Fifteen minutes before every news channel in America turned to the US Capitol Building for the State of the Union address, and T minus two and a half hours before all US citizens turned on their TVs to watch Jimmy Kimmel Live! for the much-anticipated Stormy Daniels interview–and the only 100 percent-definite moment of the year that Donald Trump will be off Twitter for a couple hours–Hillary Clinton chose to address the sexual harassment controversy on her 2008 campaign in a Facebook post.
Four days ago, the New York Times reported that Clinton chose to keep on her “faith advisor” and senior campaign staffer Burns Strider after a female employee came forward with a sexual harassment complaint. Instead–against the advice of Clinton’s campaign manager–the woman was reportedly moved to a different position, and Strider was docked pay and forced to attend counseling. Strider apparently learned nothing, as he was fired from an independent organization supporting Clinton’s 2016 campaign for, among other things, sexual harassment.
“You may question why it’s taken me time to speak on this at length,” Clinton posts on her Facebook page. “The answer is simple: I’ve been grappling with this and thinking about how best to share my thoughts.”
Soo, what’s this she’s been thinkin’ over for four days all the way up to 8:45 PM EST on Tuesday?
In sum: She believes in second chances, and out of thousands of personnel decisions, this one happened to let her down. If she had known then what she knows now, she would have done things differently, and the incident has troubled her throughout the years, she says, especially since he was later fired for a similar offense. Also, she is a woman, guys.
“The boss was a woman. Does a woman have a responsibility to come down even harder on the perpetrator?,” she wonders. “I don’t know.”
Her newfound insights defy logic, however, as though the woman’s job reassignment was a fitting “second chance” punishment for Strider:
Senior campaign staff and legal counsel spoke to both her and the offender. They determined that he had in fact engaged in inappropriate behavior. My then-campaign manager presented me with her findings. She recommended that he be fired. I asked for steps that could be taken short of termination. In the end, I decided to demote him, docking his pay; separate him from the woman; assign her to work directly for my then-deputy-campaign manager; put in place technical barriers to his emailing her; and require that he seek counseling. He would also be warned that any subsequent harassment of any kind toward anyone would result in immediate termination.
I did this because I didn’t think firing him was the best solution to the problem. He needed to be punished, change his behavior, and understand why his actions were wrong. The young woman needed to be able to thrive and feel safe. I thought both could happen without him losing his job. I believed the punishment was severe and the message to him unambiguous.
So why now? She says it was a conversation with the accuser herself who inspired her to make the statement, concluding that Hillary Clinton is a sensible leader. Yuck:
I was inspired by my conversation with this young woman to express my own thinking on the matter. You may question why it’s taken me time to speak on this at length. The answer is simple: I’ve been grappling with this and thinking about how best to share my thoughts. I hope that my doing so will push others to keep having this conversation – to ask and try to answer the hard questions, not just in the abstract but in the real-life contexts of our roles as men, women, bosses, employees, advocates, and public officials. I hope that women will continue to talk and write about their own experiences and that they will continue leading this critical debate, which, done right, will lead to a better, fairer, safer country for us all.
Hindsight is 20/20.
But better if nobody sees.