Closure is good. Finding out the identity of the killer, watching the princess marry her prince, or figuring out exactly who won that midterm seat is a thing of beauty. That's why I was thrilled in a mean-girl way to realize that Kathleen Kane was finally going to jail. Or to put it another way, Kane was going to be the newest member of the old-boys-club that includes people like Vince Fumo, Buddy Cianfrani, Mike Veon, Bill DeWeese, Rolf Larsen, Seth Williams, and John Perzel.
That incomplete list of shame covers Pennsylvania politicians who were convicted of crimes and, in most cases, spent time behind bars. Kane, who was convicted of perjury and sentenced almost two years ago to a term of 10 to 23 months, always blamed her troubles on the "old boys" who didn't want a woman sticking her inquisitive nose into their business.
Ironically, she proved herself to be a prototypical "old boy," abusing the privileges of office to both enrich herself personally and exact revenge on her enemies, perceived or imagined. In doing so, Kane provided a valuable public service: She showed us that women can be just as incompetent and dishonest as the men they want to replace.
I've spent the last few years obsessed with Kane. I've written articles about her as the most photogenic attorney general in Pennsylvania history (admittedly not a high bar) and criticizing her refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act and her feud with other prosecutors and her inattention to the actual duties of her office and, most especially, her persecution complex. In 2015, when she was still under investigation and gave a truly bizarre news conference announcing developments in the Porngate scandal to deflect attention from her own problems, I compared her to a warbler from the Grand Ole Opry:
"And that is exactly what Kathleen Kane wants us to feel: sympathy. She has turned this whole affair into a country music song where they (the "boys") done her wrong and she has to find that inner strength to go on. But whereas Loretta Lynn might have been a coal miner's daughter, the stuff Kathleen is shoveling is a lot more malleable."
I wrote a lot of other things about Kane over the years, many of which had male readers accusing me of jealousy and cattiness. (I admit: I do envy her teeth and hair.)
But as someone who despises when people place race, religion, orientation, or most especially gender above true merit in assessing value, it was impossible to ignore just how flagrantly Kane manipulated her "young girl" status to destroy the "old boy" regime.
As a "young girl" once myself, many moons ago, and as someone who never used her gender to seek a social or professional advantage, the fact that Pennsylvania embraced this woman when there were other, much more accomplished females (such as Lynne Abraham, Beth Grossman, Midge Rendell, and Risa Vetri Ferman) who could have filled the office made me angry.
So now that Kane has come to the end of her appeals and could no longer avoid the clang of the jailhouse door, I'm filled with a variety of emotions. In many ways, the closure is satisfying. After years of wondering if the former attorney general would get off on a technicality, it gives me some measure of hope in the criminal justice system that she won't.
Then there is the sadness that comes from knowing I won't have her to kick around anymore on my keyboard. How much trouble can she get into while hammering out license plates?
And then there is the sinking knowledge that while she and her "woe is me" fractured fairy tale is over, there are a lot more stories to be told and a lot more "he done me wrong" songs to be sung. In fact, Kane was the canary in the coal mine who announced the era of #MeToo, where women would turn victimization into an art form and ride it all the way into political office. We saw what happened with the midterms as women used identity politics to turn grievance into votes. It worked.