Should Kirsten Gillibrand name the senator who told her "I like my girls chubby"?

From the standpoint of pure self-interest, a thousand times yes. Are you kidding? I can wring three solid days of content from it if the mystery lech is Harry Reid or Joe Biden.

From the standpoint of Gillibrand’s self-interest, though? Hmmmm.

But there’s another reason Gillibrand shouldn’t reveal the name of the colleague who told her not to lose weight because “I like my girls chubby.” It’s a total power move. She knows who they are. They know she knows. Checkmate.

Which means somewhere on Capitol Hill, the hapless male Senator who called Gillibrand “porky” is probably cowering in his office, running that interaction in his head over and over again. “How can I spin this?” he’s thinking, “Could I make this about Michelle Obama’s fat-kids-thing? Could I say I was making a point about pork-barrel spending? Where is Olivia Pope when you need her?” Sweat is pouring off his brow, he’s wiping his forehead with his red-and-blue tie, he’s trying desperately to remember whether he pinched her arm or her butt that one time in the House gym. If Gillibrand exposes him, he’ll have a tough time winning over pretty big portion of the electorate: women (more than 50% of the U.S. population) and fat people (more than a third of all Americans.)

Suddenly, a text appears on his phone. “Hey Porker” and then, as a quick follow-up, “;)” He’s in Gillibrand’s house now.

That’s Charlotte Alter at Time, imagining Gillibrand blackmailing the mystery senator into supporting a bill to “protect contraceptive rights.” Could work, but why stop there? Why not blackmail him into supporting some especially stupid and wasteful pork projects for New York too? It’s convenient to this scenario to imagine her deploying her strategy only in service to selfless feminist or liberal causes rather than the more prosaic business that helps politicians get reelected. I strongly suspect she’s telling the truth about the “I like my girls chubby” incident; I also think government by blackmail is a bad idea, even when practiced at the expense of its more cretinous members.

Another argument from Amanda Marcotte is that it’s pointless for Gillibrand to name and shame the guy who harassed her because it’ll just devolve into a he-said-she-said thing and “people will take sides and tempers will flare” and she’ll be called a nutty slutty slut nut, etc etc etc. Show of hands: Anyone believe that? Some people will be skeptical of her story, it’s true; there are differences of opinion on every question in American political life. But Gillibrand’s extremely well positioned to have most people believe her. The sheer weight of the allegation, one U.S. senator accusing another of harassment, would suggest to fencesitters that it wasn’t made lightly. The media would be on her side too, as some of them have personal experience with this sort of thing from older male senators. And of course, partisan politics being what it is, Gillibrand would start with roughly 50 percent of the public backing her up depending upon which party the accused belongs to. Toss in the fact that voters hate Congress generally and have long memories about Bob Packwood and the “waitress sandwich” tandem of Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd and sure, Gillibrand’s claim seems entirely plausible. Why do you think news junkies took such an interest in it when the “chubby” incident was reported earlier this week?

The reason some lefties aren’t keen on her to name names, of course, is because the guy who allegedly harassed her is also allegedly one of her favorite senators, which implies that he’s a Democrat. And the very last thing Democrats need right now is a circular firing squad with two members of the party in the middle. Anyway, here are Scarborough and Brzezinski making the case that Gillibrand should, in fact, identify her harasser so that his constituents know what he’s up to and so that other women in and around the Senate don’t have to put up with the same nonsense going forward. How many aides and pages has this guy harassed while Gillibrand was keeping the “chubby” anecdote close to the vest? At the very least, if she’s resolved not to confront this person publicly, she could have had it leaked to the media to put the guy on everyone’s radar and then issued a perfunctory denial so that it couldn’t be traced back to her. Why include it in her book at all if she’s only going to cover for him by not naming him? If anything, that signals that it was really no big deal, an infraction that was annoying but not so alarming as to warrant the public’s full attention.

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