Clinton harassment excuses too little, too late, too self serving

Hillary Clinton has now admitted she was wrong not to dismiss an adviser accused of sexual harassment during her 2008 presidential campaign. She had been strongly criticised since a New York Times claim: Hillary Clinton Chose to Shield a Top Adviser Accused of Harassment in 2008

A senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign who was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing a young subordinate was kept on the campaign at Mrs. Clinton’s request, according to four people familiar with what took place.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager at the time recommended that she fire the adviser, Burns Strider. But Mrs. Clinton did not. Instead, Mr. Strider was docked several weeks of pay and ordered to undergo counseling, and the young woman was moved to a new job.

It is sadly typical that the person who was harassed was moved away from the problem rather than dealing properly with the problem.

It has been reported that Strider did not do the counseling.

Mr. Strider, who was Mrs. Clinton’s faith adviser, was a founder of the American Values Network and sent the candidate scripture readings every morning for months during the campaign, was hired five years later to lead an independent group that supported Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 candidacy, Correct the Record, which was created by a close Clinton ally, David Brock.

He was fired after several months for workplace issues, including allegations that he harassed a young female aide, according to three people close to Correct the Record’s management.

Those familiar with the accounts said that, over the years, a number of advisers urged Mrs. Clinton to sever ties with Mr. Strider, and people familiar with what took place did not want to see Mrs. Clinton blamed for the misconduct of men she was close to.

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton provided a statement from Utrecht, Kleinfeld, Fiori, Partners, the law firm that had represented the campaign in 2008 and which her advisers said has been involved on sexual harassment issues.

“To ensure a safe working environment, the campaign had a process to address complaints of misconduct or harassment. When matters arose, they were reviewed in accordance with these policies, and appropriate action was taken,” the statement said. “This complaint was no exception.”

Late Friday night, more than a day after The New York Times reached out to her aides for comment, Mrs. Clinton posted on Twitter that she was “dismayed when it occurred.”

Not dismayed enough to take appropriate action. Perhaps more dismayed that it has now been revealed.

She added that she called the woman on Friday “to tell her how proud I am of her and to make sure she knows what all women should: we deserve to be heard.”

A strange thing to do given her failure to give the woman’s complaints a suitable response at the time.

Clinton has also been awkwardly connected to Harvey Weinstein.

After several Hollywood actresses told The Times and The New Yorker that Harvey Weinstein, a longtime friend and donor to the Clintons, had harassed or assaulted them, Mrs. Clinton spoke out against his behavior, saying in a statement that she was “shocked and appalled by the revelations.”

Weeks later the actress Lena Dunham, one of Mrs. Clinton’s most visible celebrity supporters in her 2016 presidential bid, told The Times that she warned two Clinton campaign aides against associating with Mr. Weinstein. “I just want you to know that Harvey’s a rapist and this is going to come out at some point,” Ms. Dunham said she told the campaign.

Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy has been cited as an inspiration for the #MeToo movement, but she has not played a visible role in it.

Now Clinton has tried to explain her lack of appropriate action, and says that “If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t.”

The most important work of my life has been to support and empower women. I’ve tried to do so here at home, around the world, and in the organizations I’ve run. I started in my twenties, and four decades later I’m nowhere near being done. I’m proud that it’s the work I’m most associated with, and it remains what I’m most dedicated to.

So she starts with a promotion of herself.

So I very much understand the question I’m being asked as to why I let an employee on my 2008 campaign keep his job despite his inappropriate workplace behavior.

The short answer is this: If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t.

In 2007, a woman working on my campaign came forward with a complaint about her supervisor behaving inappropriately toward her. She and her complaint were taken seriously. Senior campaign staff and legal counsel spoke to both her and the offender. They determined that he had in fact engaged in inappropriate behavior. My then-campaign manager presented me with her findings. She recommended that he be fired. I asked for steps that could be taken short of termination. In the end, I decided to demote him, docking his pay; separate him from the woman; assign her to work directly for my then-deputy-campaign manager; put in place technical barriers to his emailing her; and require that he seek counseling. He would also be warned that any subsequent harassment of any kind toward anyone would result in immediate termination.

I did this because I didn’t think firing him was the best solution to the problem. He needed to be punished, change his behavior, and understand why his actions were wrong. The young woman needed to be able to thrive and feel safe. I thought both could happen without him losing his job. I believed the punishment was severe and the message to him unambiguous.

The woman lost her job instead – she was moved on – while the offender remained in his position.

I also believe in second chances. I’ve been given second chances and I have given them to others.

Like to her husband for his sexual misconduct. Probably not just second chances.

She put a ‘second chance’ for the offender – and her campaign – ahead of the victim.

I want to continue to believe in them. But sometimes they’re squandered. In this case, while there were no further complaints against him for the duration of the campaign, several years after working for me he was terminated from another job for inappropriate behavior. That reoccurrence troubles me greatly, and it alone makes clear that the lesson I hoped he had learned while working for me went unheeded.

The reoccurrence should trouble Clinton – it is a far too typical case of the offender being smacked on the hand and effectively left to reoffend.

When The New York Times reported on this incident last week, my first thought was for the young woman involved. So I reached out to her – most importantly, to see how she was doing, but also to help me reflect on my decision and its consequences. It’s never easy when something painful or personal like this surfaces, much less when it appears all over the news. I called her not knowing what I’d hear. Whatever she had to say, I wanted her to be able to say it, and say it to me.

She expressed appreciation that she worked on a campaign where she knew she could come forward without fear. She was glad that her accusations were taken seriously, that there was a clear process in place for dealing with harassment, and that it was followed. Most importantly, she told me that for the remainder of the campaign, she flourished in her new role.

This in Clinton’s words, not the victims. Clinton is trying to make excuses for not dealing with an insidious problem.

It was reassuring to hear that she felt supported back then – and that all these years later, those feelings haven’t changed. That again left me glad that my campaign had in place a comprehensive process for dealing with complaints.

It wasn’t comprehensive, it was a crappy failure.

At the time, I believed the punishment I imposed was severe and fit the offense.

A decade from now, that decision may not look as tough as it feels today. The norms around sexual harassment will likely have continued to change as swiftly and significantly in the years to come as they have over the years until now.

Sounds very confused.

Over the past year, a seismic shift has occurred in the way we approach and respond to sexual harassment, both as a society and as individuals. This shift was long overdue. It occurred thanks to women across industries who stood up and spoke out, from Hollywood to sports to farm workers – to the very woman who worked for me.

And no thanks to people like Clinton who tried to sweep it under a dirty rug, effectively allowing offenders to continue.

Clinton put her political ambitions first, and helped enable ongoing sleaze.

No woman should have to endure harassment or assault – at work, at school, or anywhere. And men are now on notice that they will truly be held accountable for their actions. Especially now, we all need to be thinking about the complexities of sexual harassment, and be willing to challenge ourselves to reassess and question our own views.

In other words, everyone’s now on their second chance, both the offenders and the decision-makers. Let’s do our best to make the most of it.

Clinton has just squanderer her ‘second chance’ to make a strong statement about the wrongs of the past, including her own. She has tried to justify what she did and didn’t do. This is more excuse than apology.

I recognize that the situation on my 2008 campaign was unusual in that a woman complained to a woman who brought the issue to a woman who was the ultimate decision maker. There was no man in the chain of command. The boss was a woman. Does a woman have a responsibility to come down even harder on the perpetrator? I don’t know. But I do believe that a woman boss has an extra responsibility to look out for the women who work for her, and to better understand how issues like these can affect them.

She failed in that responsibility badly. The problem wasn’t her failure to “to come down even harder on the perpetrator”, it was her failure to come down hard enough on him. And she is still failing with this statement to come down hard enough, she is putting more weight onto trying to save her reputation than condemning the offender and her own lack of action.

You may question why it’s taken me time to speak on this at length. The answer is simple: I’ve been grappling with this and thinking about how best to share my thoughts.

I presume she means ‘grappling’ with it since the NY Times revelation. Grappling with her PR advisers by the sound of it, trying to paper over the cracks in her reputation. Grappling with a cynical decision to make her statement under cover of Trump’s state of the nation speech.

At least she has not called the NY Times article fake news, and she has admitted she enabled a recidivist sexual harasser. Sort of.

This is a poor, excuse making, diversionary statement from Clinton. That she has belatedly admitted some things and is slightly better than Trump on this doesn’t do her much credit.

There was nothing heartfelt or spontaneous about this from Clinton, it is carefully constructed arse covering.

The BBC reports: What’s the reaction?

Not good for Mrs Clinton.

Vox, a liberal leaning media outlet, was not impressed by her latest bid to tamp down the controversy. It wrote:

“Her statement falls short as an apology, attempting to deflect attention onto others and failing to address some of the key issues in the case. Hillary Clinton is not directly responsible for Strider’s conduct during her campaign. But she is responsible for how she reacted to it – a reaction that affected a woman’s career and that may have left others vulnerable to harassment. Her statement on that reaction leaves a lot to be desired.”

Houston Chronicle opinion columnist Alyssa Rosenberg wrote:

“It’s been the longest relationship of my life as a voter, and as a writer on culture and politics. But after last week, and the revelation that she failed to take her campaign manager’s advice and fire an aide accused of sexual harassment in 2008, Hillary Clinton and I are done. And to be honest, it’s probably overdue.”

Clinton dealt with the offending poorly in 2008, and now in 2018 she has responded poorly.

She was already done, but she has just whacked another nail or two in her political coffin.

 

Previous Post
Leave a comment

8 Comments

  1. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  February 1, 2018

    Good summary PG.
    USA sure dodged a bullet in respect to this morally bereft woman.

    Reply
  2. PDB

     /  February 1, 2018

    *Defended her women-abusing husband & openly attacked his accusers in the MSM.
    *Says she didn’t know about her friend Weinstein’s behaviours even though it was common knowledge for years.
    *Protected her faith advisor over his sexual misconduct.

    Clinton gets the loudest applause from the audience for her ‘star-turn’ at the Grammys.

    Reply
  3. Gezza

     /  February 1, 2018

    She’s white trash. Just rich white trash. Like Trump.

    Reply
  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  February 1, 2018

    The harasser was given a hefty fine, a warning that he’d be sacked if he did it again and made to go to counselling. Hardly a recidivist being given the green light to go ahead-if he had, he’d have lost his job. To sack someone on someone else’s say-so without giving them the chance to change hardly seems like justice.We don’t know what form the alleged harassment took-was it of the hand on the shoulder type that seems to count as sexual harassment now or something far worse ? If it was a sexual assault, the victim should have gone to the police.

    She didn’t lose her job-and it’s most unlikely that she was demoted.She was given a new job, and I would guess that it was a better one.

    It seems that the woman is always believed, like a child who is considered to be incapable of lying.The case of the man losing his job for putting his hand on the back of a woman who was in distress should have sent out warning signals. This can only backfire on women. We are being reduced to helpless victims who think that any contact with a man must be sexual.

    Reply
  5. Kitty Catkin

     /  February 1, 2018

    The interpretation being put on the actions of Hillary Clinton seem like spite and malice-as if anything she does must have an ulterior motive. I’d say that she is more than ‘slightly better than Trump’. She doesn’t talk about grabbing men’s genitals and having sex with them in a way that is one step up from rape . She doesn’t laugh at someone calling her daughter ‘a piece of ass’. She doesn’t walk into a room full of young men getting dressed, She doesn’t say that sex with disturbed men is the best or grab men and kiss them when they obviously don’t want her to.

    It seems as if she is being blamed for her husband’s infidelity, a very sexist and old-fashioned view.

    Reply
    • David

       /  February 1, 2018

      “It seems as if she is being blamed for her husband’s infidelity, a very sexist and old-fashioned view.”

      Birds of a feather.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  February 1, 2018

        Eh ? what on earth do you mean ? I’m not blaming anyone for that, Or do you mean yourself ?

        Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s