It’s too bad the Senator Kirsten Gillibrand felt she had to throw Senator Al Franken under the bus in order to set up her blistering attack on President Donald Trump. She didn’t have to do it this way. The concepts of nuance and context are becoming more and more endangered these days, and conflating Al Franken with Donald Trump is the pluperfect example of everything that’s wrong with binary, two-party politics.
Clearly Gillibrand felt she couldn’t legitimately hold the moral high ground over Trump unless she pummeled Franken first. That, to me, is a sad and cynical ploy. Franken, and yes even Trump, deserve due process. I’ve seen some garbage takes online recently that due process isn’t for elected officials. In fact, that’s not garbage, that’s bullshit. If no one is above the law, no one is beneath it either. Every accused person deserves their due process, to present their claims, their side of things, their evidence. That’s literally the American way of handling matters of justice, but to Gillibrand, politics took precedence over values in the case of Al Franken.
There aren’t a pile of women accusing Franken of anything remotely rising to the level of what Trump has been accused of. Hell, there aren’t people accusing Franken of things Louis CK admitted to. Indeed, some of Franken’s accusers do actually sound dubious in their claims. And before anyone pulls the “You have a dick and no valid opinion on this matter” card…sure. Okay, I’ll go with that. But Zephyr Treachout is a brilliant female voice in progressive politics and she wrote a pretty awesome op-ed in The New York Times today entitled, “I’m Not Convinced Franken Should Quit.”
In her piece for The Times, Treachout lays out a rational case for why due process matters even more in these #MeToo times we live in.
Zero tolerance should go hand in hand with two other things: due process and proportionality. As citizens, we need a way to make sense of accusations that does not depend only on what we read or see in the news or on social media. (NYT)
Ms. Treachout does a great job of explaining why the Franken Affair was handled so badly by Senate Dems, but it also gives some insight into what Democrats should have been focused on instead.
Due process means a fair, full investigation, with a chance for the accused to respond. And proportionality means that while all forms of inappropriate sexual behavior should be addressed, the response should be based on the nature of the transgressions. (NYT)
“The response should be based on the nature of the transgressions” is a really nice way of saying that the punishment should fit the crime. This is yet another paradigm of the American justice system, I always thought. But apparently, when you’re about to slay a big, orange, dumb giant you have to flush your sense of proportion down the same sewer system our government has been plunging into since this past January.
As wrong Senator Gillibrand was about Franken, she is completely spot on about Trump. The president is the man who has been accused of rape, who has bragged about grabbing women by their genitals under the very thin guise of “they let you do it if you’re famous and rich.” Trump is the man who bragged about walking in on teenage girls dressing for his beauty pageants. And he is the man who has endorsed a pedophile for Senate.
Believe me, I loved this Twitter exchange between Gillibrand and Trump.
President Trump should resign. But, of course, he won't hold himself accountable. Therefore, Congress should investigate the multiple sexual harassment and assault allegations against him.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) December 11, 2017
You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office. https://t.co/UbQZqubXZv
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) December 12, 2017
That’s a pretty epic smack down Senator Gillibrand laid on Trump. It’s also completely awesome that her tweet has gotten nearly four times the likes and five times the retweets that Trump’s did. It gives me hope at a time when that’s a more precious commodity than lolbertarian crypto currencies that are sure to see their bubble pop soon.
All that being said though…
The character differences between Franken and Trump are a country mile wide and a solar system deep. Yet, when Gillibrand did what she did to Franken, she hamfistedly gave Franken the same black eye that Trump deserves. You don’t have to forgive Franken’s inappropriate behavior to stop yourself short of crucifying him for it.
The person every Democrat should be smacking down is Trump, not Franken. Mr. Franken demanded an ethics investigation into himself. Trump does everything he can to shirk responsibility and accountability. Ms. Gillibrand and every Democrat who signed onto her ouster of Franken, has done her party a huge disservice in conflating Franken and Trump. Still, it can’t be understated how important and commendable it is that she’s willing to go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump, asserting her power as a member of a co-equal branch of government, not beholden to the president like a lapdog.
Kirsten Gillibrand was wrong about Al Franken, but dead-on-balls perfect about Donald Trump.