I have no deep thoughts for you on this. I just want to share my amusement at one of the most cynical people in the Senate being caught in the middle of a big left-wing scrum over whether good progressive men should get a little more benefit of the doubt when it comes to grabbing asses and unwanted frenching.
Woke liberals say no. #MeToo exists for a reason. Gillibrand was right to demand zero tolerance and use her influence to pressure Franken into resigning.
Whereas ultra-woke liberals say: You don’t frag a good soldier for The Cause. If Republicans can look the other way at Roy Moore, Democrats can certainly insist on a little due process for a guy who’d vote for single-payer.
Imagine if Gillibrand and Sherrod Brown somehow end up as the last two candidates standing in the primary. It’ll be a battle between liberals who don’t take #MeToo issues seriously enough and those who take #MeToo issues, er, too seriously.
“He was one of our best weapons against this administration, his presence on these committees. [Gillibrand] did the damage that Republicans could not do themselves,” one of the attendees [at a recent San Francisco party attended by Franken] told POLITICO. “There were other people at this event who were saying the same thing. They said, ‘Absolutely, I will never do anything for her.’”…
More than a dozen prominent West Coast, New York and national donors and bundlers — many of them women — said they would never again donate to or fundraise for Gillibrand or would only do so if she ended up as the Democratic presidential nominee…
“I could stay on the phone all afternoon talking about this,” said a Manhattan-based member of the ‘Majority Trust’ of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, an elite group of top donors, who has donated to Gillibrand in the past. “Let me tell you how strongly I felt about it — I didn’t even vote for her in the recent election. I left it blank.”…
“I thought she was duplicitous,” [a Manhattan-based] donor said. “Once the whole thing happened with Al Franken, it was confirmed 1 billion percent that she’s not to be trusted. I think that she hurt the Democratic Party. I think that she hurt the Senate. I think that what she did for women in politics was dreadful.”
I wonder if the heat would be turned up this high on Gillibrand if the Kavanaugh wars hadn’t happened. It was one thing to blow up Senator Al at the height of the #MeToo moment last year, with the Alabama special election and the accusations against Moore as a backdrop. Gillibrand made a calculated gamble: By knifing Franken and calling for his resignation, she could assert herself as the boldest feminist in the coming 2020 field with few repercussions for her party. After all, Franken’s seat in Minnesota would certainly remain in Democratic hands, and ideally the contrast between Democrats policing their own in the Senate and Republicans making excuses for Moore would end up helping Doug Jones in Alabama.
It all worked out. Jones won and Franken’s seat did indeed remain blue. In fact, notes Dave Weigel, his successor won with a larger margin and with more total votes on Election Day earlier this month than Franken ever received. If that’s all that had happened in the year since Franken was pushed out, Franken fanboys would be annoyed with Gillibrand but at least there’d be no obvious partisan double standards to really embitter them.
But Kavanaugh happened. Christine Blasey Ford came forward, followed by Deborah Ramirez. (If you find Avenatti-approved Julie Swetnick credible, include her here too.) The nominee deserves due process, Republicans howled — and it paid off with a Supreme Court seat. Whereas Franken was shoved towards the exit by Gillibrand and others without so much as a committee hearing into the accusations against him. No witness testimony, no consideration of penalties like censure short of expulsion. He had to be sacrificed to show that the Democratic Party “believes all women” or whatever. Even though they palpably don’t.
You can try to distinguish the two cases. Franken had no fewer than eight accusers, four of whom were named and none of whom alleged anything so outlandish as to make them seem dubious like Swetnick did. At a certain number, you might argue, the burden of proof shifts. But you know what Franken-ites will say: He never got a chance to meet that burden of proof in a formal setting. Gillibrand and other Democratic women were too eager to make an example of him before the Senate Ethics Committee got to work. And although Franken had more accusers than Kavanaugh did, all of them consistent in alleging a pattern of behavior, it’s also true that nothing Franken was accused of was as grievous as what Kavanaugh was charged with by Ford.
In the end, though, Gillibrand may have done her party a favor. Getting Franken to quit was the quickest, cleanest way for the matter to end for Democrats. If the same pressure hadn’t been applied, Franken might have fought on and forced his colleagues to take a formal stance on his guilt. How would Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and other 2020 hopefuls have handled it if Franken’s accusers had all testified and all seemed credible? Who among them wants to be the liberal to cast a vote that says serial ass-grabbing, while inappropriate, just isn’t serious enough to justify expulsion from the Senate? That’s a defensible position — but not one the Party Of Women would be eager to defend.
Oh, by the way: In case you’ve forgotten, Gillibrand is an egregious hypocrite about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior towards women among the Democratic politicians she knows. She might be reminded of that in the primary, I think.