« The Weeds

The Great Awokening comes to Congress

2017-12-15

Matt, Dara, and Tara Golshan talk about how Congress does and doesn’t handle sexual harassment allegations.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I once saw study indicating that giving people a placebo has modest health benefits, even if you tell them ass a placebo. Yes, I have also seen that it is very clear as heavy right I have you weeds and I welcome the weeds. I'm Darwin, I'm here not Ecclesiastes, end congressional reporter vocs dot com targets on who knows more after having been on the hill reporting for a year about the culture and content, there than either of us, which is great because too we're going to be discussing congresses, harassment problem really congresses, ethics problem generally it. You might think that Congress is dodged because Roy more, who was almost certainly going to be under pressure to be investigated by the ethics committee. If he got elected for having allowed
the least sexually assaulted, a fourteen year old girl back in the seventies and also dated several other teenagers. I was not did on Tuesday night. I in a stunning lost to Democrat Doug Jones, however if anyone on the hill thinks that they are taking a breather and that they have dodged. What was good, be very embarrassing episode, they probably shouldn't be too relaxed. Are we in DC and now a lot of people who are familiar with political social media are hearing rumours that a lot of publications around here have many reporter is trying to dig up and put together big pieces on sexual harassment and assault on the hill. You know the number we ve seen numbers thrown around that the Washington he's going to be running an article that names thirty to forty members of Congress near who have had some sort of misconduct alleged against them, so it looks like a big reckoning could be coming and We wanted to talk about what that would look like systematic because so far, when you have one case, one person
Greece being named at a time. It's much easier to pray, individuals to resign, but if a big thirty to forty person allegation and you're going to see a much bigger push to resort. The system, so what does that system actually look like and Tarah? I was just expressing deep confused. before her restarted taping. That's because I have only recently realise that there are four different entities to which someone could report sexual harassment by a member of Congress, and I was hoping you can kind of workers through like what is the current accountability system. So We can understand, maybe why it might not work as well as it should it is not unusual to be confused by heavy ethics process in Congress. It's a really hope, convoluted system and even the people who work in hell and around the capital are confused Hata and address issues when they come up. So right now there are four separate entities: there's the: U S, Congress Office of compliance, which was
Establishing ninety ninety five: through the convention, credibility act in that kind of covers lobby there is an staff and any Capitol Hill employees through the Eu Sea laws, and so anyone can go and Lodge comply In the end they can through a mediation process, they can go through counselling, matter. It's like a sort of, like I'm HR Congress exactly because each each individual office is kind of like its own company. People like to say that so hand, have their own hr office, but they often don't have their own hr office. So this is kind of dislike like overarching office and that one's notably in stated, when Bob Packwood Senator for were again resigned because of sexual assault, allegations against him that were ultimately found credible in the ethics committee. So I go there:
next, which is the House and Senate both have their individual ethics committees, which are by part committees with tourism and lawmakers said on them and then- and it's a little bit harder to get an allegation to an ethics committee, cause it it often has to come from, allow make her or it has to be referred to by our fourth entity here, which is the office of congressional ethics which anyone can report to, and then it decides whether or not to refer them to the ethics committees and those and those ethics entities serve historically mainly focus on financial issue sway. Yet they were largely established to address issues of fraud and crime. shit and embezzlement and, and there for being really good at addressing those issues and they kind of address everything else as it comes so few asks
there is now well. Are they equipped to address sexual assault? Allegations are so well. We ve done it in the past, but it's a just its culture of we have to take everything as it covers, but it's not it's not that what the institution was originally there for so just make sure I have this correct after pack woods nation and nineteen? Ninety five Congress said, while the ethics Committee has successfully compelled resignation, let's create this other office that doesn't have a direct relationship with the Ethics Committee after pack, words resignation. There was like a big feeling that there was not enough to address. Actual assault allegations on the hill. So they passed. The congressional occur ability act which basically offered protections first staffers too
complainants to evaluate a man like create any kind of pipeline to any in any like body that would have power over the member who is accused. I I I I completely certain on this, but I I think you can they go into mediation and and met with members right- than nice, Loki less embarrassing for everyone involved and here I mean there's not a lot of as learned recently, there's not a lot of transparency and in view of this, and I think Congress Congress. People are starting to be more vocal about having to create more policies around around these issues. So, let's go through some of the cases that we ve had.
Recently weighed, and so one thing we ve had is the descended Ethics Committee has been invoked in a hypothetical sense right. There was talk of worry, more being forwarded there, but him when the election. There was talk when allegations about our Frank in originally came up was. He was going to be referred to the Senate Ethics Committee, but then women in that send a democratic caucus, sort of shoved them out the door before that could ever happen, though it we should note that he has not yet set a date. Resignation well, but one one different seriously, both frank and in more they were not accused of harassing congressional stand, where'd you mean, there's it there's a difference between a generic address, a generic but a a political complaint right, like L, Frank and seems like a bad man who has done bad things and a human resources complaint, which is like staff members.
Being mistreated right and you would I mean you in one any organization should have some kind of human resources system. You know some way of dealing with staffers concerns about. The organisation is one, but then you also always have the idea that there could be particularly in politics right. I mean it's a there's like a holistic judgment like should this guy be United States Senator and it is, I mean it's nowhere that the stuff Reagan was alleged to have done sort of involved random third parties, but but that's at least one reason that you might want to have several kinds of institutions, whereas we ve had a number of of allegations against house members that involve their actual staff I mean I think that that there is a kind of when tar, the inner, when you say that the people you ve taught you on the hill are worried that the ethics Committee is not equipped. I think that this is death. Part of that conversation is where they normally drawing the line, but you know
It's not exactly as if the ethics Committee has been super great on handling human resources, style complaints, either right, Lake Blake, Fair and hold of Texas. Finally, is the arrows announced this week that was not running for reelection due to allegations of sexual misconduct that it mostly already come out that the ethics Committee had lake. had some kind of investigation into and had decided that you know they weren't. Pursuing. So it's not entirely clear to me that the line here it in practice This is the line between what they're doing on the clock is members of Congress and what they're doing in their personal lives. Where hope what happened with latvia- and you will get through that, he it had there are allegations a while ago, and then he had this massive settlement that came out and and and there was there were news reports recently unveiling that our surfacing that there is a despicable
and there have been more allegations instances where it so this is a case where a complaint had been brought against him. There was a financial settlement and then it was cut out. So we and that's also the giant Conyers case White had that sort of structure waited complain was filed and what sort of hushed up? or resolved monetarily, but not brought forward to the public to be addressed in a political context, because that's just one of the distinctions here right is like Do you want a system that provides financial redress to victims, or do you want a system that provides political accountability for perpetrators? I think that the question of confidentiality, cuts in somewhat opposite directions. For for those kinds of things were enemies.
The same woman, individual victim who feels at her career, has been heard, or you know, You want to file a complaint. You wanna get you wanna get some some money. Being able to do it. Confidentially is probably advantageous to you in that case, but politically, like secret settlements. The amend doesn't accomplish anything yeah, I mean, I think that we have seen a real shift. This is one of the things that failure to become clearer with time about in the current kind of recent intolerance of open secret secrets and sexual misconduct right leg up until recently, sexually harassing Can someone was seen as a discreet harm against that person? So you know if financial restitution was the best way to kind of fixed that harm you did. That now that so many of the cases that have come out both in politics and outside of politics have been cases of patterns right where perpetrator,
is harassing multiple people in very similar ways. I think there's been a kind of public awareness that just addressing Iep a particular victim, especially if you're doing it too, you know, protects the in such a way that both the perpetrator and the victim are unnamed is leaving that future victims volney well because they don't know anything about this being a behaviour that someone's engaged in the past so that kind of brings at a little closer to the Classic Ethics Committee framework yeah, you're investigating a specific thing that has happened in the past, but your investigating it because it says something about the character of this person who has been elected to represent you. We should. We should take a break here, but then come back to this. it's the holiday season, which is great it's a very happy time year, but is also a time a year that gets really hectic against really busy you're trying to wrap your work up. While also take your time off you gotta shop for presents you gotta get in touch with people. You gotta ten holiday parties withstand start com.
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gotta stamps that calm click on the wheel, microphone at the top. The homepage and I've been weeds that stamps that harm enter weeds. So far it seems in oh, you are actually the one who's talking to who's been talking to people on the hill, about this kind of both in NATO. On the record and as the Congress Back Channel gas, happens, and what are the senses you get of the real issues that people see with the current structure and does anyone for that there is any hope of making it better, or do they just kind of feel that this is not something that bear as Congress equipped to handle. I think there I mean there's definitely conversations and there is legislation out there. It now for ways to make this whole process more, transparent and- and I think I think there are, there is There is an impetus right now to address this
and may even saw that when both the houses mandated sexual harassment training, for all staff and lawmakers there was a fund had been learned about that- was that they didn't actually mandate and have to come from a specific place, so a kind of come from from anywhere, really they just have to their staff has to go through sexual harassment training, but they don't. You dont, specify where it has to come from. And his voice, saying I mean the evidence on sexual harassment. Training is really bad. right. I mean this is this: is a sort of classic public policy thing where court rulings in the past had indicated that a company could sort of immunize itself from corporate level for sponsor billowy financial responsibility for harassment claims if they could say they had like taken people through sexual harassment, training, so a whole industry of sexual harassment
Meaning so I grew up for like legal protection purposes, but because it doesn't need to succeed in preventing your managers from harassing people in order to be financially beneficial to the company to provide the training. The like efficacy of the training programmes is really really low, and then it looks like one when Congress it took a move in this direction instead of being like this doesn't have a great track record corporate. How can we make it like better and more rigorous? It was like the opposite trade. It like as hand way. is possibly I mean. I highlight the moral of the story here is that the problem isn't that people are engaging in behaviour that they don't know whether or not its Erasmus? If that were the case, sexual her, meant training would lead them to know where the lines are and be solicitous that they dont step over them. What you have a situation where people no, that things are wrong and assume that they are powerful enough to get away with them, which I didn't training that identifies what sexual harassment looks like doesn't necessarily help with that
right, I M not saying sexual harassment training as in I'll, be I'm just saying that I mean it no better than we have ignored the bad. It's the only thing- They ve done like the one thing that we know definitely doesn't. Work is probably illustrative in itself right, but There have been a lot of questions raised especially around. I think it was their race, because of Roy more about whether or not the Senate Canada is equipped, or even in the position, to kind of address these kinds of, allegations for people who have not having arrived at the Senate yet or allegations that predate there, shit in or yet predict. time in the Senate and and there is a kind of this- is a political conversation that we're having right now, but it also constitutional question of of what jurisdiction do. Eu committees have and there was something is really interesting. Amicable conversations and with people move from
I ve been in the Senate absorb observed how these, instead, his work was the Senate isn't necessarily. A very reactive body, and its now being kind of tasked with these political quest, where the jurisdiction of these committees are vague and for example, in the ethics committee. The constitution gives it the power to address these questions. If there's disorderly behaviour, if it reflects upon the Senate and breaks rules of brake and regulations, as the Senate Code of Conduct how you want to set that power establishes a lot of new precedents, and there maybe they're, going to have to be lines drawn. I think once they decide how are they wanna go, I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume that the Senate Code of conduct doesn't have like a bullet point that says. Don't group
he ate hum. I think it's Sunday about, like appropriate behaviour or behaviour becoming of everybody I dont, let me show you know the big I haven't memorized Veronica: how do I know, I'm sorry, baby does seem like a serious, austrian waiting, you would say you would look at door more situation weighed, and one thing you would say about it is like is not a coincidence that he lost the elect ride like this was obviously was a major issue in the campaign and had he won the election. Despite a like full airing of this in the electoral campaign, for the Senate to turn around and say, but you know what we think: voters in Alabama that kind of ninety like they really made a bad cop, but this one we can get rid of him, would see him. I mean there's like an obvious problem with that, then layered into it. There's a non problematic element, which is that Alabama has a republican governor.
had more wine and then had he been somehow kicked out through an ethics process. He would have been replaced by another republic probably another republican who republican leaders were happier then why more independently? So maybe we'll be fine, but you gotta have a kind of explicitly pushing that for a bed in a rack. At one point: the errors, all but saying this is not going to be a problem because will fix your Roy more issue, just vote vote for the Republican and will make sure it's a Republican who is anti poverty, but you could imagine a situation in which, there is a move to unseat a senator with an opposite party governor. even though the senator won an election in which his opponents like air, these scandal charges against him right, I mean it It is a really really dicey terrain. You know
like it's easy to look at a particular case were like the person is egregious and the partisan stakes are now existent and be like. Ok, I want to see some housecleaning here but, like I mean there's the voters pick the senators. If the Senate picked the senators that would like not be a representative democracy at all right. That's that's like how the Chinese it works, and I dont I mean you don't want to say, like when exaggerate the slippery slope involved, but you see, why would give people pause? And I think that this also intersects, with a dynamic that we have seen over the last couple of months as public fears who have already had allegations of sexual misconduct against them, like Woody Allen, don't appear to be coming up. It's the same reckoning that people whose misconduct has been exposed recently have right that there's there is an assumption that kind of baked into the cake, even though its pretty obvious,
that norms against this are shifting very rapidly, so that has no all sorts of consequences. When you're talking about a case in which literally bull would have known about this or could have known about this when say the last time, Blake Ferret got re elected and twenty sixteen people already, you know new something that they could have known, something about the allegations against him, even if they didn't know all the details of the settlement. So there is a question that, both the political and moral one about. You know firstly, the Senate has decided that the peoples will is not. hardly under an undeniable that they can They can draw a line saying this reflects poorly on the body. This reflects purely on the United States and its really a question of what are. These behaviors that they consider morally beyond the pale like corruption, does appear to be something we're, even if people vote for somebody over and over again, the Senate does appear to see it as a problem. They have kicked of inner. They kicked a bunch of people out during the regions
action for being in our own reconstruct confederates. So it's a. I think that, It's one of those where the set it already has decided that it's a balancing test and the question is just where it gets balanced right. And I think there are also wearing the political factor right now, I think we saw with the Frank in case of they just they called for his rex asian before an investigation because began so We are indeed going to get these. Hence in dozens of of new allegations, I think there is a growing call of of Adieu, fair into process, Amy's Ethics Committee, so it I mean it's a reckoning that is coming and how they're going to do with it is has to be addressed because, eventually. Some of these people are going to have to be investigated, probably fur allegations that do predate there for type in the Senate. Chicken other break here, I'm consider somewhat
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right, I mean you can say no. This didn't happen right and part of the essence of the Bob Packwood case that made it a sort of canonical ethics Committee precedent, but that I think, is actually a little bit idiosyncratic and why doesn't work? Is that Packwood heavily disputed the factual charge? he didn't indicate that what he was alleged to have done wasn't bad? He said that it had happened, but then the committee invest, Asian was able to produce pretty persuasive evidence that actually had happened. Diary Ray the form of a of a diary, and my knowledge of sexual harassment is not perfect, but I feel it pretty rare believe we are to get a case where the perpetrator is like. If it true that I had done that. That would be really terrible, but I
Agriculture deny that I did that and then conclusive evidence emerges. That was, I guess you really did do he will be much more often get is some of where it looked like the Frank in situation was headed. where he was saying that, like me, maybe something similar to of those incidents had happened, but not all did that some of the characterisation of them warrant true and then from his defeat you're saying that, like some of this, after these alleged to have done while not like great, is just not that agree jests and that's where different right to say, ok, we're gonna get to a murky situation with a question isn't like. Can we over a secret diary, but the question is: can,
ascertain exactly what happened in a room that only two people were in and can we make a judgement about like what level of agreed justness are we going after and the ethics Committee I mean, it's, not it's! It's like a giant police organization. You know, hard to know with a lot of these claims like? How would you ever prove that its true? If that, if the member wants to resist political pressure, wait, I mean and say like no, but that didn't happen. I didn't do that like what are you? What are you gonna do? Yeah? I mean I've been thinking about this because it's not like nobody expects the United States Congress to be doing some full of bringing facts to light, like that's kind of the purpose of trusting the Congress with oversight of the federal government right that, like they're supposed to be keeping the executive branch accountable for what effect
they doing. That said, I am by no means the first person to note that the extent to which Congress takes that oversight as lake keeping tabs on the working of the federal government is not a supersede the strongest and right now that leg Oversight as a kind of committee thing has become opportunities to question. You know high profile people about whatever, under the sign that, in the kind of investigations like the Benghazi investigation have been kind of opportunities to take high profile things and embarrassed the current administration, when the other parties in power, where I'm sure, see something similar. If Democrats managed hurt, you take either chamber in twenty eighteen against the Trump administration, but if these are muscles, that Congress is not usually exercising if they're, not really in the business on a day to day basis, a figuring out. What is the truth in this case it seems extremely difficult
to then turn those depleted skills on themselves. Yeah, we end as Matt SAD, I mean there are there. In these cases, there being ass to how to find the truth, something that has just extraordinarily great yeah, I mean to see the how issues of boys against Reuben kill em. I actually have no idea how to say his last name: Democratic House, member from Nevada and Nancy Policy has been saying he should resign he's been fighting and the most recent story, I read it was and Nevada Independent story, about a lobbyist, who said that he had been harassing her when he was in the state legislature and the charges were quite serious, but also as a as a reader eat like it would have been. Much more conclusive
She had been willing to go on the record and like name herself and come forward, because had that been the case, she could have handed over text messages that she said she saw and that would have constituted like really. Solid forensic evidence, but she didn't want to do that, and I think I feeling she had pretty good right, since for not wanting to do that. Like I'm not saying this woman is alive I completely understand why a professional, Yes, in the Nevada state legislature doesn't want to come on the record with Salt allegations against a prominent politician there, but it creates a tough sitting. you were, I can say, as a human being that, like I think these allegations against him are probably true, but then there is a legal standard right I mean if you ve ever been on a jury or something you know they ve. They impress upon you that you're not supposed to sit there, listen to what people have to say and then just can. I take your best guess.
And the politics of it is like it's a it's. It's a weird middle ground. Now as a voter. Obviously you don't need to hold people to any kind of like prove beyond reasonable doubt standard, but to talk about kicking a duly elected member of Congress out of office and an ethics process is Eames like you do want. pretty high evidentiary bar, and I really see why what Nancy Pussy ones is for him to just stepped down voluntarily, because that that obviously fixes the problem. But when people really want to fight, it's like it's on obvious, What you're gonna do what you're gonna do, because it's it's I'm really in victims. Interests to come forward like in the clearest possible way. Yeah. I fur listeners I have just taken off my cardigan cause, I'm beginning to get angry about things. The thing is the coup in men maintains as do really a lot of people are against him allegations of come out recently that most of what he's alleged
doing happened, but it was in the context of a consensual relationship and that's like that, appears to now be there. go to your Ryan list. The new Yorker, who was summarily fired earlier this week, made a similar defence that late whenever he was accused of it up Essentially, it appears to kind of Bee Bee go to among them this way, even if it seems to be happening at this time as their peak. There is kind of something of a backup ash, envy chattering classes assessment of what's going on culture. that, like maybe there's a spectrum of behaviour, maybe we shouldn't be punishing people for one thing as bad as we published it punish other people, fur like groping and this is a familiar paradigm. It's what we lived with until three months ago, right that varies consensual sexual behaviour, that's totally ok and then nonconventional behaviour and light. As long as what happen She was something you consented to like that's totally kosher, and if that there's a big
problem and a concern where someone will take consecutive, consensual sexual behaviour and try to hide did against someone later as non consensual. That, like this, is a real. The concern that we need to be designing processes to prevent and why due process is so important. All of that I am not denying that any of that is true. What I think needs to be said. Is that the reason that we are having this conversation is because an a massive New York Times story came out about decades of misconduct by Harvey Winston that didn't. centre on him doing things to women that they say no to bite on. I'm using his power and his influence to cope, First, women into situations where they felt they could not say no, and that's when we're talking about de misconduct of powerful men, that's credibly, important consideration, especially in Congress when there, very small world, and there really are feel fears of retaliation that the
the idea that were somehow snapping back to this world, in which, if you say, it was consensual. That means you didn't do anything wrong because you there's no world in which someone would have consented without really wanting to that. There is no way you can Miss use your power by getting some one into a position where they feel they have to consent, and that there is, you know a big concern that people are going to manipulate someone after sexual contact with them to make them look bad. I I stand that these concerns are real. But I also think that we're losing the bigger picture, which is not really about consent. It's about power in its misuse. I second to that. But, like I do kind of want you to talk, I mean I, I only know about the kind of concerns about retaliation from reading your stuff, so I was hoping you tend to get give us a flavour of lake. Why does it feel late for young women, in particular on the hill Lake feeling that they have to negotiate? All of this, I think.
that the lack of transparency or the lack of clarity or what structures are in place for them to report. To come forward and that this structure the hell is very much so I mean I've said after this before and they come is a breeding ground for this kind of behaviour because you have extreme, Small offices there's no immediate oversight. Theirs of very strong power, dynamic at play here. Nobody knows everyone can hear. What's gonna happen every other office. There's a lot of mobile We are not mobility, there's a lot of moving around of job, so if Thing happens in your office and you make no about it and then you get shut down and we want to leave because You feel unsafe. Well, your boss, the president put you in that uncomfortable position. Has the power to go tell other acts does not to hurry, so I mean there's a a lot of conditions at playing
that makes it a very unsafe environment that makes fear of, palliation really fairer for these victims, and I think that is why they have been silent. for so long, and I think I think important context for people listening also is that behaviour on the part of Senators and members of Congress toward their staff that fits under a much broader sort of horizon of abusive and is really really comment. and everybody knows that you know that Members are like crazy screamers, you know and force people to you know break them down into tears, or things like that and it's the kind of work plays in which you are really you're. There are members of Congress, and then they have staff and the staff is like just
here to support them and if what they want you to do is answer constituents male like that's what you do and if, but wants you to do is go get your dry cleaning, that's what they do and if what they want you to do is get yelled at for half an hour battling. That's not really your fault, like that's what you do like you, just your there to support that, and that is a situation that puts people at incredible levels of risk for different kinds of exploitation. There's not a like objective sin of the office other than just do what the member wants right and Ryan like nobody elects. Nobody decides to vote for somebody, because there are good manager of people way Where are you mean exactly there? Not you, you know you don't get promoted to be a committee chairmen because you were considered have like an aptitude for middle management, its request of seniority and ideology, and, and everything else like that. So
and I think you see a lot of these cases- I mean, I think, a lot of different sort of harasser driven out it, both on and off Congress, turn out to have had sort of general. Mutations is being assholes in some ways Wanda protecting them will be like well he's a jerk to everybody. Am I often think that's a concept that, every thought, but it certainly common in in Congress right. It's just like it's, not it's a curse sure of not treating the people who work there very well, is sort of in depth. And the way you you get ahead, is by putting up with it when there are definitely you know. This also comes up out and other weird ways like when John Conyers was in there are allegations that he'd like been naked, are mostly make it in front of staff. Some of his former staffer, like He changes closing the office all the time because they he spends most of his time. There are, like most of us, have seen him shortlist at some point, which is dead
Lee Weird, to say about your boss, but is- totally normal in this bizarre congressional space, where Lake Congress members sleep, in their offices is somehow ok, I guess this is time for the matter to be, should pay them more they don't have to sleep in their offices. yet I mean I think it is a lot of members of Congress sleep in their offices because its expensive to have two houses in life, and I mean a lot of members of congress- are rich, which good for them, but I think, there's a big set of problems around Congress being all full of millionaires and then there's like another set of problems around members of Congress sleeping in the office. I dont think- so. This come up recently observed held chatter in the harassment context, which I dont think that credible I've, been, I dont think men are like harassing their subordinates, because they're sleeping in the eye
but just like separately. It is odd to me I feel like they should build. Some congressional housing has and also now I people harass, there's subordinates as woman. If my boss were an older man who, like had caught in the room where I worked with next to the room where I worked like, I would feel that lines were being blurred honorary a basis that, in a way that would make it harder to figure out what was just like member going about his business and the member being sexually suggestive Burma. Ok, I owed to go. Take a final break, and then I think we should talk about. But but there was saying before the sort of all encompassing question of like power. this holiday season. Do you get a gift for yourself from one of our very smart sponsors, the economist magazine? They are. They know that that I value their insides and they are offering weeds fans a free copy of the mag. So it's really what why can you get for yourself? That's better than something? That's for sure
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w tat economists, dot, com, slash, weeds or, you know, just be lazy, use the Google search for economist weeds either way you get to the web page. You can simply of recovery they think you're gonna love it. I think you have to think you're gonna subscribe, so check him out. The economist outcome, slash weeds. One thing is: it seems to me that we see in some Storage or in Congress, and some other more broadly, is a real reluctance on the part of. sort of more small, see conservative minded people more older people, more male people, but but whatever it is, to want to draw like big safety zone lines, it seems We in lots of areas of life, we just say like you're, not supposed to drive a car after you, ve been drinking and like it's true like most of it,
I am most people who get behind the wheel and they ve had some drinks. They will probably pie. the car home without killing any body. I've been in such vehicles, myself and in its been fine, but it's on safe its it as an unsafe form of behaviour, and we prohibit it legally up you have with these things is like there's no rule against members of Congress having affairs with lobbyists or state legislators having affairs would lobbyists, even though this is obviously inherently problematic aspect to that right in this It is exactly what what what you were saying with them web currents case where it's like. how consensual. How meaningful is it to say that something as consensual or to some degree consensual, when also this other persons job
it is like literally till I get, you devote certain ways on bills and you have that kind of power, either actually I mean there is a story about the Arizona state legislature that came out this week, where an unnamed former lobbyist literally said that when she was having dinner with a member of the legislature and like asking ok, sorry, you gonna, yes on our biller, not the legislator. Basically, all said only a few you know like have some sort have sex with me and then, when she refused, he voted. He was like one of the deciding vote against the bill, and blue hurt yes from the floor like that, is a deeply weird situation, way inadequacy I haven't Muslim like that. Just like how much do you want to hang the wrong in this of that misconduct on exactly how explicit the guy was in his statements right if it seems to me that that sort of not really the issue there right
that is like well was he'd like coyly suggestive, you know cause he use like. I love the sopranos, and you know that, like one when deal and experienced organised crime is that people are very careful to make sure that the literal text of what they said it was read out in a court of law leaves them room for exam. Racial Billig, actual adult human beings are capable of communicating one another with not only words. But Body language tone of voice to bring across what they are trying to say and to, par sit in that kind of way. It is these in the reason why is inappropriate fur- members of the legislature and lobbyists to being aging in like swaps of sexual favours for legislation that
think hinges all that much on the particulars of any given case yeah. I mean, I think, that the other allegation against representative Cuban is that new, that I think an intern on one of his campaign so late. There are definitely different power dynamics and when you're talking about a lobbyist use, not somebody Ino up who you are literally paying or who is literally working for you and in it but in both cases you know less leaders have a lot of power. power is not just expressed in votes its expressed in the kind of gossip channels that tar was talking about where you can tell your he's not to hire someone there's a lot of formal and informal power there and the kinds of people who will run for office are the kinds of people who are drawn to that power in, I think, a lot of people who alone it will come to DC because they want to be like the West wing. Alot of people come to DC because they want it to be. Like you know, scandal or tells of hearts or some other explicit power play. The house
in style, people are going to relish the opportunity to in a make someone do what you want them to do without telling them- and I, like I dont know other than just saying all politicians are sociopath, which is not something. I don't believe that I am not sure that I do affirmatively believe it that other than that I dont. How do you fix that kind of late weird power dynamic. I dont know I do I don't know how close I mean. I I think from conversation that people who study sexual harassment and workplace harassment and I mean, I think there are ways to kind of implement structure is to make it easier for people to come forward. even like, even if there are more avenue, four anonymous report aims that there can be patterns. It develop theory. Now simple Jackie, spear or opposition How Fournier and the house has
the station and the meat you bill, which would extend employ projections to interns and pages. It would it would require a disclosure if there's a settlement that is made from office. It would require an anonymous climate survey. So I mean they're these kinds of things that could make the environment for a little? more open for victims to feel comfortable to come word, but at the end of the day we need this. Is this? Is the structure of these offices and let them the people at play it it's just a very close knit community, a very powerful people at very low level employ, and it's not just even patriarchy thing, relic. Marcy captor, whose representative from Ohio was talking earlier this week about how people busily invited it invited misconduct on them by like showing a lot of cleavage which, if you ve ever been on the hill, it is the most conservatively dress place in America, possibly including
on Sundays, like I dont know where she was seeing this Cleveland our allowed to show our shoulders in this vicious circle there's lobby, fellow heavier than from a giant, maybe that such is latin like verify, that is in general. Is it your experience that even women who are members of Congress or to tend to like protect their colleagues against under any kind of I don't have enough for, inter to comment on that I mean, I think I think these people all work together, every day. They know each other very well and and they are inclined to support each other, and I think that is. That is something we even saw. What the Frank in case, which I wrote, a piece on come into being on the on the Senate floor, watching his resignation, speech and and reaction afterwards was there was a line of democratic senators, some of which had Savage actually had called for him to resign the day before and had made a big country nickel saint me out of it, which were like up and giving mahogany was the Sykes handshake and Pat on the
in this feeling of you did the right thing and like good job buddy and near it took on team and everybody was theirs definite the escalation of oats. It's hard to build. You ve when someone that is your colleague Is this kind of thing? One of them was serene the things I ever saw was that the TED Stephenses good bye in Congress, at which I mean it, wasn't sexual harassment bank. This guy was she was a terrible senator for cyclists, nobody. I wasn't nobody liked him, obviously life. If I liked him, but he wasn't like any ideological groups, favorite guy, he was a crook, which is why he ended up losing his election, but here Sabena senator for a long time, and everybody like Democrats to Republican and one guy like really sad when he laughed at Wrangling just remind me of that it was like was I mean it was. It was very surreal, watch it was. It all felt.
a lot more political and partisan man. The calls for his resignation had the day before those are all these are all factors. that play I mean they are. They are a wired to be on this team and to win together and to have each other's backs against tax and they have a lot of power to protect themselves. He I think it's easy to forget in the kind of an old fill a bus, you're Mitch, Mcconnell era that even now there is still a lot of fellow feeling among members of the United States Senate across parties, and you see that, in the kind of you know, dealing responses to members who, after sign. You see it a little bit in the willingness of existing Senate Republicans to lake. Throw Roy more out with the trash, because they care a little bit about their their fellow senators and the institution and its unity It's definitely not what it used to be, but there's still
is a lot of sense that they are protecting a very important institution and that not always a great thing. I mean for one thing: that is what leads so many of them like voice these processes. in about not being included about in o fur for things that aren't necessarily legitimate process concerns because they haven't overinflated sense of their importance and of the importance of Lake Senate procedure? They, I think it also in the same way that you know any group that feels under attack by the outside. he's going to defend its own members. It's probably a spot. That say, the house, representatives which doesn't have that kind of sense of commonality among all in a four hundred and thirty five members doesn't appear to have. So I wonder if we are going to see kind of differential outcome here yeah, I think I mean it
the house is, is definitely a more reactive body and it it. We have seen their quicker to say goodbye, I also think that you see not just on the hill, but in the more broader cultural space that in what If I guess decided to call Post Harvey Wine Steen Hashtag, to air. I personally, like the greater opening the great how can you know, but I actually I that's a good turn of phrase, because I think it emphasizes the extent to which there are two different things happening in parallel: one is a kind of a hunt for people like Harvey Weinstein's, who, I think you would say, are multiple standard deviations worth of outlier misconduct and is to assent, we say that there is a problem one of them
silence, saying of the victims of the most agreed just forms of misconduct, and that we need some information to come to light. It is very conducive to big time investigative journalism, projects that kind of thing A second thing that is also happening is more like a great awakening, to say that no, the typical experience needs to shift right that, like the kinds of workplace experiences that most women have with some one or other or multiple people over the course of their careers, is not correct and there needs to be large scale like adjustment of how things work, not because we're see. We're not gonna. Have twenty five million different newspaper articles
about like this one. I did this. You know like that that doesn't make sense swayed where we can have is different standards of behaviour. I think that this is kind of lapse of the open secret right, so many of these cases that have come out there is better, a group of people saying I am glad this is finally public. It's not like did not already know and that sea is its impressive to me that that equilibrium lasted for so long right that, like it's, been clear to everyone a sort of certain kinds of behaviour are inappropriate and yet there have been large numbers of people in degree of power, even not lake, massive artistic genius- oh, we need to let them do whatever they want, but just a little bit of power to say well V, import that they have outweighs the extent to which whatever they did was wrong, even though we know it was wrong and that that distance, the willingness to tolerate that seems to be collapsing, and I'm really hoping that that's the durable changed the comes out of this.
people if they become aware that someone in power has done something wrong. Don't than do the calculus like well, how? Much? I value them that kind of thing there. It oh willing to say publicly that it's wrong, but it's gonna be a big problem for Washington, because Washington loves open secrets, Washington, people here tend to love, knowing something that other people dont know that isn't publicly known yet so much journalist energy goes to being the first person to break a story. That's going to become public anyway and its unfortunate because, as I said on this punk has two weeks ago. I think that a lot of instead Since you are going to need to take the lead in a cultural shift by actually demonstrated that they believe in their values, but I'm not sure that character, illogically. The kind of peace when those institutions are going to be interest, it in broadcast. Everything they know rather than using it to. You now show that a cocktail party that their more and in the loop than you.
there are a lot of rumours float around Congress, yes, and on that last year, no, why no army yet look where we will have to see what happens I mean this has been. I think fast, moving situation where you know, standards and guidelines have shifted and You know I I do think at the end of the day, the present situation and the way more situation revealed was a lot of cynicism and a lot of people's behaviour on all sides of that, but ultimately it landed in a better equally M than where we were before, and sometimes in politics cynicism in low partisan motives can in fact force people to raise the bar and an improved situations, and if it is true that there are like dozens more misconduct, delegations to come, it will be interesting to see where that checks out, I mean, does it somehow well the system right right order
it led to? Does it become like a huge political weapon that then it so powerful that that did it to be wielded, but then having been wielded that way, we We causes more rigorous behaviour in the future right, because these things, these things can happen. Ride like the stakes and partisan politics are high enough, that even people and institutions that dont want to change can sometimes forced themselves to an ordered it, can take advantage of the situation. I mean we are only eleven years out from add the Republicans losing the house in part, because in the month before, the action James fully was revealed to have engaged in sexual explicit. I am with pages, you know it's not like those things can be a factor in elect. and you know, as you ve just seen in alabama- it's really hard to argue that without the Washington Post story coming out of
about Roy more that he still would have lost bad. You know that the question is always going to be: do you trust the after it to be setting the standards for moral behaviour, or do you decide, You're gonna get out ahead of the electorate and assume that you know don't know what norms around us are going to be in November, two thousand and eighteen. I think it's actually going to be really hard decision for Congress. Do they get out ahead of the here's to be a norm. Changing toward less tolerance in hopes that in the past it is willing to meet them their next year, or rather info or that if they dont the political, kick people out for them or say well things path, This is a very it near. There's a lot of news going on right. Now, not everyone knows about every allegation against every member. Let's sit Pat and hope that the waters have receded and while we wait,
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Transcript generated on 2021-09-12.