Monday, November 26, 2018

Kirsten Gillibrand Isn't the Bad Guy Here

Kirsten Gillibrand is catching hell for "forcing" the resignation of Al Franken last year after it was revealed that he had been accused of sexual misconduct. How much hell? According to a recent piece in Politico, "more than a dozen prominent West Coast, New York and national donors and bundlers — many of them women — said they would never again donate to or fundraise for Gillibrand or would do so only if she ended up as the Democratic presidential nominee."

One of the prominent donors who just happens to NOT be a woman is George Soros. Yes, that George Soros. In June, he questioned Gillibrand's motives, saying she only did it to "improve her chances" for a 2020 presidential run. If you're on Soros's shit list you clearly have a problem.

Look, I understand the frustration many Democrats feel over what happened to Franken. He was an accomplished senator who would've made a formidable opponent for Trump had he decided to run in 2020. But Gillibrand is not the bad guy here; Franken is. Granted, he's no Roy Moore or Matt Lauer. But he's hardly Pope Francis either. In any other era what he did would've gotten him a slap on the wrist. But this is the Me Too era and yesterday's slap on the wrist is today's career ender. Franken knew that, which is why he chose to resign rather than force a lengthy Senate investigation.

His supporters need to realize that there is no up side in vilifying Gillibrand; just the opposite in fact. Since the Monica Lewinski scandal twenty years ago, Democrats have had a blind spot when it comes to the sexual misconduct of their own leaders. It matters not that Bill Clinton was an outstanding president who, while in office, championed women's right; his conduct was deplorable, and the way in which Democrats - particularly progressives - treated Lewinski was a disgrace. Slut shaming does not even begin to describe what happened to her. There are many women that to this day have never forgiven the party for that incident. Given that 2018 saw record numbers of them elected to office, it is foolhardy to say the least to defend the actions of a man who, in the end, admitted his wrong doing and did the right thing by resigning.

I don't know whether Kirsten Gillibrand will decide to run for president in 2020 - for my part I'm holding off commenting on what will undoubtedly be a crowded field for at least another month. But this much I do know. If she does run, she deserves to be evaluated on what qualifications she would bring to the table, and not crucified for standing up for what she believes in.

Democrats can't have it both ways. They can't publicly excoriate Republicans for defending the likes of a Brett Kavanaugh while at the same time conveniently ignoring the malfeasance of an Al Franken. If they are going to mount a serious challenge to Trump they are going to have to convince a majority of the electorate that they have a rightful claim to the moral high ground.

One way to do that would be to admit that just because you have a D next to your name doesn't mean the rules of common decency don't apply to you.

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