I write to you not just about your reputed pending career decision, but about a matter of utmost importance: The future of the Democratic Party.
Like many Americans, I have been watching with great interest the unfolding of the saga which started with the accusations of Leeann Tweeden, and the revelation of the now-famous photograph from the USO Tour. At the time the story first broke, I found myself reading all I could find on the subject. What I found, included pictures of Ms. Tweeden acting towards male members of USO Tours in much the same way, suggest to me that the now infamous photo was indicative not of assault (as it’s normally understood) as she no alleges, but of an atmosphere of adult-themed humor that seems to have been a part and parcel of both the on- and off-stage nature of the Tour.
A theme of which Ms. Tweeden was seemingly quite comfortable and participatory at the time.
It all seemed much ado about nothing. Still, you did the adult thing and apologized anyway.
Then came allegations of groping during a public photoshoot at a State Fair, with the supposed victim’s husband taking the photo. This I found so absurd that I find it difficult to believe it has to be addressed. Still, you made a statement saying that you don’t recall the incident and explaining how any such “groping” would have been unintentional.
Then more allegations of similar sort and several from Anonymous sources including some which you’ve explicitly denied (as opposed to the decidedly more generous “recall differently” prior statements).
Then again, many of the women with whom you’ve worked for many years, came forward with completely different stories of you. Stories of how you helped and supported them and how they didn’t believe these allegations.
By this point, it seems clear that this is a “hit” designed to be a “death of a thousand cuts” which started with a Republican operative (Tweeden) and has progressed to the point where we now have Democratic Senators demanding that you resign the senate.
I have three points to make here:
First, let me say that I find the allegations against you to be ludicrous. Those of Ms. Tweeden for the reasons described above, and the others because it is unbelievable that you, or anyone else, would assault anyone in full view of the cameras (and a supposed victim’s husband!) anywhere outside of the Playboy Mansion – let alone at the State Fair.
Second, if I am mistaken, and these allegations are true, then I think they likely rise to the point where a censure might be appropriate. The answer as to whether they do indeed rise to such a level, is a matter best handled by the Senate Ethics Committee. Commendably, you, yourself, have called for just such an investigation.
Third, and most critical, I do not agree with the 32 Democratic Senators (as of this writing) who have called for you to resign. In fact, based on the facts as I understand them, I find their call for you to do so to be so outrageous that it makes me question my support for the Democratic Party itself.
I understand that the 32 Senators intend to put forth a “Zero Tolerance” policy towards Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault, and I agree with such a policy. However, the USO photo, in the aforementioned context of the tour, is neither. If the “groping at the Fair” allegations count, then either you suffer from a truly bizarre ‘State Fair Derangement’ that causes different behavior in public photoshoots at the fair than with female colleagues, or any innocent contact is Harassment and/or Assault.
If it’s the former, seek help.
If it’s the latter, then exactly how low a bar are we willing to accept as Harassment or Assault? Perhaps I was assaulted (and did plenty of assaulting) at every concert, NYE party, or any other crowded event I ever attended.
I also understand that these Senators are concerned with appearing to be hypocritical with regards to their support of women and the “me too” movement, and their condemnation victimizers. However, I do not see that anything of the sort has been shown in this case and a knee-jerk “the accused must go” without any critical evaluation of the claims whatsoever, only makes things worse, not better no matter the intent.
Again, if I am wrong, and the various allegations are true, especially those that supposedly happed behind closed doors (such as “forced kissing”), as opposed to at the Fair, then I will stand corrected and censure is most certainly in order.
But what the Democratic “Leadership” is doing, rather than supporting the “me too” victims, is:
1) Ignoring the fact that this looks contrived and over blown,
2) Over-reacting to the facts as we know them, and
3) Cheapening, rather than supporting, the “me too” movement.
If they Democratic Leadership cannot see this for the “hit job” it so clearly seems to be, and are so ready are they to turn on one of their own, one who has been a strong voice for Democratic Values, then they are not my “Leadership”, the Democrats are not my party, and they will not have my vote.
In short, if you resign from the Senate, and do so not because you are truly guilty (of a lot more than currently seems to be the case) but because of pressure from the Democratic “Leadership”, you will take me with you, out of the Democratic Party.
And there are Millions more like me out there.