Unilateral Disarmament? McCarthyism?

Trump Maladministration

I have major misgivings about the calls for Al Franken to resign from the Senate, but if he does, I will demand that the Democrats go on an aggressive and merciless offense against Republicans on the sexual harassment/assault issue. The Dems will be able to offer a contrast between themselves and the Republicans: We take this issue seriously while they protect rapists and pedophiles!

Otherwise we will have lost a good senator for nothing.

Because, you know, if Democrats resign for this — and I agree John Conyers needed to go — and Republicans don’t, the GOP will hold that up as proof that Democrats are perverts. Even now Mitch McConnell is calling on Franken to resign while his party supports Roy Moore and makes excuses for Donald Trump. And they’ll get away with that if the Democrats don’t step up.

The public mind is a lazy mind. A long time ago I read that people who talk a lot about morality are perceived as being moral even when they aren’t. And now Republicans seem to be coasting on the argument that they aren’t guilty of anything because they haven’t admitted to being guilty.  And if the Democrats don’t shout over them, they’ll get away with that.

Stuff to read, pro and con:

Al Franken, the latest casualty of the ‘Weinstein’ effect, now a victim of sexual McCarthyism

I Believe Franken’s Accusers Because He Groped Me, Too

Update: See Paul Waldman, The depressing lesson of political sex scandals

When it comes to sex scandals, the politicians who are the most guilty and the least repentant are the ones who survive.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is expected to announce his resignation on Thursday, after two moreallegations of inappropriate sexual behavior were published on Wednesday and most of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate called for him to step down. If that is indeed what happens, it will be a turn of events that is at once rare — senators very seldom voluntarily give up their seats for any reason, let alone for allegations that haven’t been proven in court — and unsurprising, if you understand how scandals like this usually proceed.

That’s because Franken was contrite and apologetic when the allegations first emerged. While he said in general terms that he didn’t remember events in the same way his accusers did, he didn’t attack them or call them liars, and he pledged to do better. When a politician reacts that way, there’s a good chance he’s on his way out.

And who survives this kind of scandal? The ones that are the least repentant — and often, the most guilty.

Also, I understand that Franken did just resign.

Share Button


  1. goatherd  •  Dec 7, 2017 @1:31 pm

    Short, but to the point.   

    I am truly sorry to see this happen, Franken was one of my favorites.  I had trouble believing the stories, because I thought he was above that kind of behavior, and I admired his intellect.

    On the bright side,  maybe a woman will replace him.

  2. csm  •  Dec 7, 2017 @2:03 pm

    “I will demand that the Democrats go on an aggressive and merciless offense against Republicans on the sexual harassment/assault issue. The Dems will be able to offer a contrast between themselves and the Republicans: We take this issue seriously while they protect rapists and pedophiles!”

    I agree 100%.  But knowing these democrats as we do, now that Franken has resigned, I am not holding my breath that they will.

    I believe the democrats calls for Franken to resign was in part an attempt to gain moral  inoculation they tend to think gives them a political advantage over the GOP that never seems to materialize when play this card.  Dem “leaders” will proffer that aggressively going after Moore and Trump on abuse isn’t happening because “now is not the time for partisanship” and the public will “get them” and magically act accordingly, reward them for throwing Franken under the bus (even if deservedly so) and turn on the GOP.

    But the reality is democrats are “too nice,” (a gentler way of saying cowardly) but more than that, they’re always thinking of the potential of alienating some group or voters who’d never support them anyway rather than to find the balls to do what’s necessary to drive the point home in a politically advantageous way.

    Now that Franken has resigned straightaway, foregoing an ethics investigation that would at least have allowed the public to determine for itself whether some of the charges may not have had any credibility, as Franken has said, rest assured that his resignation, forced by his democratic peers, will have zero effect on the morals of the GOP and its supporters to hold Moore and the abuser in chief Trump accountable for far worse misdeeds.  Meanwhile, dems claims of moral superiority as a result will gain them nothing.

  3. KC  •  Dec 7, 2017 @2:48 pm

    csm, I fear you are right.  None of the Republicans I know care about this issue, at least in the way most Democrats and progressives do.  And we have clear unassaible evidence that Republicans will use hazy, if not false, allegations against Democrats—look at Paula Jones (her attorney was Kellyanne Conway’s husband, mark the irony) Linda Tripp, and Bill Clinton.  Personally, I am deeply uncomfortable with what has happened and I hope I am wrong to be. 

  4. Bruce Kaplan  •  Dec 7, 2017 @3:25 pm

    once again the dems will have a winning hand and blow it

  5. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Dec 7, 2017 @8:18 pm

    I don't like it. Look: an assgrab or stolen kiss is wrong, and inexcusable, and merits a punch in the face – I wish he'd been given a hammer blow to the bridge of the nose (one of the) first time(s) it happened, so he realized this *really matters*, it wasn't just a prank that ended there. Or, I wish one of these woman had called him on the phone and explained, quietly but firmly that this was not okay, and Franken checked with a female friend who backed her up, so he was ashamed and aware not to do this.

    I do shamanism – spirit work – and you might believe it's BS, but, the notion that there's a demon to fight (or, to welcome in) makes a good model for this. A lot of teenaged boys are going to have that demon looking for an opening, and it needs to be exorcised.

    It doesn't have to be an actual *demon*, you see. It just has to be a common temptation, one that must be overcome, by awareness and determination to be a non-(expletive). And the realization that it's a common temptation, one that can be rewarding, means you can be a bit more forgiving of someone who's fought it off.

    I think Al Franken matured, and became aware that some of his "pranks" weren't funny, and were, in fact, painful memories to women, memories that *he* caused, and that he now wishes like hell he could get a redo, and not be an ass this time. I hope so! And I hope that if he's in a photo lineup, and every woman whose ass is in reach of his arms gives him a meaningful look, he realizes it's nothing less than he deserves, even though he *has* changed. You can't erase that history; you can't erase those memories; your friends will realize you've given it up, but the world is a lot more than "your friends".

    But I don't think this merits resignation. I kind of hope that if a Minnesota Senate seat opens, he runs in the primary. We deserve him in the Senate. The Republicans get to use "the voters gave their judgement" so why shouldn't we, in circumstances in which the ending of a political career really *isn't* the appropriate penalty?

  6. onkelbob  •  Dec 7, 2017 @8:49 pm

    @goatherd On the bright side,  maybe a woman will replace him.

    Yeah, maybe we can get another war criminal like Feinstein, or a corporate lackey like Harris.  Hmmm… Good times.

    @Bruce Kaplan once again the dems will have a winning hand and blow it

     The Burnside maneuver, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!

    I am guilty of believing that both political parties are infested with gangsters.  I believe that both parties should be charged under RICO statutes, tried in federal court, and if found guilty, subjected to the stiffest penalties allowed.  While I do not believe that every member of the respective caucuses are criminals, nor do I believe they all should be tied to the bumpers of Oldsmobiles and dragged down gravel roads, it is on days such as this one, that I can't help believing that a twofer of Chuck and Mitch, slathered with peanut butter and thrown into a cage with a hungry grizzly bear, would go a long way to making the day and the world that much better.

  7. Waspuppet  •  Dec 8, 2017 @6:18 am

    I am indeed worried about this. I think the Dems who called on Franken to resign are banking on a wave of women’s anger and power to rise up and continue. And if it does, great – even if some Democrats get swept away by it, we’ll be better off. But we have a year for Our Media Stars to Both Sides this before the midterms, and we’re barely a year removed from 53 percent of white women voting for Donald Fking Trump. So I dunno. 

  8. KC  •  Dec 8, 2017 @1:52 pm

    Waspuppet, exactly. What’s more, rather than looking brave and upright, the feeling I am getting from a lot of people, friends and work colleagues, is that this episode looks craven and opportunistic.  I think it just goes to the core of who we are, that evidence as much as anonymous accusations should be assessed to the extent it can be before we ascribe guilt. The fact is women lie too, about a variety of things, for multiple and varying reasons, just as much as men. This does not excuse bad behavior by men at all, and the ugly history of it, but it does recommend caution at times and some discernment.  My work has a neutral party investigate allegations of harassment in the workplace, Franken wasn’t even afforded this before being drummed out by his colleagues. It looks bad. 

  9. onkelbob  •  Dec 8, 2017 @5:43 pm

    And another thing… As best we can tell, MLK and JFK were not exactly choirboys when it came to marital fidelity.  And yet, despite these failings, these men were able to overcome them and inspire a nation to behave better and to move forward in civil rights.

    I dislike the way our polity has become infected with this single issue mentality.  I want honor and integrity in my leaders, courage and wisdom too; but perfection is an unattainable target.  Making the perfect the enemy of the good is how we ended up here.

    (And HRC was not good, so the election wasn't a case of good vs. bad, it was bad vs. extremely bad.  Unfortunately extremely bad has a certain appeal to a section of the population.)

  10. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Dec 9, 2017 @10:31 pm

    Having just read the stories of his accusers, and his defense, I'm now even more sure that this didn't merit resignation.

    The accusations amounted to two forced kisses (yes, with tongue, I'm not trying to downplay that) and multiple "he grabbed my butt during a photo lineup," except one says he grabbed a handful of her waist.

    His excuse is that he's "huggy" and, I see one of two things happening.

    First, most likely (because he's a guy, and guys fall into this trap easily), he's convinced himself that he's just hugging from the hip, knowing full well he gets a good feel across the butt, but he's lying to himself, saying it's just friendly. This is why I like the model of "possession" or how Christians would view temptations from Satan… it says "this is wrong, and it's his wrong, but it's not essential to his being. He needs to fight this off with brutal self-honesty." But it doesn't make him a predator of the same sort as others we've seen.

    Second, he could be trying to grab for the waist, and going too low. I won't deny this possibility, but it's the sort of thing a grown man with any age and wisdom should realize is a feeble excuse.. no woman who feels he was grabbing for her butt should accept it. This is why I consider the first more likely.

    Now, that said: when I was young, I was terrified of going too far/too fast (on a date, mind you! Not during a photo shoot!) and frustrated because women talked about how it's *not* okay if you insist it was all a mistake/misunderstanding. If not for an encounter with a serial harasser, I would never have realized that it's *always* (said to be) a mistake/misunderstanding with them, and why "mistake" wasn't good enough.

    Which is to say: even if it was an honest mistake, a fellow should realize that *she doesn't know*. From her perspective, it was an assault, and, alas, predators make things harder for the awkward. If a person is making mistakes, and doesn't want to, the mistake should be learned from, as best as possible. 

    Now: if a guy keeps "accidentally" or "accidentally on purpose" feeling women's butts in photo lineups, that's not okay, acceptable, etc.. He owes a lot of apologies, and a lot of understanding if they aren't accepted, *and* a change in his behavior – arms around the shoulder is a plenty friendly hug! But he doesn't owe resignation. (All MHO, and based upon my knowledge of the situation at this time.)