Democrat James Clyburn Says a Little Sexual Harassment Is Okay Plus Conyers's Accusers Are White Women (UPDATED)


John Conyers isn’t going anywhere unless he just gets tired of being at center ring of this crap-show. Why? Let’s talk to his fellow Civil Rights “icon” and colleague in the Congressional Black Caucus, James Clyburn:


This is the way Politico describes it:

Rep. Jim Clyburn suggested Wednesday that his House colleague Rep. John Conyers should be held to a different standard when it comes to the possibility of resignation over allegations of sexual assault, saying that Conyers’ status as an elected member of Congress places him in a different category from media and entertainment figures who have had similar accusations leveled against them.

Clyburn (D-S.C.) was walking inside the Capitol with the Congressional Black Caucus chairman, Cedric Richmond (D-La.), when a reporter asked the two about public figures who have been recently accused of sexual misconduct and have promptly been fired or otherwise removed from their positions. Richmond replied that he would need to hear examples of such figures, prompting multiple reporters to offer the names of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and TV anchors Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer.

“Who elected them?” Clyburn replied as he and Richmond got into an elevator, whose doors closed before the South Carolina congressman could respond to a follow-up question. A video of the exchange was posted to Twitter by NBC News producer Alex Moe.

Technically, he has a point. Conyers was elected by his district and ultimately it is up to them to make the prudential judgment as to whether Conyers inviting women to his office while he is clad only in his underwear (I have to admit my skin crawled a bit writing that) outweighs the good things he can bring home. The other people listed by the NBC producer are employees of organizations who, on balance, made the decision that they posed more of a liability than a benefit. The same process will play out for Conyers but, rather than facing an angry board of directors fearful of product boycott or lawsuit or damage to a corporate brand today, next year Conyers will get to face the voters who have usually given him over 75% of the vote.


Unless the House acts to expel Conyers–a highly unlikely happening as there are probably an Imelda-Marcos-esque quantity of shoes waiting to drop and right now there are at least a couple of dozen members of Congress saying “there but for the Grace of God go I”–we may not like what Clyburn says but he’s simply giving voice to the truth.

The second part of this equation is that, unlike with the other cases that have been in the news, John Conyers’s accusers are not going to get the presumption of truthfulness.

Representative James E. Clyburn, who is a member of the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives, said he was not sure the claims “have any real substance.”

“You can’t jump to conclusions with these types of things,” he said. “For all I know, all of this could be made up.”

And, of course, there is the racial edge:

I can’t imagine how that anecdote got worked into a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus…or why, even if it wasn’t about Conyers, it would be acceptable.


(Sorry, but if I have to choose between a reporter for the New York Times Magazine reporting against his own interests, and Clyburn denial backed up by a BuzzFeed toad I know where I’m going.)

As far as I’m concerned, the only shock here is that people are shocked that Clyburn thinks members of Congress are some sort of aristocracy. He’s been there for decades. He knows the deal. We should thank him for leveling with us.



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