WaPo Columnist: Franken Resigning Could Be Bad For Women

Posted: Dec 11, 2017 3:23 PM
WaPo Columnist: Franken Resigning Could Be Bad For Women

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) is going to resign…in the coming weeks. The Left is trying to reclaim the high ground (was there any?) with this move. Franken is expendable. His replacement will be a Democrat and in the meantime, they can redirect pressure on President Trump and the Republicans. Right now, the high target is Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, who has serious allegations of sexual molestation and assault against him. His alleged victims are teenage girls. What comes of that depends on how Moore does tomorrow in Alabama’s special election. While the polls in that race are all over the place, Roy Moore could very well win.

Yet, back to the Frankenstein fallout, eight women accused him of sexual harassment; there’s photographic evidence for one of the accusers. He took to the Senate floor, didn’t apologize, and called his accusers liars. Now, that he’s gone, some on the Left are worried that his exit could be bad for women. The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus noted that his exit could be bad for women. She said we could be seeing the excess of this sexual harassment reckoning with Franken’s resignation, adding there should be zero tolerance for such lewd behavior, but does every incident deserve the political death penalty. Marcus made these points on MSNBC last Thursday. She was on a panel with host Andrea Mitchell. Newsbusters clipped the exchange:

Clearly inspired by veteran NBC journalist Tom Brokaw’s sermon warning of the dangers of “rushing to judgement” on the over half-dozen different charges of sexual harassment against Democratic Senator Al Franken, both Andrea Mitchell and Washington Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor Ruth Marcus rode to the rescue to back him up.


MITCHELL: Indeed, and Ruth Marcus is here. Ruth, you have written and thought about all of these issues very deeply. Al Franken was even being discussed as a potential 2020 candidate. His best-selling book had come out. He was, really, in the, you know, the prime of his political life …

MARCUS: We are in the middle of this revolution, and in every revolution there are moments of excess. And I have some real serious concerns about whether this is one of them here. Representative Conyers, Senator Franken, they dealt with them.

So for Democrats, in terms of short-term political benefit, this is a good outcome. For Senator Franken, for justice, and in some way, maybe for women, I'm not so confident that this is a good outcome. Because, I mean -- Tom raised the question of what do we d- -- he doesn't have as much process as a dope-peddler. We have a sitting United States senator, Senator Menendez, who is under indictment, who’s been in a criminal trial, who may be retried. He is going to get the benefit of the ethics process, a benefit that Senator Franken is not getting. And I still think we are just tip-toeing our way through this minefield here, trying to sort out what the proper response is. We say “zero tolerance.” Does that mean that every act deserves the death penalty? Which was what we saw for Senator Franken here, is the political death penalty.

Now, there is a point to be made that there could be excess going on here. Is a remark the same as someone physically assaulting you? For Franken, he’s been accused of forcibly kissing and groping women; this isn’t Howard Stern-like talk around the water cooler that makes people uncomfortable. And yes, some things can kill your employment. Former Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) asked a staffer to be a surrogate mother and offered $5 million in compensation; the staffers feared the former congressman intended to have sex. Will lines be drawn? Maybe, but why is this bad for women? Is the media in some way doubting the veracity of Franken’s accusers? Is it because he’s a liberal Democrat who votes the right way? It could be a little bit of both. After all, the high profile stories of sexual harassment that have been reported deserve resignation or termination of the accused. Some of them have even admitted to their gross misdeeds. On a side note, I’m so glad the Left has discovered the value of due process in these matters, something that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has emphasized in her Title IX changes, which were interpreted as rape shields by the progressive crowd. No so much fun when your side is caught behaving very, very badly, huh? As long as a Democrat occupies Franken’s seat, things will be fine for the Democratic Party in that regard. His colleagues only axed him when they figured out he was something worth losing due to the political climate of his state. If anything, the bad thing for women is the tremendous theater the Left is showing on Capitol Hill that they actually care about holding their own people accountable for sexual misconduct. They just want to circle back at the GOP. They tried, and then some within their ranks brought up Democrats’ pass on Bill Clinton’s credible rape allegations that created this culture. That muddied the attacks.

In short, the rule was simple: if you’re liberal and commit egregious acts of sexual misconduct, you can stay because you vote the right way; Gloria Steinem and her feminist legions said so. Well, that reckoning has come—and Franken certainly thought he could survive in that respect. This was a man who didn’t want to go, but was forced into the guillotine. I think that is what’s bad for women, so-called allies who feign caring about this issue.