On Tuesday the Women's Equality Act will be introduced in Albany. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will crow like a Roman rooster announcing the thing; Assemb. Speaker Sheldon Silver and his robotic conference will pass it faster than serial sexual harasser Vito Lopez can grab a derrière; professional feminists will hail the 10-point omnibus bill as a 21st century Declaration of Sentiments. And, in the process, the damnable lie that is Albany politics will be on contemptible display for the whole world to see.
Because if there's anything that's been made clear in Albany this year, it's that, when push comes to shove, no one in power gives a whiff of a damn about actual victims -- not when it might upset business as usual among the old boys' network, which now includes women. They'll sound like Gloria Steinem at the news conference, but they act like dumbstruck apparatchiks when it counts.
The Women's Equality Act may have some good things in it (and some not so good things), but its introduction will serve more as an indictment of its sponsors than as a vanguard of progressive politics. Essentially none of them will have lifted a finger to challenge Silver's status as Assembly speaker, and, after all he's done to cover up sex assaults in Albany over the past 19 years, that's despicable.
It's staggering, really, that those remaining mum about the speaker's actions would have the temerity to introduce this bill now, which preposterously claims that it will "stop sexual harassment in all workplaces." Albany is in the process of burying sexual harassment's latest iteration in the unfortunate personage of Lopez; do they think no one will notice the timing?
The list of Albany leaders complicit in this whitewash is near complete.
Silver: He systematically protected male colleagues accused of rape and sexual abuse and used taxpayer money, at least three times, to silence victims. Those he protected went on to attack again.
Cuomo: He has refused to appoint a multijurisdictional special prosecutor to pursue criminal charges against Lopez or Silver, as has been called for by state Republican Chairman Ed Cox.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman: He signed off on the hush-money deal in the Lopez case and failed to pursue criminal charges. He didn't even investigate.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli: He cut the checks going to the victims.
Assembly Democrats: They have refused to challenge Silver's leadership. Only two of 109 Democrats in the Assembly have called upon Silver to resign his post.
Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb: Not a peep from him. He has, curiously, been struck dumb, as have all but a handful in his conference.
Feminists: Not one prominent feminist has called on Silver to step aside.
All of them, except the pro-life Kolb, will gush about the Women's Equality Act when it is rolled out Tuesday. They will further the absurd talking point already being used that the act will ensure that this time things will really change in Albany.
But let's be clear about what they are condoning: Young women appealed for help from the Assembly speaker after being sexually abused, and they were treated like human waste. Their assailants were protected, and struck again.
There's a wickedly delicious scene at the close of Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" in which Nazi antagonist Colonel Hans Landa is branded on the forehead with a swastika, a mark the SS turncoat can never escape. If this Albany tragedy were a Tarantino screenplay, there'd be an iron with a capital "H" warming somewhere in the capital basement. The "H" would mark the hypocrites too cowardly to challenge Silver and too obtuse to recognize their absurdity in heralding the Women's Equality Act at the same time.
William F. B. O'Reilly is a Newsday columnist and a Republican political consultant.