Democrats’ decision to force out Sen. Al Franken (D.-Minn.) over sexual misconduct allegations was as much about preparing another front in the war on President Trump as it was about claiming the moral high ground — but they may be regretting it already.
“Shut out of power completely, [Democrats] are looking for a way out of the wilderness,” Karen Tumulty wrote in the Washington Post. “Toward that end, getting rid of Franken was both a moral and political calculation. It was the Democrats’ strongest declaration yet that they – unlike the Republicans – are willing to sacrifice their own in the interest of staking out the high ground.”
Franken described the game in his defiant resignation speech when he noted that he, of all people, appreciated the irony that “I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.”
“That, in fact, is precisely the contrast that Democrats hope to present – as House leaders did in forcing the resignation of Rep. John Conyers (D.-Mich.), the longest-serving member of Congress, who was accused of demanding sexual favors from female staffers.”
Ruth Marcus, deputy editor of the Post’s editorial page, said that, “Democrats are better off with the Minnesota senator gone. There’s more doubt about whether justice was done.”
In a podcast on the Post website, Marcus said she was “discomfited” by the process … how it was speeded up and some complaints were anonymous … and Bob Menendez is in trouble also. The process was so rushed that “we’re punishing every act of misconduct with the same political death sentence here,” she said.
Marcus continued this argument in a column in Friday.
If Franken stayed, it would be “a nonstop distraction, muddling Democrats’ case against alleged groper President Trump and alleged child molester Roy Moore. Franken paid not only for their sins but also for the alleged behavior of Bill Clinton two decades ago. Democrats underreacted them and consequently were impelled to overreact now.”
The Post’s Kate Harding began making this case weeks ago, when she argued on her podcast that Franken should stay because he has done so much to help women.
Harding’s case places political expediency ahead of the concerns of the women Franken reportedly assaulted.
“If we set this precedent in the interest of demonstrating our party’s solidarity with harassed and abused women, we’re only going to drain the swamp of people who, however flawed, still regularly vote to protect women’s rights and freedoms. … Isn’t that hypocritical? I hear you asking, ‘because Republicans won’t do the right thing, we shouldn’t either?’ But if the short-term ‘right thing’ leads to long-term political catastrophe for American women, I think we need to reconsider our definition of the right thing.”
Time pointed to the Republicans who have questioned Franken’s forced resignation.
“What you saw today was a lynch mob,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said. “Let’s not have due process. Let’s not ask anybody any questions. Let’s not have any chance to have a hearing. Let’s just lynch him because when we get done lynching him, we’ll be so pure.”
Laura Ingraham, who was interviewing Gingrich, explained Republican thinking.
“What does this do?” Ingraham asked. “It sets the precedent for the Democrats to try to drive Roy Moore from office, should he win the Alabama Senate race. And two, this is the next step in the quest to impeach President Trump.”