an act of wrongdoing is committed — such as the license plate of a car that speeds away from a bank just after that bank is robbed. Criminals are convicted on such evidence all the time. They will also say that there’s no explicit quid pro quo proposal here. But… ‘even when a corrupt deal is struck implicitly, the government can still prosecute extortion on a quid pro quo basis. Circumstantial evidence can be enough to prove a criminal exchange.’…

“In the absence of an explicit quid pro quo over restarting aid, the context and circumstances are what will become the focus of the investigation. There is enough here to support impeachment. Whether it is also enough to convince Republicans and lead to removal is another matter.”
Noah Feldman, Bloomberg

Some suggest that Congress “remove Trump from office, so that he cannot abuse incumbency to subvert the electoral process, but let the American people make the judgment on whether or not he gets a second term… Removing Trump from office for the remainder of his term would disable him from abusing presidential power again and protect the integrity of the electoral process from inappropriate interference. At the same time, letting him run for a second term would permit the American electorate to decide whether Trump, despite his attempt to subvert the system, should have another chance… Decoupling removal from disqualification lowers the stakes and changes the constitutional calculus. As long as Trump can run again, Republicans cannot hide behind a claim that they are [the] ones protecting voter choice by opposing impeachment.”
Edward B. Foley, Politico

From the Right

The right condemns Hill’s behavior, and accuses her defenders of hypocrisy.

From the Right

The right condemns Hill’s behavior, and accuses her defenders of hypocrisy.

“Flip Hill's gender, and we wouldn't even be discussing it. This was a clear abuse of power by a powerful person over a subordinate… The pattern of behavior here indicates that Hill didn't just wind up in a one-off affair with someone who happened to be younger than her. She deliberately began relationships with people she had the power to hire and fire, and then she violated House ethics rules while doing it…

“The conclusion of this unsavory saga isn't a slut-shaming indictment of third-wave feminism. If Hill happened to have a promiscuous personal life with people not under her pay or in violation of ethics, there's little doubt that she'd be able to ride out the storm… this is, in fact, a #MeToo success story, one that proves that the powerful, even women, can still be held to account.”
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

“There is simply no denying that if a photo leaked of a male congressman, in the nude, brushing the hair of his 22-year-old staffer, and if leaked text messages revealed that that staffer felt like a ‘toy’ for said congressman, none of Hill’s defenders would be standing in that congressman’s corner…

“The media demand that we see Hill as a casualty of patriarchal oppression. This would be hard enough to stomach in its own right, but its downright vomit-inducing when you consider that Hill’s defenders are the very same people who have spent the last several years insisting that consent is murky, if not impossible, when one of the people involved in the act holds significant power over the other. But of course, these MeToo crusaders only meant for that principle to apply when it is a man who is in the position of power. Which is another way of saying that it’s not a principle at all.”
Matt Walsh, Daily Wire

“By claiming that Hill was the victim of a political smear, she and her supporters showed no concern for the vulnerable 22-year-old who was preyed upon by her boss… The same people who demonize males for far less gave Hill a free pass for her egregious abuse of power. The Guardian even helpfully has explained the ethical distinction between men and women committing the same offense: ‘When Hill engaged in an affair with a campaign aide, she did not do so in the context of millennia of men’s sexual violence against women.’ Seriously? This despicable sophistry undermines everything the ‘MeToo’ movement is meant to be about.”
Miranda Devine, New York Post

“If Hill wants to crusade against revenge porn and hold her husband accountable for whatever alleged violations he committed, good for her. It’s a scourge for its victims and should carry significant penalties for those who traffic such images without full consent. However, ‘revenge porn’ — if it was that at all — was only at best the mechanism for Hill’s downfall. Hill made the decision to have a sexual affair with her subordinate in clear violation of House rules…  That’s why she finds herself on her way out of the House, not ‘right wing media’ — with Nancy Pelosi’s boot right behind her.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

“It’s true men often get away with bad behavior, albeit less so in the past few months. Feminism should not reinvent itself to mean women can get away with the same bad behavior. That’s not the kind of optimistic, aspirational, morally infused gender equality we need… Nancy Pelosi this week once again proved her understanding of how normal Americans think about these sorts of contentious issues. In the wake of Hill’s resignation, while the progressive Twitterati has been quick to defend the soon-to-be-former congresswoman, and slow to acknowledge her missteps, Pelosi has been brief but clear…

“As for the tired notion that it’s conservatives who get away with everything and Democrats who always rush to valiantly own their mistakes and, when necessary, step down, let us remember how half the senior politicians in Virginia stand credibly accused of either sexual assault or having dressed in blackface and calls for them to resign have dwindled and died. Men, women, Republicans, Democrats — we should expect more of everyone.”
Daniella Greenbaum Davis, Spectator USA

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

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