Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018
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Wynne Everett

All forgiven after O’Neill’s sexist Facebook gaffe?

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    Ohio Supreme Court Justice and Democratic candidate for governor Bill O’Neill drew criticism for a Facebook post detailing his sexual conquests.

    Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch

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    Wynne Everett

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Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill wants his bid for governor to be about his plan to legalize marijuana, or maybe his quest to be a thorn in the side of the state Democratic party, whom he has labeled as losers.

He should quit fooling himself because the only thing most people know about his candidacy is that last November he stunned observers and former love interests alike with a bizarre Facebook post in defense of Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and other “heterosexual males” accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo age. He went on to brag in cringe-worthy detail that he had had intimate relations with “approximately 50 very attractive females.”

EDITORIAL: Bring on the DeWine/Taylor debate

No one in Ohio will ever be able to look at an innocent hayloft the same way again.

When Mr. O’Neill was asked about his infamous post during Wednesday’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates’ debate in Toledo, he shrugged off the incident.

He had apologized, he said, and so nothing more needed to be made of it.

A couple of his fellow Democrats — Dennis Kucinich and Joe Schiavoni — backed him up. The man made a mistake, he apologized, and we should let it go, they said. Only Richard Cordray called it out for what it was, “disgusting and inexcusable.”

As a panelist asking questions that night, I sat there thinking, “Hmmmm, I don’t exactly recall it the way three-quarters of these guys do.”

So I went back through coverage of the incident and found that there’s a reason I didn’t remember an apology. It took him three disturbing posts in as many days to stumble into one.

After reaction to his initial post ranged from outrage to concern that his Facebook page had been hacked, Mr. O’Neill amended his post. In the edited version, Mr. O’Neill thankfully removed the identifying personal details about some of his conquests, but he did not apologise so much as double down on his original sentiment.

He called his critics “sanctimonious judges” and told them to “lighten up.”

When that only added fuel to the dumpster fire of his gubernatorial chances, Mr. O’Neill amended the post a second time to include one those famous non-apology apologies that politicians have made famous:

“If I offended anyone, particularly the wonderful women in my life, I apologize.”

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Another day went by before Mr. O’Neill tried revising for a third time. This attempt, posted on a Sunday morning, made mention of heading to church to “get right with God” and acknowledged that his earlier rants had done real damage to the serious national conversation about sexual harassment and rape. He later said he had apologized after his two daughters and two sisters told him to do so.

“I’m an old guy,” he said Wednesday. “I learned a lot about the internet that day.”

Maybe, but not as much as voters learned about you, Mr. O’Neill.

Wynne Everett is an associate editor for The Blade. Contact her at weverett@theblade.com419-724-6467, or on Twitter @WynneEverett.

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