Right now, few equate Sen. Al Franken’s one-time sexual nastiness towards a fellow performer with boastful serial abusers like Trump, let alone vile “sex careerists” like Cosby, Ailes or Roy Moore, years in the making. These sexual predators leverage blatant position and/or celebrity power to assault multiple victims — bully them into silence, then unapologetically, hypocritically stonewall when exposed.
Unlike Franken’s bad miscue, a pattern of strategic degradations of innocent women raises profound character questions: how psychologically sick are those who live to abuse? And don’t such obsessions feed other sins, namely lying, bullying, malevolence, dominance, and zero empathy? Unlike Franken, these creeps exhibit nothing less than what I call Sex Abusers Syndrome. Franken apparently harassed one woman one time, then, when accused, instantly validated the complaint and cleanly apologized. He clearly distinguishes himself from sex abusers by doing what they never do: validating another’s painful experience, accepting responsibility, then inviting a formal ethnics inquiry.
If public opinion can’t separate Franken’s overall life behavior from serial predators (Trump has a dozen accusers, Moore 9 so far but closing), then this nation descends to knee-jerk tribalism that mocks justice and morality. Indeed, you can spot a shameless abuser by how quickly they indict their victims as bad faith liars, spurred solely by evil conspirators out to get them. In Moore’s case, the “culprits” are the Washington Post, Democrats and establishment Republicans — none of whom had anything to do with the truth of these women’s reports. Predictably, chronic abusers loudly double down with phony righteousness (as if incapable of wrongdoing), and that’s why they never, ever apologize. Moore is typical, defying countless reports by asserting his sainthood as a good Christian. Why, he can barely imagine even harboring such evil intentions, let alone acting on them. Yup, though not Catholic, behold Saint Roy or Saint Donald ready to sue every victim for damages to HIM!
Trump the Chump
Transparent hypocrisy is especially laughable with Trump, who not only boasted about grabbing women’s genitals but smirked to Howard Stern about leering at undressed teen contestants (having free reign over his own beauty contests). There is no greater irony imaginable than when Trump, the most accused, nationally-elected sex abuser, impugns Franken, at the very worst guilty of 1/12th or much less vs. Trump sleaziness. As Ivanka Trump said this week, with irony-free tunnel vision, “There’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children.” Trump even joked, creepiness incarnate, that he could imagine dating his own hot daughter.
I can’t yet imagine Franken being forced to resign, especially since his wrongdoing long preceded his Senate election. Yet, if pressure were to mount on Franken, or more accusers surface, I have a win-win idea: Senator, why not fall on your sword and offer to resign only if Trump does? That noble sacrifice would certainly liberate us from by far our worst president, daily redefining what a defective, low-class and White House means. Because the contrite Franken still can claim moral distinctions, he’d be taking the high ground against the unscrupulous, unprincipled Trumps, saying, “You have 12 accusers. I have one. Though there’s no moral equivalence, I still make the offer.”
If this ploy doesn’t work, and time allows, Franken can try the same ultimatum on Roy Moore if by chance he wins his December election. Quitting early would certainly save Moore the humiliation of a Senate Ethnics inquiry, then prospects of expulsion with a dozen GOPers already arrayed against him. When the staid majority leader McConnell declares Moore unfit, in advance, endorsing the multiple accusations, your senate career kicks off in the deepest trouble.
Finally, if none of these challenges work, and Franken looks to lose his seat, he has one more chance for glory. He can offer to resign if Sean Hannity apologizes for uninhibited fake news, resigns from FOX News, and agrees not to do fake journalism for five years. Okay, this one is far-fetched, but it would clarify who’s willing to stand honestly by one’s values vs. sleazy unprofessionals who’d prostitute themselves for fame, money and power.
Of course, it’s still unlikely the Senate will force out a senator whose miscues preceded his tenure, nor one never indicted or convicted of a crime. Women are already coming forward to support Franken’s decency and respectful treatment of women workers. That disgraceful legacies from Bill Clinton surface are not surprising but far more relevant to the Trump, Ailes, and Moore low-lifes than anything linked to Franken. Doesn’t another place in Hell exist for sex hunters able to pick off the most vulnerable women (over whom they hold power), then shifting into full attack mode, with mockery, threats and/or actual contact.
There is, of course, good news, whatever happens to the players. Sexual abuse and harassment are now conspicuous national topics, with spirited discussions likely to spawn greater moral, cultural awareness and work thresholds. That also guarantees that wrongdoing by sex cave men like Trump return to center stage. On top of the president’s other gross failures, countless scandals and indictable crimes, what if renewal of his predatory nastiness upped his high disapproval numbers another five or eight points? When that tops 70%, watch more Republicans race for the exits, convinced Trump is the greatest political albatross in modern times, both next year and for 2020. That exile would be intensely poetic, if not political and moral justice of the highest order. And voting adults need as much of that as we can secure.