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Franken, Moore, Gillibrand & The Whole Damned Thing


I’ve never used that word before. I’m not even sure I’m using it correctly. But at least it sounds like how I feel following the announcement by Al Franken that he will resign from the United States Senate.

As one of the commentators said immediately in the aftermath of his speech (was it a speech?), there is a good deal to unpack here. Much of the unpacking is so obvious it hardly warrants citing.

Of course it is ironic that Senator Franken is forced out by the majority of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate while Trump remains in office (and in the Oval Office at that) with every indication that the Republican Party views the more serious and more numerous allegations against Trump as having been adjudicated politically in the 2016 election.

Of course it is ironic that the very real possibility exists that Roy Moore may join the Senate if Alabama voters provide him with a political adjudication of allegations against him of sexual assault. Moore could be in place before Franken officially leaves office.

With Senator Franken gone as well as John Conyers, Jr., having resigned from the House, the Democrats seem to be setting the stage to take the moral, pro-woman, high ground. I would assume holding that high ground means that, should Moore be elected, those same Senators will immediately call for his expulsion the minute he comes to Washington. We shall see.

And of course it is further ironic that, even if that should happen, the process would probably include grinding through the Senate Ethics Committee—a remedy not afforded Senator Franken.

When I watched him on the floor of the Senate, Senator Franken seemed to be in some kind of political time warp. He seemed to use a standard for elected officials from the days when he was on Saturday Night Live, not the current standard of hanging on to power at all costs.

Senator Franken spoke of his constituency in Minnesota deserving a full-time Senator, one not distracted by defending and explaining himself before the Senate Ethics Committee. (And where does that leave New Jersey when Democratic Senator Robert Menendez has spent the last two and a half years under Federal indictment for bribery and fraud, leading to a mistrial last month? That same group of Democratic Senators didn’t mount a campaign to push him out of office, did they?)

So let’s tally the score. Senator Franken, once considered a potential 2020 presidential candidate, has been left for dead on the political battlefield. (Some might say it was a fragging.) Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, still considered for 2020, has led the charge to rid the Senate of its errant Democrat. (I will resist the impulse to continue the fragging metaphor.) The Senate seat in Alabama may go either way, and so might an election in Minnesota to replace Senator Franken. And even if Trump’s presidency is on shaky ground, it’s not because of the 2016 silence breakers, even if their 2017 counterparts just got named persons of the year.

If Moore loses in Alabama next week—and if he does, it won’t be because of Senator Franken—does that take the wind out of the Democrats’ sails? If Moore wins, can Democrats successfully make every Republican across the country defend Trump and Moore going into the 2018 elections? Will that be enough to shift the balance of power in Washington? And will Democrats have to do any additional “purging” because of new allegations that might be raised, which seems a bit more likely if a zero tolerance (zero intelligence?) policy has been adopted? After all, their strategy can be pretty plainly seen by anyone paying attention.

And what about the women who actually deal with this misconduct? Are we trying to figure out what might be the right thing to do for them? Or are the powers that be usurping this conversation for political purposes? Republican “denials” and Democrat “support”—at least to me today—feels like plain old jaded political posturing.




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