The Time is Now: This Democrat Who Opposes Kellyanne Conway Has Come to Wish Her Well

A warning to my sister and brother Democrats and others with a rational mind:   I am writing this column to praise Kellyanne Conway for stepping down from the Trump Administration to tend to her family in distress, exactly as her husband George is doing by stepping down from The Lincoln Project.

How could I say anything nice about Kellyanne?   I have opposed her on everything for which she has stood throughout her career.   I am no fan – quite an understatement from someone not known for understatement.

But my visceral reaction to Kellyanne is not based on ideology.  I am from the old school in which I fight like hell for my progressive causes, just as Speaker Tip O’Neill did when he fought President Ronald Reagan, and then break bread with my adversaries as the O’Neill and Reagan did.  I don’t need to hate anyone who holds different views from mine.  I simply need to beat them in the political arena.  That thinking is how I maintained friendly relations with John Tomicki, leader of the grassroots opposition to marriage equality, when I ran Garden State Equality.  It never affected my battle toughness or his.

My problem with Kellyanne comes from my conviction she believes not an ounce her White House spin.  She can’t stand Donald Trump, and don’t tell me otherwise.   Consider what she told Jake Tapper on CNN in 2016, when she worked for Ted Cruz when he was running for the Republican nomination against Trump:   “We hear from the Trump campaign, ‘it’s not fair, the system’s rigged, the system’s corrupt.’  He can whine and complain all he wants.”

Sounds familiar, right?  Also while supporting Cruz, Conway told CNN:  Trump “actually built a lot of his business on the backs of the little guy” and has a history of “not paying contractors.”   Other times on CNN, she called him “vulgar” and said he presented “the danger of just saying things that aren’t true.”

Folks, let’s cannot equate those things as primary bygones be bygones, akin to Kamala Harris’ one attack on Joe Biden at a Democratic primary debate in which Senator Harris made perfectly clear she believes Joe Biden is a good man who is not a racist.  Kellyanne Conway attacked Trump repeatedly and mercilessly.  And she did it from the heart, for no political consultant had to prepare her thoughts and words.  For heaven’s sake, she IS a political consultant.

Kellyanne has been dangerous not because she is a true believer of Trump, but precisely because she is a nonbeliever who sold her soul for the sake of power, as nonbelievers like Trump himself have done.   This not to say she is anything but a conservative Republican, for she came of age as a supporter of both Presidents Bush.  But neither of them voted for Trump in 2016.   As for 2020, no one doubts George W. Bush will vote for Joe Biden in November, just as dozens of senior Republicans who worked for Bush Administrations over 12 years have already announced they will.

By every indication, Kellyanne’s politics are with The Lincoln Project, and she would be a part of the group if she didn’t work for its target.   She’d be a good bet, in my view, to be the “Anonymous” author who wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in 2018 as a Trump Administration insider who believes Trump is deranged.

If you’ve wondered how Kellyanne could stay married to George Conway through all his merciless attacks on Trump, and by extension, on Kellyanne’s work, I say she’s been on it the whole time.  It’s how she lives with herself.   And who knows?  It may be how she and her husband get jobs in the media once Biden is elected President.  They could be the next James Carville and Mary Matalin.  Or at least the next Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

Now that you know what I think of Kellyanne, let’s come back full circle.   Why would I praise her?  And why bother praise her at all when she stayed in her job long past the time when her daughter Claudia was Tweeting away such anguish?  I don’t know any Democrat, myself included, who read Claudia’s tweets and thought, good for Claudia for being an independent thinker who is letting her mother have it, and deservedly.   I saw a child in pain.

This week, Claudia, only 15, tweeted her desire to become an emancipated minor because of “years of childhood trauma and abuse.”  I had tears and a lump in my throat.  Many of us adults, including me, had rough childhoods.  In Claudia, I reflected upon my inner child.   But where I am from, a child enters talk therapy between kindergarten and the age of Bar or Bat Mitzvah, and your parents and their friends go to the local deli to debate whose child has the best shrink.   It’s an honor, not a stigma.

Kellyanne and George both did the right thing in tending to their family.  No lectures, please, on how they did it too late.  Many parents with careers never do the right thing.  Heck, I am not even a parent and I know, too, the price that devotion to one’s work can have on family life.  During my nearly 10 years running Garden State Equality, there were times I should have done more to tend to my former 23-year relationship.  Several of us leaders in the marriage equality movement gave our lives so intently to the work, our marriages didn’t make it, ironically.  True, we were no Kellyanne Conways.  We were soldiers for justice rather than hired guns for power.  Nonetheless, we got sucked into public life at the expense of our family lives.

So even though Kellyanne and George could have made their decisions earlier to focus more on parenthood, right now they deserve our grace for having made the right decisions at last.  Not everything in life should be politics, not even for those of us who have been part of it.  Not everything in life merits a partisan reaction either.

I wish the Conway family healing and love, and whichever your political party, you should, too.

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