The feminist part of me applauds his forcing-out at the hands of female senators. Maybe he posed for that dumb picture with a fellow entertainer for what he sincerely thought were harmless entertainment reasons. Nonetheless, the image did send a harmful message to immature males everywhere. That message is that women are objects of harmless fun, particularly women who are unconscious and helpless. So perhaps Franken's forced ouster will send its own message to immature men of all ages: Better think twice before playfully thrusting your tongue into an unwilling mouth, or affectionately pinching a bottom during a routine photo op.
The traditional (small d) democrat in me abhors his forced resignation by a handful of female senators. The voters of Minnesota put Al Franken into office, and they should be the ones to take him out, by recall, if they wanted to. Franken was railroaded out of The Swamp even before the ethically challenged Senate ethics committee got the chance to drag out another investigation. Franken absolutely does have a right to feel very bitter about the whole thing. The last thing a powerful man expects is to made an example of by a bunch of women. He must have felt like the hog-tied boss in Nine to Five as he delivered his bitter farewell speech.
|Our Cathartic Moment of Zen|
Meanwhile, the traditional democrat part of me also finds it very hard to be sympathetic to Al Franken, given my previous longstanding disenchantment with him. Despite the fact that his Minnesota constituents overwhelmingly chose Bernie Sanders in last year's Democratic Party caucuses, Franken, as a committed Hillary Clinton super-delegate, refused to change his own support. He explained that, since those same caucus voters had also elected him to the Senate, they "trusted" him to be the ultimate decider.
As a sort of precursor to his not remembering his well-meaning attacks on women the same way the women remembered them, Franken stressed that he didn't actually mean to imply that he thinks he is smarter than his constituents. He simply ignored them for their own good.
Meanwhile, both the democratic and feminist sides of me absolutely believe that my senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, railroaded Al Franken out of office for her own self-serving political purposes. Still something of a starlet among the overcrowded roster of rising Democratic stars, she knew a wedge issue opportunity when she saw it. Since the party slogan, "A Better Deal" was going nowhere fast, ambitious Democrats are hastily co-opting the #MeToo movement to differentiate themselves from the slimy Republicans, particularly alleged pedophile Roy Moore of Alabama and the admitted serial abuser in the White House. If the Democrats can't and won't run a campaign of economic justice for all, they'll grasp at any convenient straw they can. It'll be a war against the men who wage war against women.
Although the socialist part of me thinks that selective Me-Tooism is deeply reactionary as well as threatening to devolve into another McCarthyite cult, there's that other part of me who, still feeling the sting of my own prior victimization, is absolutely thrilled by the Fall of the Great Hogs as well as some of the lesser oinkers.
True, Gillibrand was a conservative upstate New York Blue Dog long before she became an overnight opportunistic New York City-style progressive. But she has been known to buck bellicose male tradition from time to time. She dared to criticize Barack Obama for refusing to take sex assaults outside the chain of military command. And although she eventually tried to walk back her heretical disownment of the Clintons after suggesting that Bill should have resigned the presidency for his own sexual sleaze, she was the first member of her party in the Age of Hillary to do so. Regardless of ulterior motives, you have to admit that took some chutzpah.
So I'm ambivalent about Gillibrand too. Would it be better for her and other female lawmakers to just shut up about congressional predators? Of course not. But then I get hung up on due process, and I also can't help thinking about The Scarlet Letter with Kirsten Gillibrand starring as Roger Chillingworth. And then I think about how stone-cold silent she and her fellow legislators have been about the still-pending corruption charges against Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey. His first trial ended in a hung jury last month, but he's calling it an acquittal, and he's still sitting pretty in his own legislative seat.
Of course, the other problem with the #MeToo movement is that, thus far anyway, the media coverage has been largely confined to men in high places abusing women (and men) in somewhat less-high places, or at least those who ambitiously aspire to high places. For the most part, the Narrative is about elites vs. elite wannabes. We haven't heard too many stories of working class women and men getting abused and/or fired, without the cushion of lucrative "settlement" deals to soften the blow of their low-wage job losses. There is no corporate or taxpayer-funded hush money slush fund set aside for waitresses and office temps and Uber drivers.
And with so many liberals now turning on Gillibrand for ruining Al Franken's life for the good of a weak and corrupt Democratic Party, the dreaded backlash has already begun. The #MeToo movement, which so quickly advanced to a cult-like status thanks to the crusading journalism of the New York Times, threatens to go the way of the pink pussy-hat: into the discontinued yarn bin of history.
The irony is that the movement started out as a proxy fight against Donald Trump. The destruction of Harvey Weinstein, a vile proxy for the ages, got the whole bandwagon morphing into a runaway freight train. There are new accusations against new men every day, and the media prints them as hastily as their routine vetting procedures permit. Actual time, though, is not of the essence; some of the stories, such as those involving famed conductor James Levine, go back half a century.
And Donald Trump is not only still sitting pretty, he even champions his fellow predators with absolute impunity. In endorsing Alabama's Ray Moore, he's outed himself as a pedophile-phile, and proud of it. So, apparently, are a slim polled majority of Alabama's voters.
Also ironic is the possibility that, had Al Franken not gone against the wishes of voters and clung to the flawed and fatal campaign of Hillary Clinton, he might still be sitting pretty in his own Senate seat. It is now a truth universally acknowledged (at least by Donna Brazile and the leaked Podesta and DNC emails) that the primary process was rigged against Bernie Sanders. If he had secured the nomination, many believe that his left-wing populism could easily have trounced Trump's right-wing populism.
But don't tell that to the Democratic Party's elite faction. Pundit Paul Krugman, among others, is still artificially and uselessly confining his angst to the far-right wing of the reactionary Uniparty. His latest op-ed oh so originally points out that "Facts Have a Well-Known Liberal Bias." In other words, if the GOP says the moon is made of green cheese, and the Democrats say it is made of moon rocks, it therefore follows that the Democrats own the moral high ground, even as they gleefully appropriate three quarters of a trillion dollars to the war machine of their predatory faux-nemesis, Donald Trump. Krugman righteously writes in the New York Times:
Surveys done by the University of Minnesota and George Mason University have shown that the supposedly impartial “fact checking” news organization rates Republican claims as false three times as often as Democratic claims and twice as much, respectively.
Notice the implicit assumption here – namely, that impartial fact-checking would find an equal number of false claims from each party. But what if – bear with me a minute – Republicans actually make more false claims than Democrats?....
....Whatever the deep explanation, however, the parties are not the same. And trying to pretend that they are the same isn’t just foolish, it’s deeply destructive. Indeed, it’s one important reason Donald Trump sits in the White House.My published response:
The relentlessness of the GOP's lies has a "gaslighting" effect, serving to block normal minds from perceiving the actual truth. Since it's human nature to search for the "middle ground" between the truth and its opposite, too many of us end up settling for a counterfeit compromise. And this is precisely the intent of the liars and their media enablers.
They serve up their "news" not to keep us informed, but to ensure that we remain comfortable consumers in a very pathological situation.
It's like trying to find a magical healthy spot between stage 4 cancer and a benign tumor. Rather than calling the terminal disease a terminal disease, and rather than admit that a cancer-free body is the ideal, they settle for the stage 2 disease and pronounce it as healthy as can be expected.
Of course the Republicans and the Democrats aren't the same. But the Dems have to do more than indignantly moralize against the GOP pathocrats. They have to do more than point to "Russia" as the root of our divisiveness. They have to do more than brag about getting rid of their own in-house predators while pointing their virtue-signaling fingers at Trump and Roy Moore.
They have to prescribe an actual cure to what ails this sick society. They have to champion Medicare for All, college debt relief, strong public education and housing policies, and living wage legislation. Maybe then they can start winning back some of the thousand seats they've lost to the GOP liars over the past decade.