Patently, Al Franken is not fit to be a United States senator. That is not a close call, certainly not if we judge Franken in accordance with threats by lawmakers to expel Roy Moore if he is elected. Of course, if Moore makes it to a Senate swearing-in, it will be because the citizens of Alabama, fully aware of claims of egregious abuse of women, voted him into office anyway. In Franken’s case, the voters will not have endorsed him and his abusive conduct is not merely “claimed” — it is readily provable.
I was not a Moore fan even before the sex-abuse claims. Obviously, I’d like to see him step away. Failing that, I’d like to see Republicans find a legal way to shove him aside. If he is elected in a vote that is effectively a referendum on his fitness, however, it would be very difficult to find 66 Senate votes to deny him his seat. This referendum dynamic affects President Trump, too. Understandably, Democrats and anti-Trump commentators ask why the new consciousness about sexual abuse has not resulted in an “Impeach Trump” groundswell. Putting aside that removal of a president would be a shattering national experience, the notorious Access Hollywood video was a focus of the presidential campaign’s last month. The voters elected Trump anyway — a result that was more an indictment of his opponent than an endorsement of him.