UPDATE: Silver notes that Democrats could be underestimating the seriousness of these sexual harassment charges lobbed against Franken.
I think Democrats have underestimated how seriously voters are taking the Franken allegations and how hypocritical it makes them look. https://t.co/fw3xSIz59G— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) November 22, 2017
Yes, the Moore allegations are a LOT more serious. But that isn't necessarily all that relevant, because both the Moore and the Franken allegations may rise to the threshold of "firing offense" for voters.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) November 22, 2017
Well, if there’s one thing that Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight noticed in the aftermath of the sexual misconduct allegations that were lobbed against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), it’s that the Left has lost the moral high ground. Well, maybe that’s not fair. They didn’t fight so much as they “punted” on this question. Last week, Franken was accused by radio host Leeann Tweeden of forcibly kissing and groping her during a 2006 USO tour in the Middle East. Now, a second woman, Lindsay Menz, alleges that Franken grabbed her rear end in 2010 at the Minnesota State Fair. Silence ensued—and that’s not conservative media pointing that out; it’s the Associated Press:
With the Capitol empty due to Thanksgiving break, reaction to the latest allegation against Franken were muted compared to an outcry last week — and Democrats nationally and in Minnesota were silent.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, repeated a statement from Thursday calling for an ethics investigation of Franken. After publicly denouncing Franken’s conduct and supporting that investigation last week, no powerful Democrats had spoken out by Monday afternoon about Menz’s allegations.
Menz, 33, who now lives in Frisco, Texas, said her father’s business was sponsoring a radio booth at the Minnesota fair and that she took photos with several elected officials and political candidates as they stopped at the booth.
She said as she posed with Franken, he “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear,” Menz said. “It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek.”
Silver added that the Democrats might not want to push Franken out for a couple reasons. Yes, Minnesota is a safe Democratic seat. If Franken were to go, a Democrat would replace him; Minnesota has a Democratic governor. So, the calls for his ouster could intensify. Democrats looks good, showing themselves to be the lord protectors of all women, while forcing the GOP into an impossible situation messaging wise in Alabama. Yet, the long-term effects could be disastrous. For starters, it sets a precedent where blowback could occur. Silver adds what we’re seeing is the conservative, as in the traditional, old-fashioned meaning, institution of politics not wanting to push for things that could get friends and colleagues tossed from the Hill:
I thought the Democrats had an opportunity to maintain the moral high ground without having to pay a political price for it. They could keep the pressure up on Moore, who has put Republicans in a no-win situation in Alabama. And they could help to establish a precedent wherein severe instances of sexual harassment warrant resignation. In the long run, that might create more of a problem for Republicans than for Democrats, because the overwhelming majority of sexual harassment is conducted by men, and there are 265 Republican men in Congress compared with 164 Democratic ones.
Instead, Democrats basically punted on the question. Here’s what Schumer said, which echoes the statements made by many other Democrats
Almost all of these comments said that sexual harassment must be taken very, very seriously. But the remedy they propose for Franken — referring the allegations to the Senate ethics committee, a step that Republican leader Mitch McConnell, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Franken himself have also called for — isn’t particularly serious. Unless, that is, the committee process led to Franken’s expulsion. But there have been many ethics investigations and very few expulsions — none since 1862 — and none of the statements made by Schumer or the other leaders raised the possibility of expulsion.
Moreover, it’s not quite clear what behavior the ethics committee would actually be investigating: Franken hasn’t really denied Tweeden’s claim that he kissed her without her consent, and there’s already photographic evidence that appears to show he groped her. It’s possible the investigation could turn up evidence of similar incidents involving Franken and other women. But if Franken is a repeat offender — as so many sexual harassers are — that’s all the more reason for Democrats to want him out of office now instead of dragging the party through the mud.
Of course, what might be politically expedient for Democrats isn’t necessarily expedient for Schumer — or for McConnell, or for the White House, all of whom may be acting out of a sense of institutional self-preservation. If there’s a precedent that sexual harassment is grounds for removal or resignation from office, then a lot of members of Congress — including some of Schumer’s colleagues and friends — could have to resign once more allegations come to light, as they almost certainly will.
It’s a sad commentary. It’s a rather uncontroversial point that the creeps have to go, but we have a mixture of circling the wagons and victim shaming occurring. It seems ironically that the default Democratic position in these situations is to hunker down, just like in the Clinton era, which some feminists and liberals are beginning to see as a colossal lapse in moral judgment on their part. Then again, we’re seeing a replay of this movie. We have the media playing up the apology, how he was a comedian, he wasn’t in Congress etc. how is that exculpatory? First of all, Franken wasn’t just some comedian, as Mediaite’s Larry O’Connor pointed out he was a well-known radio host and activist when the Tweeden incident occurred.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s zero room for a defense of Roy Moore either. His behavior since the allegations were thrown his way has done little if anything to dispel their veracity. Attorney General Jeff Sessions even said that he has “no reason to doubt” Moore’s alleged victims.
For those who are shocked, well—this is Congress. It’s mostly a pit of snakes. There are no good guys, or at least in the battles we’re talking about. Hillary Clinton and the Democrats can’t really direct heat on Trump, which is what they’re lusting for, because some on the Left are admitting that Bill’s accusers were treated horrifically, and that the former president should have resigned after the Lewinsky fiasco. The Clintons aren't exactly a role model either in this department. There was no accountability with Bill; that’s why when Hillary talks about it, it’s total crap. With the GOP, we’re just stuck with Moore. The only reason to vote for him is because he’s a Republican. If you can do that, power to you—I don’t think many can stomach a significantly older man trying to grab dates with girls who have barely finished their freshman year of high school. It’s just inexcusable. The whole issue is inexcusable, but it’s the Left that’s drowning miserably as they try to save a narrative. The ‘War on Women’ line of attack from Democrats really didn’t age well, did it fellas?