I keep thinking of the movie Network lately, as I watch the Democratic Party’s current demonstration of its ability to absorb every well-intentioned social movement in our society and spit it back out in a corrupted and meaningless form. In the film it was television that had the power to turn activists into performers and idealists into ratings-obsessed monsters. And indeed, Paddy Cheyefsky’s prophetic vision holds true today in that medium, as demonstrated nightly by formerly progressive radio host turned corporate shill, Rachael Maddow. But the idiot box has nothing on the Democratic Party for its capacity to taint everyone and everything it comes in contact with, including its own voters. That’s how people who are ostensibly anti-war, have ended up lionizing a figure like Obama, who inherited two wars, and left us with seven. That’s how people who are in theory fiercely protective of civil liberties, have ended up touting the CIA and the FBI as defenders of the nation’s freedom. And that’s how people who have been drawing public attention to the issue of sexual assault for several years can resort to using the same smear tactics against Tara Reade that they’ve been rightly calling out as disgraceful when deployed by others. In some ways it isn’t their fault really. A fish rots from the head, and once again the party’s leadership is forcing its voters to make a choice between their convictions and their candidate. It’s a lot harder to choose the candidate if you don’t first find a way around your convictions. Denying Tara Reade’s allegations is the shortest path to that goal, so they’re cranking the denialism up to 11, with a big assist from the parade of sociopaths and narcissists that have come out to run cover for Biden this week. So, without further ado, here are this week’s contestants in the Big Democratic Party Hypocrite-Off:

  1. Nancy Pelosi

Special Skills: Passing Trump’s military budgets, Marie Antoinette cosplay Net Worth: $120M

Statement on Kavanaugh: “Yesterday, the American people were heartbroken and deeply moved by the courageous testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Dr. Ford told her story with extraordinary dignity, bravery and unimpeachable credibility. I applaud her courage for coming forward to share her story, and I believe her.” Statement on Biden: “I am very much involved in this issue. I always want to give the opportunity that women deserve to be heard. I am satisfied with his answer, yes.”

As those of you who follow my column know, I’m a betting man. I’m offering 3-2 odds that Pelosi pulls the Blasey Ford page from her website in the next 30 days. Any takers?

To top it off, Pelosi went on to publicly endorse Biden, even after a Larry King interview with Reade’s mother surfaced, which at least in part, corroborated her story. Nancy is setting the bar pretty high here for her fellow contestants. 2. Stacey Abrams

Special Skills: Self-promotion, foreign policy independent study

Net Worth: $500,000

Statement on Kavanaugh: “After the courageous and compelling testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford yesterday, it is shameful that Kavanaugh’s nomination is being rushed forward. I believe women, and I believe survivors of violence always deserve to be supported and to have their voices heard. A Supreme Court hearing is a job interview for one of the most critical roles in our democracy. If there is even a hint of impropriety, let alone the credible allegations bravely brought forward by Dr. Ford, we should pause and thoroughly investigate them, rather than rush forward.” Statement on Biden: “I believe Joe Biden. I know Joe Biden, and I think that he is telling the truth and that this did not happen.”

As the person most willing and eager to be used as a prop by the Biden campaign in order to cover for his appalling record on issues of importance to POC, Abrams has emerged as perhaps the most unabashed self-promoter in the field. Other than becoming understandably active in the effort to ensure election integrity after being cheated out of the Governorship of Georgia, Abrams isn’t associated with any particular policies, positions, or principles, which makes her an ideal figure for a party that prefers symbolic diversity over the enacting of legislation that might offer some actual relief to the diverse. She’s also shown her willingness to cover for old white men accused of sexual improprieties already, by refusing to condemn Michael Bloomberg during his brief and disastrous presidential run. She did, however, stray from her tabula rasa style of politics in the Kavanaugh affair. And more than any other surrogate, she stuck closely to the Biden campaign’s talking points, by repeatedly referring incorrectly to the NYT investigation of Reade’s claims as proof of Biden’s innocence, prompting the Times itself to refute her mischaracterization. She also ignored the fact that the article was altered to be less damning under pressure from the Biden campaign. Abrams may be a relative newcomer to national politics, but she’s already giving old hypocrisy pros like Pelosi a run for their money. 3. Kirsten Gillibrand

Special Skills: Virtue-signaling, self-reinvention

Net Worth: $200K

Statement on Kavanaugh: “This process is sending the worst possible message to girls and boys everywhere. It’s telling American women that your voice doesn’t matter. It’s telling survivors everywhere that your experiences don’t count, they’re not important and they are not to be believed. We are saying that women are worth less than a man’s promotion.” Statement on Biden: “So when we say believe women, it’s for this explicit intention of making sure there’s space for all women to come forward to speak their truth, to be heard. And in this allegation, that is what Tara Reade has done. She has come forward, she has spoken, and they have done an investigation in several outlets. Those investigations, Vice President Biden has called for himself. Vice President Biden has vehemently denied these allegations, and I support Vice President Biden.”

Senator. Kirsten. Gillibrand. OMG, and holy shit. How on earth can you build your entire brand around advocacy for victims of sexual assault and then turn right around and throw Tara Reade under the bus? I mean, just, how do you do that? Is it congenital? Is the shame gene missing? Just. Fucking. Amazing. No need to delve too deeply into Senator Gillibrand’s well-known record on these issues, but some of the highlights include introducing legislation to combat sexual assault in the military, driving Al Franken out of DC on a rail, and publicly stating that Bill Clinton should have resigned over Monica Lewinsky. 4. Bernie Sanders

Special Skills: Small-dollar fundraising, sheepdogging progressives into the Democratic party, revolutionary cosplay

Net Worth: $2M

Statement on Kavanaugh: “The revelations today confirm what we already knew: during his hearing, Kavanaugh faced credible accusations and likely lied to Congress. I support any appropriate constitutional mechanism to hold him accountable.” Statement on Biden: “We need you in the White House. I will do all that I can to see that that happens, Joe.”

While Sanders has not directly addressed the allegations, his endorsement of Joe Biden well after those revelations were made public is a pretty clear statement in and of itself. I know some will be unhappy with the inclusion of Sanders on this list, but in a piece about hypocrisy, it’s best not to be a hypocrite. 5. Joe Biden

Special Skills: Pathological lying, groping children Net Worth: $9M

Statement on Kavanaugh: “For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time. But nobody fails to understand that this is like jumping into a cauldron.” Statement on Biden: “What I said during the Kavanaugh hearings was that she had the right to be heard. The fact that (Ford) came forward, the presumption would be she’s telling the truth unless it’s proved she wasn’t telling the truth or not proved, but unless it’s clear from the facts surrounding it, it’s not the truth.”

Predictably, Joe Biden’s views on how society should evaluate claims of sexual assault have changed dramatically now that he finds himself accused of it. What’s really interesting in Biden’s case is that he was a principal proponent in the Obama White House of creating new standards for evaluating sexual assault allegations on college campuses that eliminated the rights of the accused to any form of due process, extending even to knowing exactly what the specific charges were. Hundreds of lawsuits against colleges have been the result. Even more interesting, those new standards broadened the definition of sexual assault to include unwanted touching, and commenting on someone’s attractiveness, if that behavior made the person feel uncomfortable. So, by the standards that Biden helped to impose on college students with the same kind of zeal with which he once advocated for draconian prison sentences for drug abusers, Biden is guilty as sin of a multitude of crimes, many of them caught on video. But just as there’s one rule for addicts without political connections, and another for his son, there’s one rule for students not named Biden, and another for the man himself.

Winner: This is some fierce competition, but by simple virtue of being inarguably the most out front on the problem of sexual violence of any elected official in Washington, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, takes home the big prize for most disgusting hypocrite of the week. And what does she win? A complete loss of credibility on her core issue. And what do survivors get? The consequent loss of their most high-profile advocate in Washington, now that she can never speak on these subjects again without being asked, “So, what about Biden?” Way to go Kirsten! Maybe they’ll give you an ambassadorship or something, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Honorable mentions: James Clyburn: “I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us. I didn’t get there without long, extensive background with Joe Biden, without a long experience with Joe Biden. My late wife to whom I was married for 58 years loved Joe Biden. And more importantly, she respected Joe Biden.” Alyssa Milano: “I just don’t feel comfortable throwing away a decent man that I’ve known for 15 years in this time of complete chaos without there being a thorough investigation.” Hillary Clinton: Okay, she doesn’t really belong on this list. You can’t be called a hypocrite on sexual violence when you’ve been covering for Bill Clinton’s one-man crusade to assault every woman in spitting distance for several decades. But endorsing Biden on the day Reade’s story was confirmed by a friend, and during what was billed as a “women’s issues town hall,” was a special kind of evil, even if it wasn’t particularly hypocritical coming from Hill.

Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP