Franken Should Stay

Franken Should Stay

By William B. Turner

I like Tammy Baldwin. I voted for Tammy Baldwin when she was running for her seat in the House of Representatives, and when she was running for the Senate. I invited her to come speak to a course I taught at the University of Wisconsin. I have a very high opinion of Tammy Baldwin.

And Tammy Baldwin is wrong.

She had joined the chorus of Democratic women calling on Al Franken to resign from the Senate because of allegations of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment and assault is a huge problem in our society that we should take very seriously and persons, mostly men, who engage in it should stop. Don’t touch other people’s private body parts without being asked. Don’t whip your pee pee out unless everyone present has asked to see it. Just don’t. This is not difficult.

But we can make moral distinctions. Age matters. Chasing teen girls is morally more grave than touching adult women. Deliberately walking into rooms where young women are changing their clothes to get your jollies looking at them is worse than touching adult women.

The allegations against Franken have all the markings of a hit job. Roger Stone, everyone’s favorite sleaze ball, had advance knowledge of the news. James O’Keefe has recently tried to discredit the Washington Post for its reporting about a Republican Senate candidate and his profoundly disgusting behavior in this realm.

One Republican Senator within recent memory kept his seat after news emerged that he paid prostitutes to put diapers on him. Another Republican Senator kept his seat after suffering arrest for allegedly trying to have sex in an airport men’s room.

This kind of thing is why Democrats lose. I do not want Democrats to become Republicans. Democrats propose thoughtful, intelligent policies for the genuine purpose of solving people’s problems. Those solutions are never perfect. We live in an imperfect world. The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect. We could improve it. But it’s a damn sight better than anything the Republicans have come with after eight years of whining about it.

Banning Muslims is a stupid idea. Building a wall at the Mexican border is a stupid idea. Every component of the Republican tax bill is a stupid idea.

People keep comparing Franken to Roy Moore. This is silly. Under their worst description, the allegations against Franken are trivial compared to what we have good reason to believe about Moore.

I think we should presumptively believe persons who report sexual harassment and assault. But we should investigate their claims and use reasonable, established standards for evaluating the available evidence. We should differentiate the severity of claims. We have lots of compelling evidence of reprehensible, repeated behavior by Roy Moore. We have a few pieces of slightly dubious evidence of inappropriate behavior by Al Franken. Even his accuser is not calling for his resignation.

Strong, intelligent, emphatically feminist women I went to college with, including one who is Franken’s constituent, want him to keep his seat.

Franken should stay in the Senate.