by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
There are sexual harassers, and then there is John Conyers, the Democrat from Detroit who made his congressional office an adjunct of his libido.
The evidence suggests that Conyers believed that as a 27-term congressman, he was entitled to the Washington, D.C., equivalent of the Ottoman imperial harem.
He routinely hit on his female staffers, and his office was a den of sexual intrigue — allegedly featuring a jealous wife and a vindictive mistress — that properly belongs in a Bravo reality show if the network ever extends its franchise to Capitol Hill.
A political party is rarely provided an easier test case for its bona fides. Conyers is an 88-year-old man who finds it increasingly difficult to carry out his duties. He holds an exceedingly safe seat that, should he resign, will be taken over by another reliably progressive Democrat. In this case, the political cost to the party of showing that it’s serious about “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment is almost nil.
Yet House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, when asked about Conyers on Meet the Press, mumbled and looked at her shoes. She wasn’t able to summon any dudgeon, let alone high dudgeon, about Conyers. The harshest thing she said is that “as John reviews his case — which he knows, which I don’t — I believe he will do the right thing.”
Oh, really? Conyers did step down as the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee. Otherwise, his careful review of his own case has produced categorical denials that even Pelosi must find incredible.