Do I have anything to add to the national feeding frenzy over Ernest Hewett?
Probably not, but here goes. My guess is he probably didn’t fully understand the words tumbling out of his mouth, but that doesn’t amount to any kind of free pass. This was a public hearing. You are a legislator. This is all going on the record. The deal is: you think before you run your mouth. (Not that most of them do.) While I’m on the subject, shut up, Mr. Hewett. Do not elaborate any further. It is too late to tell you: don’t explain why you don’t have female interns or utter any sentences that contain the words “grab a woman by the bottom, her breasts.” Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Exactly how dumb are you? Who is handling you?
In fact, until he started doing all this explaining, I was still harboring a smidgen of sympathy for Hewett. It seemed possible that maybe he just blurted out something stupid and Freudian and totally out of character. He wouldn’t be the first person. But the more he spins, the more he sounds like one very weird, inappropriate dude.
Looking for a silver lining, I give high marks to Speaker Sharkey. This is how you deal with something like this. You swing the ax right away. You deal one decisive blow. Boom. You’re gone as Deputy Speaker. You lose 20 percent of your pay. You apologize. You take your demotion like a man. We move on. And it would have worked, too, if Hewett had shut up. I mean, he wold have been “the snake guy” at some demi-legendary level forever at the State Capitol, but people have lived down worse stuff. There are people sitting around him who have mugshots from DUI’s, right?
He also blundered into one very hot minefield. For very good reason, hustling and hassling young women is a national tripwire. The Onion just apologized for a joke about a young girl. Letterman, when he and his writers confused Bristol and Willow and made a bad joke about getting “knocked up,” apologized at some length. (And immediately.) Even Limbaugh apologized to Sandra Fluke, although he waited way too long, until it appeared to be prompted by all those advertiser defections. This is a very specific kind of trespass and nobody gets out of it unscathed.
Oh, if you’re wondering how somebody like this could be Deputy Speaker, let me explain. There are usually about six of them. School crossing guards need and have a lot more expertise. A reasonably sentient ham sandwich could be Deputy Speaker in Connecticut. And has been.
P.S. Did I mention: Shut up?