Late last week, the New York Times published an expose of Hollywood power player Harvey Weinstein, who, it appears, is a creep and a sexual predator who “paid off sexual harassment accusers for decades.” The Times report opened the floodgates. A number of women have come forward to relate experiences that seem to confirm the Times allegations, close associates of Weinstein have left his employ and/or distanced themselves from him, and the Board of his eponymous company has fired him, “effective immediately.”

Some people and organizations have drawn flak for not leaping on this story with the same speed and degree of outrage that was exhibited when people like Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilley were alleged to have behaved similarly, including a “your silence is deafening” accusation by actress Rose McGowan.

Still, given Weinstein’s power, it’s a fast and irrecoverable fall from grace, and, presuming the shitstorm is valid, both well-deserved. The response has been fairly robust, and while some deserve criticism for their meekness or silence, others deserve acknowledgment or praise for not dabbling or dithering.

Consider, though, one of the many reactions to this revelation: the donation “refunds” that many politicians are now making sure we know about. In New York, Governor Cuomo and both Senators have announced that they’re giving donations received from Weinstein to various charities. Many other politicians are doing the same.

On its face, this seems a reasonable response, and presents as bold and decisive. But, lets ponder this… lets call it a “divestment of tainted money.”

What’s the point? The politicians who received these donations presumably did not know of Weinstein’s predations, and the money they received was certainly not given to advance an agenda that would facilitate such predations. These politicians ran on agendas that they, Weinstein, and other Democrats/liberals considered worthy. These agendas haven’t changed one whit in light of the NY Times expose, have they? So, why the hoopla about giving away Weinstein’s money?

I get that they’re generally sending the money to charities that focus on victims of harassment and predation, charities that we can presume do good work and help victims, but wouldn’t it be as or more effective for these politicians to declare that they’re going to increase their efforts to protect women from the likes of Weinstein, and to use the money they received from him for those increased efforts? And, if the charities were doing good work beforehand, why leap now to give them this extra money?

Obviously, this divestment is about optics and virtue signaling more than it is about tainted money. It’s how they wash their hands of Weinstein, a Hollywood bigwig with whom they’ve been palling around for years and who has been a driving force in their party’s political power.

And, obviously, this is what politicians do, and will always do. So, why bother blogging about it? Just to suggest that we don’t fall for it, that we don’t come away thinking that Cuomo, Schumer, Gillibrand, Booker, et al, are engaging in a selfless and altruistic gesture, one that’s bold, decisive and demonstrative of their qualities.

Cynical? Obviously. Much has been written decrying cynicism about politics, but politics proves the cynics right, time and time again.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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