NYT Op-Ed: Maybe Franken Shouldn't Have Resigned

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Posted: Dec 15, 2017 7:00 PM
NYT Op-Ed: Maybe Franken Shouldn't Have Resigned

Activist Zephyr Teachout, who ran for governor in 2014 and Congress in 2016; she lost both times, is troubled by Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) resignation. Mind you, the Minnesota Democrat has not packed up his bags and left. He said he would resign in the near future. It was one of the most soporific and non-introspective resignation speeches—and it wasn’t just conservatives who noted this. Some journalists noted that Franken never apologized for his actions. True. He also called his accusers liars, which is also true. The man didn’t want to go, possibly because he thought his party affiliation could save him, as it did with William Jefferson Clinton. If Democrats want to wonder why it took almost a month for a groundswell of Democrats to ask for Stuart Smalley to get the hell out of town, well look no further that the party’s rape culture tolerance that occurred in the 1990s.

Franken has been accused by at least eight women of groping them, some include being forcibly kissed. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who actually paid $27,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim in 2015, has already left in disgrace. Oh, that that’s our money that they used to sweep this under the rug. So, what’s Teachout’s issue? It’s not your typical circle the wagon around Franken because he’s a liberal Democrat, though undoubtedly that may factor into this, it’s because he didn’t get due process. Yeah—you heard that right (via NYT):

I care passionately about #MeToo. Women are routinely demeaned, dismissed, discouraged and assaulted. Too many women’s careers are stymied or ended because of harassment and abuse. In politics, where I have worked much of my adult life, this behavior is rampant.

I also believe in zero tolerance. And yet, a lot of women I know — myself included — were left with a sense that something went wrong last week with the effective ouster of Al Franken from the United States Senate. He resigned after a groundswell of his own Democratic colleagues called for him to step down.

Zero tolerance should go hand in hand with two other things: due process and proportionality. As citizens, we need a way to make sense of accusations that does not depend only on what we read or see in the news or on social media.

Due process means a fair, full investigation, with a chance for the accused to respond. And proportionality means that while all forms of inappropriate sexual behavior should be addressed, the response should be based on the nature of the transgressions.

Both were missing in the hasty call for Senator Franken’s resignation. Some might point out, rightly, that Congress doesn’t have good procedures for dealing with harassment accusations. In fact, the congressional process to date has gone something like this: Lift up the rug and sweep the accusations underneath. It’s delay, deny, pay hush money and avoid the consequences.

Of course, due process should be applied. Yes, Congress has a shoddy system of dealing with these issues. And yes, the creeps have to go. There should be zero tolerance of such behavior. Proportionality is something that will come from this as well, but let’s cut through the bull here. I’m going to take Ms. Teachout at her word, but it seems she misses the obvious political goal with Conyers and Franken’s ouster: it wasn’t meant to create a culture of accountability; it was done so they could attack Republicans again. For a month, their attacks on Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate who had some serious allegations of sexual misconduct with women who were teenagers at the time, fell flat. Why? Well, some on the Left started to come to terms with their side’s bad behavior on this issue, namely defending Bill Clinton. The reckoning is not one-sided. There are plenty of Republicans who have behaved badly. But this Franken push was done, so the Left could redirect their attacks on Moore and eventually the president. That’s their grand prize. Donald Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct. It’s hard to direct an attack campaign when some in your ranks have misbehaved. Conyers facilitated the Franken extraction. So, while all of these things are rather apolitical and in the realm of what’s reasonable and just, I think it’s incredibly naïve to think that Democrats are doing this because they had a come to Jesus moment on sexual harassment/assault. For the Left, it’s not about the victims, the truth, or the cause of justice; it’s all about maintaining a narrative. This was all done so that Democrats could have a clean slate from which they could attack the Trump White House. Spare me the pious speeches about changing the culture. They just want Trump to be impeached. So, while Teachout’s points are fine, they’re going to be casualties of politics.   

Also, on a side note, the Left is now all about due process now. That’s rich