While there were lots of calls for Al Franken to resign, especially from women Democrats, I haven’t yet heard any concrete suggestions from this same group about creating an effective ethics process. It is easy to say that there should be ‘zero tolerance’ for inappropriate behavior: much easier to say than it is to accomplish it. That is as simplistic as “just say no to drugs.”
Now that they have hounded Franken out of the Senate with “zero process,” what kind of ‘fair and balanced’ evaluation are they proposing for the future? More of the same? Legislators need to be able to regulate their own behavior before they are credible brokers for the public.
The case study of Franken could have been a valuable one to begin to flesh out new policies and processes for allegations of bad behavior. Instead, we got a chorus of “off with his head” that seemed more like a scene from Alice in Wonderland. As a result, using Franken as a case study for the minor side of the problem (certainly compared to pedophilia) has been lost. The lessons were squandered.
One can only wonder if the rush to ’judgement’ was designed to help spare them the discomfort of having to talk about this situation over the holidays with friends and constituents, After all, that would have been a drag. Or perhaps they simply wanted to clean the slate so they could deal with the Republican offenders with 'clean hands.' Franken was just one of those unfortunate, non-felonius defendants who occasionally get collaterally executed to assure that we don't miss the real bad guys.
This same crew of ‘leaders’ better get busy and cook up a program before old Roy arrives.
While Franken left “voluntarily”, it was clearly with a pack of hounds after him. But the fundamental question isn’t if misbehavior should be dealt with, but whether the punishment matches the crime. With no formal process, this is unachievable. Ladies, have you no nuance? Can we now rely entirely on faceless accusers? According to Franken, whose apology was accepted by the only accuser with a face, the last accuser (supposedly the straw that broke the ladies’ camel’s back) was categorically denied by Franken. It sounds like it was actually the invisible straw that broke the camel’s back.
So if women in general, or in public office, are serious about deterring this behavior, they are going to have to do some more serious, uncomfortable and nuanced work. We don’t hang people for misdemeanors, or cut off the hands of minor offenders. Zero tolerance sounds good, but is a lazy way of sounding like you are doing something.
The big difference between Franken and Moore (aside from the huge disparity in the offenses—fake groping an adult vs. child molesting) is that Franken had the character to admit that he was wrong, while Moore and Trump totally and unconvincingly deny and lie about their criminal misbehaviors. If the Senators can’t separate these things, how could they expect to be reliable jurors for articles of impeachment for the *president?
We can’t call these problems equal, even though political hacks would like to make them moral equivalents…….they aren’t by a mile. For those lady Senators who seem so indignant, they need to distinguish between misdemeanors and felonies if we are to believe that they have the maturity to judge other matters on their plates that affect the public’s business.
Now that they have stepped out, they need to step up and deliver. History is watching.