Shoulda? Sure. Woulda? Naaah. Kellyanne Conway tried to shame House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff out of his job today after Robert Mueller blew apart Schiff’s conspiracy theorizing on Russia and collusion. However, Conway should know better than most that the Era of Shame in American politics long since passed away:
Kellyanne Conway on Monday said that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff “ought to resign today” over his insistence during the Russia investigation that there was “plenty of evidence” pointing to collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.
“You have Adam Schiff, talk about an oxymoron, this man heads the Intelligence Committee in the House,” Conway said, noting that Schiff once said he “believes that the scandal is of a size and a scope probably bigger than Watergate and that there is plenty of evidence of collusion.”
“He ought to resign today,” she asserted. “He has been on every TV show 50 times a day for practically the last two years promising Americans that the president would be impeached or indicted.”
Should Schiff resign after fanning Russia-collusion hysteria for more than two years? Sure, but the shame game isn’t limited to one side of Pennsylvania Avenue. If shame meant anything in American public life any more, Donald Trump would have withdrawn from the race after the Access Hollywood tape, or resigned after acknowledging that he paid off Stormy Daniels over an affair.
But it’s not as if shame only recently departed public life. James Clapper got exposed for flat-out lying to Congress over domestic surveillance, angering senators across the aisle, and yet he kept his job as ODNI until the end of the Obama administration. He’s also been a voice hyping the Russia-collusion hysteria in the national media; does anyone think he’ll hand back the money now? What about John Brennan, whose flame-stoking on Russia-collusion was even more enthusiastic and wildly off-base? Will MSNBC fire him? Naaah.
The End of Shame goes back at least as far as Bill Clinton and his refusal to resign even after getting caught almost literally with his pants down in the Oval Office and then lying under oath about it. He eventually apologized under duress while at the same time blaming his political opponents for forcing the issue. That set up a pattern for the Clintons, whose shamelessness continued through the 2016 election and helped set up the Russia-collusion nonsense.
Conway also says Schiff should apologize. He should, but he almost certainly won’t. The way through an embarrassing scandal is to bull-charge through it without admitting any fault or offering any apologies. An apology these days is perceived as a sign of weakness rather than character and consistency. Strategic considerations take precedence over all other considerations, as Conway’s boss can attest. And the Clintons too, for that matter.