Former Clinton Staffer: Well, Franken's Sexual Assault Was Benign

Posted: Nov 17, 2017 5:45 PM
Former Clinton Staffer: Well, Franken's Sexual Assault Was Benign

Guy wrote about Kate Harding’s op-ed in The Washington Post, where she pretty much argues that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) shouldn’t resign because he’s a liberal Democrat. Franken was accused by radio host Leeann Tweeden for forcibly kissing and groping her during a 2006 USO tour through the Middle East. It’s established that sexual assault is sexual assault. There shouldn’t be a graduated scale with this charge in the sense of Democrats having one set of rules and Republicans having another. Then again, I understand—whom am I kidding? Of course, there are double standards between conservatives and liberals with these types of stories. With the rot of Hollywood’s rape problem leeching into other areas, as women come forward with stories of harassment that transcend political lines and industries, there seemed to be a consensus developing. No matter who does it; sexual harassment/assault is wrong and accountability and punishment should follow. It’s pretty simple. Then, comes Zerlina Maxwell, a former Hillary Clinton staffer, who appears to have disagreed, calling Franken’s actions “benign” when compared to Roy Moore, the embattled Alabama GOP candidate who has been accused of molesting and sexually assaulting teenage girls. Maxwell said this while being interviewed by MSNBC’s Craig Melvin (via NTK Network) [emphasis mine]:

Craig Melvin asked Maxwell if we should be talking about Bill Clinton right now amid all these sexual assault allegations.

“No, I don’t think we should talk about Bill Clinton. There were plenty of feminists at the time those allegations were happening that we’re having this conversation right now, but at the time, we weren’t really listening to feminists. We thought they were sort of outliers,” Maxwell said.


“I’m not giving him [Bill Clinton] a pass. I’m saying the reason we’re having this conversation about Bill Clinton and presidents is because the current president has been accused by over a dozen women of inappropriate sexual behavior,” Maxwell responded.

“I think, you know, we need to understand this in sort of a more comprehensive way. It’s a spectrum of behavior,” Maxwell continued. “On the one end of the spectrum, the more severe end, is the Harvey Weinstein’s of the world, Bill Cosby’s of the world, Roy Moore, right?”

“And at the other end of the spectrum, you have street harassment, and you have Al Franken, and you have more benign behaviors that are traumatizing to women but are not necessarily criminal,” Maxwell concluded.

You mean it’s only benign when Democrats do this. Of course, there’s a difference between what Franken did compared to the more violent actions of Harvey Weinstein, but a) it’s not benign; and b) doesn’t downgrade what the charge is here: sexual assault/harassment. Second, we shouldn't shocked that Maxwell stepped on a rake for the sake of salvaging a narrative. When the Rolling Stone’s story about “Jackie” and the sexual assault at the University of Virginia that never happened began to unravel, Maxwell was torched for penning an op-ed that all but said that due process should be thrown out the window:

We should believe, as a matter of default, what an accuser says. Ultimately, the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor far outweigh the costs of calling someone a rapist. Even if Jackie fabricated her account, U-Va. should have taken her word for it during the period while they endeavored to prove or disprove the accusation. This is not a legal argument about what standards we should use in the courts; it’s a moral one, about what happens outside the legal system.

Take what you will from that. In all, Maxwell, and others that came before her, tried to give Bill some cover, while mitigating sexual assault committed within their own tribe. It’s benign? I’m sure Ms. Tweeden would disagree.