It could be that Pelosi was trying to not anger members of her caucus. But that’s hardly a solid excuse and it certainly doesn’t leave her immune from criticism. Writing at Vox, Laura McGann said today’s bad turn on Meet the Press demonstrated that Pelosi is “that woman”—the one who enables and forgives sexual harassment from her buddies, the woman who urges the targets of harassment to calm down, deal with it privately, keep it quiet.
In fact, Pelosi’s backroom dealings with Conyers are part of what’s wrong with the current way Congress deals with sexual harassment. The old way— the way that Pelosi and others claim needs to change—is built on secrecy, deference to the power structure, and enforced anonymity. It’s the sort of shit that women in all workplaces have dealt with for years. That Conyers is being punished in this fashion suggests that far from changing the status quo, politicians, Pelosi included, are content to operate within it when dealing with the institutional sexual harassment problems they now must address. (It is notable that few, if any, Democrats have joined Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) in actually calling for Conyers to resign)