Schneiderman scandal: When politics takes precedence over physical safety we need to wake up

A report by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer Monday in the New Yorker Magazine laid out shocking accusations against New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and forced his resignation a few hours later.

For New Yorkers, it was a strange flashback to the tumultuous tenure of Eliot Spitzer, who held the New York attorney general position for two terms before becoming governor. Spitzer stayed in office until he was caught patronizing prostitutes and forced to resign ten years ago last month.

Like Spitzer, Schneiderman was the great liberal hope. He was going places and he would be defeating Republicans along the way.

In a piece for the Politico Magazine titled “Will This Man Take Down Donald Trump?” David Freedlander wrote that Schneiderman was “emerging as one of the leaders of the Resistance.” And a column in the New York Daily News considered that “New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman could be President Trump’s greatest fear in the Russia probe.” Like Spitzer, Schneiderman had all the right enemies. And like Spitzer, he felt he was above the law.

This story should be an eye-opener that our tribal political squabbles have gone too far. We have to stop putting political goals before everything else.

In his initial statement after the New Yorker story broke, Schneiderman said, “In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”

For a supposed champion of women and supporter of the “#MeToo” movement, the statement immediately made no sense. The women say they did not consent, and that many of the assaults happened outside the bedroom. His dismissal of their complaints didn’t fit his persona.

As Atlantic writer Julia Ioffe tweeted “The Eric Schneiderman story is yet more confirmation of Czeslaw Milosz's idea of "Ketman": the man who rails the loudest against a sinner is often an even bigger sinner himself.”

The story of what he allegedly did to the women is sickening and haunting and is only made worse by the role of politics in it. At one point, according to the New Yorker article, Schneiderman told a victim who fought back while he was beating her, "You know, hitting an officer of the law is a felony." He had the power and would use it to shut her down.

One of the women said that her friends dissuaded her from coming forward. “A number of them advised her to keep the story to herself, arguing that Schneiderman was too valuable a politician for the Democrats to lose. She described this response as heartbreaking.”

Another of Schneiderman’s victims didn’t complain because “he’s a good attorney general, he’s doing good things. I didn’t want to jeopardize that.”

This story should be an eye-opener that our tribal political squabbles have gone too far. We have to stop putting political goals before everything else. When we put them before our own physical safety, it is long past time to reassess.