The “Eve” Excuse Is Back

The “Eve” Excuse Is Back May 21, 2024

The “Eve” Excuse Is Back

Forbidden Fruit and Eve
Photo by Jill Burrow

The biblical story of Adam and Eve never loses its allure. When Adam takes the forbidden fruit from Eve and eats it, God calls Adam to account. The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?”

The “Eve Excuse” has been in our politics at least twice recently. Senator Robert Menendez and Justice Samuel Alito have reached into the rhetorical bag of “ancient excuses to avoid accountability” to each blame his wife for his misdeeds.

Senator Bob Menendez


A lawyer for Senator Robert Menendez laid blame for the bribery charges the senator faces squarely on his wife — a woman he found “dazzling” but who, his lawyer said, hid her past dire finances and the source of her newfound income from her powerful husband.

She had kept him in the dark about “what she was asking others to give her,” the lawyer, Avi Weitzman, told a jury in opening statements at the start of the senator’s federal corruption trial in Manhattan.

The gold and some of the cash that the F.B.I. found in a search of the senator’s New Jersey home — items that prosecutors say were bribes — were kept in a locked closet where his wife, Nadine Menendez, stored her clothing, Mr. Weitzman said.

“He did not know of the gold bars that existed in that closet,” Mr. Weitzman added, describing Mr. Menendez as an American patriot and “lifelong public servant” who “took no bribes.”

Prosecutors have charged Mr. Menendez, 70, and his wife with accepting gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, including cash, gold, home furnishings and a $60,000 Mercedes, in exchange for political favors for friends at home and the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

It is the second bribery trial of Mr. Menendez, a Democrat who has long been dogged by allegations of corruption. He walked away largely unscathed from the first, which ended in a hung jury in 2017 in New Jersey. But the new charges, leveled in September by a federal grand jury in Manhattan, are likely to end the senator’s three-decade career in Congress.

The senator’s defense: “My wife hid the gold from me.”

In the second example, Supreme Court Justice Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito blamed the upside-down American flag seen flying outside his home in the days following the Jan. 6 Capitol protests, on his wife. According to the justice, his wife displayed it in response to insults directed at her from a neighbor.

Alito weighed in after The New York Times reported on the story, that an upside-down flag — a symbol adopted by some Trump supporters disputing the results of the 2020 presidential election — appeared outside Alito’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, on Jan. 17, 2021.

Alito said the saga in his neighborhood began in the days around Jan. 6, 2021, when a neighbor living down the street put up a sign that read “F— Trump” about 50 feet away from a children’s bus stop.

He said his wife, Martha-Ann, then spoke with those neighbors about the sign and the conversation was not well received.

This isn’t about truth or reason at all – it’s about not being held accountable for actions deserving of accountability. Alito claiming, “Our neighbor started it,” is an interestingly irrational argument. When Alito was confronted for posting the symbol of the January 6 insurrection – an upside-down flag, he pointed to the neighbor and said, “He did it first.”

Alito’s point is factually true, but his point is completely irrelevant to whether he did something wrong. It does not matter if the neighbor plastered his property with signs demeaning Trump or attacking Alito, but that’s irrelevant to whether Justice Alito did something wrong.

Both the neighbor and Alito can be wrong. The neighbor is vulgar and disrespectful, but in our current malaise, such words are common garden variety bags of nothing. Alito makes a political statement supporting the actions of January 6. As a member of the Supreme Court, he has cast votes concerning the treatment of the people already convicted of federal crimes for their actions of January 6.

“My neighbor started it,” “My neighbor did it first,” or “My neighbor did it, too” doesn’t have anything at all to do with Alito’s action or inaction.

“The woman you gave me made me eat.” “My wife took the gold.” “My wife placed the upside-down flag because our neighbor posted an anti-Trump sign.” These excuses all come from the same barrel of rotten excuses.

A political system living off excuses, lies, and misinformation can’t long survive.


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