Sunday, November 19, 2017

On Roy Moore. Al Franken, Bill Clinton, et al

Roy Moore would not have been my first choice for the Senate from any state. He would usually be my last choice, except if someone even worse were running. Roy Moore joins the ranks of Congressman Todd Akin, Sharron Angle, Christine (“I am not a witch”) O’Donnell, and Ken Buck, who cost the Republicans winnable Senate seats. The problem for the Republicans is that these candidates, including Roy Moore, were nominated by a Republican base that is frustrated by the Republican inaction in Congress. Alabama voters viewed Senator Luther Strange as an insider. The Hollywood disclosures followed by the political revelations opened the doors for victims to come forward and receive justice, even if it is justice delayed. Politicians attempting to take political advantage of these scandals are playing with fire. Once unleashed, they will become uncontrollable. Sexual assaults and harassment are bi-partisan, non-partisan, equal opportunity offenders. Sleaze is sleaze. Rape is rape. Statutory rape is rape. Power, political power, is an aphrodisiac for many. Power though is not an excuse, justification or explanation for sexual assaults or harassment. Basic rules of law and morality have been cast aside by the assailants, seduced or blinded by power. The accusations have spread from Hollywood to London and Washington, D.C. and now statehouses in Florida, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Rhode Island. Sadly, the settlements are often shrouded in secrecy. The California legislature, meaning taxpayers, has paid out at least $850,000 over the past five years in settlements for sexual harassment. About 200 women have come forward with complaints about legislators and staffers, but only 30 investigations have ensued since 2007. The legislature does not keep track of the settlements. Congress over the past 20 years has entered in 260 settlements totaling $15 million in taxpayer funds. Yet even today very few women have publicly come forward with specific accusations. Maybe Leann Tweeden will serve as an incentive. Accusations though are not necessarily politically fatal. Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Clinton survived a series of accusations about sexual assaults and harassment. Indeed, the mainstream media downplayed the accusations against President Clinton. Victims, such as Paula Jones, were alluded to as “trailer park trash.” Roy Moore was having difficulty solidifying the vote in conservative Alabama. He was twice kicked off the Alabama Supreme Court for defying the United States Constitution on the ban between Church and State. Then came the disclosures of his fondness for teenage girls, including apparently under-age girls. He thus was portrayed in the media as a pervert. The media tracked down every lead and encouraged every woman with knowledge to come forward. They were salivating as they poured it on Roy Moore and the GOP. Then came Leann Tweeden, Al Franken and the photo. The presumption of innocence works in a court of law, but not in the court of public opinion. Denials mean little against these accusations, particularly when many accusers come forward. The broadcaster Leann Tweeden accused then comedian, now Senator Al Franken, of harassment and groping during a USO tour. The damming charge is not so much the accusation as the photo. He looks like a lecher in the photo. The Democrats may throw Senator Franken under the bus or let him ride it out. They are turning on President Clinton, now asserting they should have taken action against President Clinton 20 years ago. Hillary twice lost races for the Presidency. The Democratic Party no longer has blind loyalty to the Clintons. They owe them nothing and don’t need them anymore. Now they believe Juanita Broderick, or so they say. The media is trying to use the Franken incident to segue to President Trump with the history of accusations against him. Of course, those same accusations were unsuccessfully raised during the Presidential campaign against President Trump, but the media cannot restrain itself. Critics of the harassment accusations, which span decades of claims, assert they may not always be believable because of the passage of time. Several considerations apply to these delayed claims. First, every major incident, such as a disaster, will bring out false claims. Thus, fraudulent claims may be made, but that does not detract from the validity of legitimate claims. Second, memories fade or reshape over time. However, these women appear credible. The Franken photo is worth a thousand words. It speaks loud and clear. The Senator cannot and does not deny it. He simply claims he was trying to be funny. We also know that some victims complained to authorities or others immediately after the incidents, giving rise to the validity of their present claims. Many women realized after the occurrence that any complaint would be futile under the prevailing circumstances as well as costing them their careers. Some women also understood that blowing up in the heat of anger would accomplish little, but instead waited for the right time to come forward. Always remember the old adage: “Revenge is best served cold.” For example, the then sleeping Leann was highly distressed by the two incidents. She held onto the photo and just now released it. Senator Franken could no more deny it than President Clinton the semen on Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress. One question is if Senator Al Franken will be hoisted on his own petard? The Senator posted on Facebook October 10: “The women who have shared their stories about Harvey Weinstein over the last few days are incredibly brave. It takes a lot of courage to come forward, and we owe them our thanks. And as we hear more and more about Mr. Weinstein, it’s important to remember that while his behavior was appalling, it’s far too common.” The Senator also tweeted “We must address sexual harassment.” He also wrote “I encourage victims to stand up and tell their stories.” Leann Tweeden took him at his word. Senator Franken said in a statement after Leann Tweeden’s accusation: “I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.” Al Franken is undoubtedly not the only member of Congress with sexual harassment; the history of Congress tells us that. Judge them not by what they say, but by what they do.

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