This is the same guy, notes the Free Beacon, who lamented less than a month ago that he’d been “too tough” on Bill Clinton during his intern-diddling episode. He’s also written admiring biographies of more than one Kennedy, so when Matthews lectures on purity you best sit up and listen.
Where things presently stand: Democrats have finally forced out John Conyers after, count ’em, 52 years in the House, with God only knows how much of that time spent harassing women staffers with the full knowledge of the leadership. They’ve also pressured Al Franken into kind of resigning, possibly pending the outcome of the Alabama special election. The youngest Democrat in Congress to be accused of sexual harassment, Ruben Kihuen, remains a member in good standing as of this writing. The “purity” is underwhelming except in contrast to a GOP that seems ever more inclined to wallow in sleaze. A fun subgenre among liberal op-ed writers today, in fact, is simultaneously congratulating the party for cracking down on Franken while also complaining about them cracking down on Franken. Masha Gessen:
In an eleven-minute speech, in which Franken announced his intention to resign from the Senate, he made this much clear: the force that is ending his political career is greater than the truth, and this force operates on only roughly half of this country’s population—those who voted for Hillary Clinton and who consume what we still refer to as mainstream media…
The case of Franken makes it all that much more clear that this conversation is, in fact, about sex, not about power, violence, or illegal acts. The accusations against him, which involve groping and forcible kissing, arguably fall into the emergent, undefined, and most likely undefinable category of “sexual misconduct.” Put more simply, Franken stands accused of acting repeatedly like a jerk, and he denies that he acted this way. The entire sequence of events, from the initial accusations to Franken’s resignation, is based on the premise that Americans, as a society, or at least half of a society, should be policing non-criminal behavior related to sex.
“Enough is enough,” Gillibrand said. “When we start having to talk about the differences between sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted groping, we are having the wrong conversation. We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is okay, none of it is acceptable.”
I agree: None of it is acceptable. What gives me pause is both the rush to judgment and the one-size-fits-all nature of the punishment, given, as Gillibrand acknowledged, the significant difference in seriousness between the Franken allegations and those against Trump and Moore.
At WaPo, Paul Waldman doesn’t cover for Franken but he does proclaim that “Franken’s resignation shows that only one of our two great parties has any integrity.” Suggestion: Since there are, allegedly, literally dozens of congressmen in the media’s crosshairs for sexual misconduct, maybe wait a week before anointing Ted Kennedy’s party the Great Woke Hope. Conyers and Franken were pushed out because they had the misfortune of being accused first and couldn’t hide in a crowd. They won’t be the last, and as the crowd grows, both parties will come to the grim realization that they simply can’t afford to purge all of the malefactors given the sheer numbers that might involve. The solution will be perfunctory calls on accused members to resign followed by shrugs when they refuse that voters will hold the bad guys accountable next fall. And then, when most of those bad guys are reelected, the spin will be that “the people have spoken,” just as it will be for Roy Moore five days from now.
If you want to cry for Franken, that’s the best reason. He was brought down by a stroke of bad luck in timing. If he had been the third or eighth or 20th Democrat exposed, most Dems would have waved off his offenses as small potatoes compared to what the others are accused of.