Democrats should be doing a happy dance. After-all, they enjoyed stunning successes in Virginia and New Jersey earlier this month. Roy Moore’s moral foibles and seeming interest in younger ladies as a former County DA did not do his party a solid.
Democrats, eager to pounce on the beleaguered GOP majority did so with gusto. Numerous Democrats have urged Republicans to force Moore to drop out of the race. But, then, late last week, Republicans were given a lifeline in Al Franken. Specifically, allegations Franken forced his tongue down a young actress’s throat during a USO tour in 2006. Now, he has been accused of sexually harassing another woman while serving as a US Senator. Yikes!
Democrats had the moral high ground on Moore for good reason. National Republicans were smart to distance themselves from Moore but local Republicans stuck with him. Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell did verbal juditsu to say they did not want a Democrat in the seat but that Moore would be a political nightmare for their party.
Meanwhile, Democrats, already dusting off their “War on Women” arguments gloated on the sidelines. They figured even if Moore loses he will be an albatross around the GOP’s neck and they could Todd Akin the GOP to death next year.
Enter Al Franken. The Franken saga has made any Democratic attacks against Republicans hypocritical and in its own way insulated the GOP from accusations of being anti-women. Notably, national Republicans have distanced themselves from Moore but not so much Democrats with Franken. In fact, the second accuser of Franken has been met with deafening silence from Democrats.
As if Franken was bad enough now Democrats have to deal with even worse accusations against Representative Jon Conyers. Conyers is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and the longest serving member of the House, first elected in 1965. While he has denied the accusations, yet again it is Democrats who find themselves on the defensive.
What looked like a problem for the GOP has largely been mitigated by the patheticness of the other side of the aisle. A number of female Democratic members of Congress have come out and talked about being groped or made to feel less than equal to their male colleagues.
If Republicans were smart they would run any woman they could find to insulate themselves from the Moore connection. Unfortunately, Republican women seem to be in short supply. Republicans have few female candidates running for statewide office (not to even mention their viability).
Democrats, run by their old guard, likely won’t suffer midterm problems. But, come 2020, where it is clear Senators like Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren are clearly positioning themselves for a run and Kamala Harris is reportedly the favorite of the Clinton camp and the campaign could feature a gender divide never seen before in the party. It is impossible to know exactly how this would play out but it seems safe to say sexual harassment will come up.
Sexual harassment is not a partisan affair. It just broke a California State Representative (the House Majority Whip) resigned due to allegations. In Iowa, the GOP controlled state legislature is set to pass new policies on harassment and etiquette.
Voters have to be looking on with disgust at both parties. Harassment and assault seem to know no political boundaries nor are they confined to one party. But, from a purely partisan perspective, at least Republicans have made efforts to distance themselves from Moore. National Democrats have been all but mum about Franken and Conyers. And that is a problem!