That frantic clicking you heard as news broke of then-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s alleged physical abuse of four women was the sound of pundits pounding their keyboards. The attorney general’s enemies took to Twitter, as Schneiderman had been an outspoken opponent of President Trump. Donald Trump Jr. tweeted gleefully, dancing in the light of Schneiderman’s career going down in flames, as did Kellyanne Conway. But the left was not without its inflamed reactions as well, especially since Schneiderman had professed himself a feminist ally.
In the two days since Schneiderman resigned, the media has produced analyses at breakneck speed. Here is a rundown of some of the takes on Schneiderman’s downfall currently taking the Internet by storm.
Take 1: Schneiderman is not personally essential to the liberal cause because other attorneys general will play the same role
Mark Joseph Stern wrote in Slate that Schneiderman’s political grandstanding as a leader of the resistance didn’t make him indispensable. “The truth is that while Schneiderman was quite adept at publicizing his legal battles against Trump, he was not a uniquely masterful legal adversary of the president,” Stern wrote.
“As attorney general, Schneiderman participated in lawsuits against the Trump administration’s three travel bans, its attempt to repeal the Clean Power Plan, its efforts to delay energy efficiency standards, its attack on sanctuary cities, its revocation of net neutrality, its rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and its rollback of the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. … Yet Schneiderman was not alone in these crusades. In each suit, he joined together with a coalition of other Democratic attorneys general – usually about 16 to 22 – so that no one state had to go it alone. Yes, his office occasionally played a vital role in spearheading the lawsuits. But if it hadn’t, another attorney general would have.”
Take 2: Schneiderman is not personally essential to the liberal cause because the next New York attorney general will play the same role
NY1’s Errol Louis wrote an op-ed for CNN looking at the local angle and coming to the same conclusion as Stern. Louis wrote: “Schneiderman used the office the way his predecessors did, mounting probes of major corporations, including ExxonMobil (sued for not disclosing the negative impact on investors of climate change), along with Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs (sued for misleading investors about the impending financial crisis a decade ago). The next attorney general is likely to continue the Spitzer-Cuomo-Schneiderman tradition of building a following among national Democrats as an energetic opponent of corporate misbehavior and of conservative White House policies. So, while the Trump administration may be chuckling at the downfall of one nemesis, it should understand that Schneiderman will be replaced by another.”
Take 3: Schneiderman’s abuse is a betrayal of the feminism he claimed to represent
Many feminists who are angered that a man who advocated so strongly on behalf of women was at the same time allegedly abusing them. Jill Filipovic wrote in The New York Times that “it hurts most when it’s one of the ‘good’ ones.”
Filipovic continued: “The power he derived from his role in progressive politics was intertwined with his abuse. He seems to have used his feminist-minded political work to advance his own career, to ingratiate himself with the women he would go on to harm, and to cover up his cruelties. … And while this is just one disturbing story, it cuts to the heart of the incongruities of being a progressive woman in 2018: Donald Trump, who boasted about sexually assaulting and degrading women, is the president; the rage and dismay brought on by his election has also meant that powerful men are finally being called to account. And yet that accounting has made clear that even the men we thought we could trust – especially, perhaps, the ostentatiously good ones – may not be quite what they seem.”
Katha Pollitt, writing in The Nation, was similarly disturbed.
Pollitt wrote: “Neither party has a monopoly on men who behave atrociously to women. How simple life would be if only conservatives, or liberals – or whites or persons of color, or rich or poor or machos or milquetoasts – were abusers. In fact, though, the only thing one can say with assurance is that they’re men. Yes, I know women can be abusers, and I know some men are great, but at the moment #NotAllMen is looking more like a wish than a declarative statement.”
Take 4: Schneiderman represents the hypocrisy of the left
Then there were the conservatives who blamed the left for claiming to support women while elevating so many questionable men.
Liz Peek argued in Fox News that many people had known about Schneiderman’s bad behavior, but did nothing because Schneiderman was considered an important political figure. This is confirmed in part by The New Yorker, which reports that a former girlfriend told friends about Schneiderman’s behavior, but they “advised her to keep the story to herself, arguing that Schneiderman was too valuable a politician for the Democrats to lose.”
Peek wrote: “More inexcusable is that nobody on the left wanted to take down the #MeToo advocate because they feared losing an important voice for progressive values, even if that voice was entirely phony.”
Take 5: Schneiderman was a creature of Albany
Seth Barron, another conservative, took a more local angle in City Journal.
Barron wrote: “It is a particularly grotesque coda to this affair that the choice of a new attorney general will be entirely in the hands of Albany legislators, who can appoint anyone they wish. Albany – which spawned and nurtured Schneiderman – is a notorious pit of abuse and dysfunction. Harassment of female staffers was hushed up and paid off for years under indicted former assembly speaker Sheldon Silver. It is a certainty that Schneiderman’s replacement will have roots in this same poisoned soil.”