Saturday, January 30, 2016

There's a New Curmie II Winner!

There are lots of other things to write about, but I wanted to get the 2015 Curmie II winner announced while it’s at least still January. The Curmie II, you may recall, is for the stupidest utterance by a politician. The award is not for political statements per se, irrespective of how much I (or any sane person) might disagree, nor is it for outright lies, which of course there are plenty of in the political arena. No, the Curmie II is for “statements so absurd on their face that we wonder how the speaker is capable of dressing himself, let alone holding public office.” Unlike the original Curmie, I pick this one myself rather than having readers vote.

The first winner, and still all-time champion because his line requires literally no context, was Congressman Mike Rogers, for his immortal words, “You can’t have your privacy violated if you don't know your privacy is violated.” Last year’s recipient was former President George W. Bush, who somehow managed to keep a straight face while claiming that “I think you have to earn your way into politics. I don’t think that anything is ever given to you.” Context is required for this one: the statement is not completely ridiculous on its face—naïve, perhaps, but not face-meltingly stupid—but coming from someone with considerable inherited wealth, the son of a President and grandson of a Senator, this is a truly a legitimately award-winning display of obliviousness.

This year, amid all the pre-election bluster and preening, there were a number of worthy contenders, but the selection finally boiled down to two candidates: Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Hillary Clinton. Both finalists have strong cases. DWS staked her claim with the thoroughly bogus Democratic Presidential debate schedule—a mere six debates (there were 25 the last time there wasn’t an incumbent), scheduled at ridiculous times (the Saturday before Christmas, MLK weekend, etc.), with penalties exacted for any candidate who appeared at an unsanctioned debate and indeed for any media outlet who covered such a debate. (Why major media outlets didn’t tell her to perform an exercise best suited to particularly limber hermaphrodites is certainly evidence of their duplicity, cowardice, and/or general incompetence.)

But she’s not our award winner for two reasons. First, whereas Curmie has it in his head that DWS was proclaiming one of the virtues of such a schedule to have been maximizing viewership, he can’t find a link to her saying that prior to this month, after the December 31 cut-off date. Secondly, it’s impossible to believe that Wasserman Schultz actually thinks her transparent stacking of the deck for the Clinton candidacy was really an exercise in increasing voter engagement. (Even PolitiFact didn’t buy that bullshit.) No, she was simply lying, and that doesn’t get you a Curmie II. Clearly, DWS doesn’t think the Democratic Party should be a democratic party.

The runner-up congratulates the Curmie II winner.
That leaves our winner of the 3rd Annual Curmie II Award as Hillary Clinton, for her outrageous tweet on November 22, “Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported.” As with ex-President Bush’s award-winner last year, this one requires context. Just as GWB’s remarks might sound reasonable coming from someone other than a privileged son of a privileged son, so might HRC’s make at least some sense had they been written by someone other than the principal defender of a serial sexual abuser who happens to be her husband.

Curmie thinks back a couple of decades to when he was trained in rape crisis intervention. One of the cardinal tenets of that process was that anyone claiming to be a victim of sexual assault should be treated as if she (usually “she,” sometimes “he”) was believed. There was a sort of implicit blind faith that all such accusations are legitimate. They aren’t, of course, but they are more often than not, and as long as due process is upheld for the alleged assailant, it’s reasonable to proceed by believing the victim until and unless there’s reason to doubt her story.

Curmie has dealt with (meaning providing advice or support, not actually adjudicating) three date rape cases over the years; in two of them her knew both the accuser and the accused. In two of the three cases, Curmie would say the chances that an assault took place fulfill “preponderance of the evidence” standards but still fall short of “beyond reasonable doubt.” This, of course, complicates matters considerably, as we run considerable risk of real victims feeling unsupported on the one hand, and of innocent people being irrevocably stigmatized on the other.

It’s a vexed question, then, one not entirely suitable for condensing to 140-character proclamations. Still, Twitter is part of the world we live in, so over-simplifications are understandable and even reasonable if contextualized. But to have that statement come from Hillary Clinton, whom Juanita Broaddrick says “tried to silence [her],” who declared the allegations surrounding the Monica Lewinsky affair to be a “vast right-wing conspiracy” (except for the whole, you know, being completely true part), who presumably was consulted before hubby paid out close to a million bucks in an out of court settlement with Paula Jones. And we mustn’t forget Kathleen Willey, who alleges she was fondled against her will in the White House per se.

Indeed, if we count “consensual” sexual activity that—according to feminist theory—wasn’t really consensual at all because of a power dynamic, then we’re looking at an 8-time abuser (or should that number be 14? Or more?), and Hillary has played dutiful little wifey through it all, striking out at anyone with the temerity to accuse her randy spouse of the slightest impropriety, and de facto adopting a “boys will be boys” attitude through it all.

Until she thought she could score some political points by being a “feminist.” Or perhaps she actually is blinded to Bill’s comprehensive lasciviousness. Is she hypocritical or stupid? Either way, for Hillary Clinton of all people to claim that all victims should be believed… that’s Curmie II material.

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