Every time I see a story about Kathleen Kane, I can’t help but think that this is what happens when the "give-kids-self-esteem-movement" crashes into the Disney Princess heroine syndrome. It is a toxic combination in an individual who is long on self-admiration and short on accomplishments. This has been the hallmark of Pennsylvania’s politically ambitious Attorney General’s tenure.
Kane forced her way into the national spotlight last month by breathless announcing she could not possibly defend certain Pennsylvania laws because she found them to be "unconstitutional". Of course, the laws she is referring to involve gay marriage. Or in her exact words: "I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s version of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) as I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional." Can’t "ethically" defend? Does Kane on occasion unethically defend laws? Shouldn’t it be a given that the attorney general, regardless of his or her views on gay marriage always has a code of ethics which they practice? And "wholly unconstitutional," as opposed to partially unconstitutional"? Can a law be just a little, itty bitty, teensy weeny bit unconstitutional? Would Kane defend it then? Isn’t that like being a little bit pregnant? So ridiculous was Kane’s reasoning, and so fundamentally lacking, even some liberal editorial boards that tend to openly support more social liberal policies criticized her for that stance.
But, for Kane, it’s more than a stance. As a rather astute political columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer wryly noted Kane stage-managed her gay marriage announcement before a cheering crowd at the National Constitution Center, and earned major mainstream media left wing worship for it. But it was all about ethics and constitutionality, right? Further, who paid the bill for her mileage to and from the Constitution Center in Philadelphia and for the cost to rent the space? Is that a good "ethical" use of taxpayer dollars?
But let’s not kid ourselves this isn’t about ethics, constitutionality or about helping anyone in Pennsylvania whom Kane is supposed to serve. This isn’t even about gay marriage. Kane is about one thing and one thing only: herself. As Drexel University political science professor William Rosenberg told the Washington Post, Kane’s move on gay marriage was political and part of her future political ambition. Said Rosenberg: "As a female Democrat, she probably would much rather have a conservative, male governor portrayed as the barrier to marriage equality." Swell! As the state’s top law enforcement official and first woman elected to the post, it’s just wonderful to see Kane head down this primrose path in a blaze of self-promotion and pettiness! That will sure help the stereotypes against women in Harrisburg! Thanks a million, Kathleen!
And of course, Kane’s gay marriage splash was just a curtain call for her little media dance and swirl over the privatization of the lottery system. Kane held another personal media fawn-fest to announce that that she was rejecting the state lottery privatization plan because, according to her, the governor didn’t consult the legislature. Really? She needed a press conference to announce this? A women who campaigned on being a "prosecutor and not a politician" and spent a large amount of time highlighting her prosecution of sex crime cases then decides to splash down into Pennsylvania politics with an internal bureaucratic dispute that many find trivial and silly?
But if you’re Kane, that’s the whole point. Kane is suffering the Disney Princess Syndrome. She sees herself as the heroine of her own self-made and self-perpetuated media fairy tale. Whether she’s boo hoo-ing to her sisters at the pro-abortion political action committee EMILY’s List about the difficulties of politics (everybody’s so mean!), slyly accusing Corbett of mismanaging the sexual abuse case at Penn State while never bringing forth any proof or in a gag worthy, sugar-shock-inducing press conference, winking and giggling at the media as she tries to not NOT denying she is running for Governor.
Kane has clear build up in her mind an image and a brand to continue to be perpetuated and burnished even thought her accomplishments as Attorney General have yielded far more press conferences then results. This type of narcissism typifies the generation of people who rack up trophies for participation but can still look in the mirror and see heroic princesses staring back. A female Pennsylvania governor would be great one day, but one of substance and not just one full of self-esteem and self-promotion.
Jennifer Stefano is political activist, commentator and radio host on WNTP 990am in Philadelphia. She is a regular commentator on Lincoln Radio Journal. She likes Disney Princesses, but only in the movies. You can contact her at @stefanospeaks.