Facing mounting claims of sexual harassment and increasing pressure from Democratic leaders, Michigan Rep. John Conyers announced that he is resigning the Detroit-area seat he’s held since 1964.
But, the way he did it suggests Conyers still doesn’t get the issue. At all.
Conyers made the announcement on Mildred Gaddis’ show in Detroit – 102.7 on your radio dial – on Tuesday morning. And, he spent the bulk of the first part of the interview assuring Gaddis and her listeners that his family is doing “excellent” amid the allegations made against him by a number of former female staffers. (Conyers was making the call from a local hospital where he has been since late last month.)
Which is fine. But it isn’t the point. Or close to the point.
Gaddis eventually pivoted the conversation to talk about Conyers’ legacy – and whether it would be impacted by the allegations against him.
“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” Conyers insisted. “This too shall pass.”
Uh, no. The reality – whether Conyers wants to acknowledge it – is that he is being run out of office because of these allegations. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, had already called for Conyers to resign. Ditto Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico. A House Ethics Committee investigation had been launched.
Yes, Conyers tried to fight these allegations – insisting they were all false. But, that didn’t slow the push to get him out of Congress as soon as possible.
Conyers has had a remarkably long Congressional career. And a distinguished one, having chaired the Judiciary Committee and served as the dean of the House – an honor given to the member who has been in office the longest. But, there is zero debate that the circumstances surrounding his resignation will be a part of his political legacy. A major part.
Then there was the fact that Conyers not only announced his plans to resign but also said he wants his son, John Conyers III, to replace him in office. (Conyers III is 27 years old and has never held elected office before.)
You are being pushed out of Congress amid sexual harassment allegations – and whispers that you stuck around too long. What better way to satisfy those critics than to try to install your son into the office you have occupied across six decades!
Tone deaf, thy name is Conyers.
It’s a near certainty that little of Conyers’ bungled resignation announcement will make any difference – either to the national party or in the race to replace him. Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership is just happy he’s gone – no matter how it happened. And, Conyers’ son is likely to face off against Conyers’ great nephew in the race to replace him – taking the whole nepotism thing down a few notches.
Still! Conyers’ resignation speaks to the remarkable lack of self-awareness that is an all-too-common trait in modern politics. And it’s a major reason why people are sick to death of politics – and both political parties.