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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Al Franken: So Far, He's Resolving This The Right Way...So Far

Category: Society
Posted: 11/17/17 15:30

by Dave Mindeman

When the news about Al Franken and his sexual harassment charges broke, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Surely, not Al. OMG, he has been a leader on women's issues ever since he came to the Senate - both on women's rights and reproductive rights.

Leeann Tweeden's open letter was compelling and kind of gut wrenching. And then, the awful photo came and I thought - No, Al, that's not OK and not funny. What the hell were you thinking?

Then all the reactions came. They came fast and swift. Democrats and Republicans. A number of people immediately called for resignation.

And even though I have been a hard core supporter of Al Franken from the beginning, I could not say that those resignation calls were wrong. His voice would now be questioned. His actions even more so.

My first reaction was to put what I could find out, out there. And then watch the reactions from the people in the political sphere. Of course, the Republicans put forward the hypocrisy of it all (and it was hard to disagree); and the liberal Democratic response was much the same (which in these cases was actually a good thing). As we move forward on the explosion of sexual harassment charges, it has to be taken out of the partisan bubble and, as many have said, we need to listen to the women.

Yeah, gentleman, we do not get any final say on this. We are all, all of us, guilty as charged. The societal norms regarding men is not right. It is completely and totally wrong and we need to fix that. Yes, there is a lot about this problem that we are brought up with - it is what we are taught. But it is NOT in our DNA. We can do better. Each generation needs to fix what it can. But the first thing to do is listen to how women are affected.

Unlike many of the current charges in regards to other people, Al responded a little different. He, as many would, hedged on the facts...just a little at first. But he came to the proper conclusion - if Leeann Tweeden was offended then he was wrong.

And Leeann, for her part, was willing to listen. She felt that Al's apology was real and she didn't feel that Al Franken should resign - but for her own emotional well being, she had to say something. She has been very fair to Franken - more than most would be willing to do.

But she gets the final say on this. We should take our cues from her. And to her credit, she seems willing to forgive.

In addition, Franken is doing his part. He started slow but thought it through and issued a personal apology directly to Leeann, which she graciously read on the view.

"Dear Leeann, I want to apologize to you personally," Tweeden read aloud for the audience. "I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, but that doesn't matter. There's no excuse and I understand why you could feel violated by that photo. I remember that rehearsal differently, but what's important is that [sic] the impact it had on you and you felt violated by my actions, and for that I apologize. I have tremendous respect for your work for the USO and I am ashamed that my actions ruined that experience for you. I am so sorry. Sincerely, Al Franken."

Now this may be OK for this incident....but we all know that when something like this is made public, there are often other problems ready to surface. So we will have to reserve judgment on the final conclusion for a later time.

For now, it seems to me that Al Franken resolved this the right way.
comments (3) permalink

Bill Clinton Is Not An Example Nor An Excuse

Category: Society
Posted: 11/15/17 05:59, Edited: 11/15/17 06:01

by Dave Mindeman

The most used defense by Republican apologists for Roy Moore, Donald Trump, etc....is that Bill Clinton was a sexual predator that liberals defended and that he (Clinton) may have been worse than those accused now.

This is the only tactic left in any kind of defense of sexual harassment and abuse that Republicans have perpetrated and which they seem compelled to defend.

So, let's look at the case of Bill Clinton. Yes, Bill Clinton made some horrible mistakes. And there is no defense for his actions. None.

But Republicans, in their zeal to make political hay, focused on the politics rather than what he did wrong. And, as usual, when the GOP does that, they overplayed their hand.

When the Bill Clinton scandal happened, the Republicans couldn't just focus on Bill himself. No they couldn't help but add the women involved into their methods of destruction.

Monica Lewinsky was ostracized, humiliated, and victimized. Even though the sexual encounter was consensual, Bill Clinton abused the relationship with his position of power. That should have been more of the story, but Republicans had to turn it into a moral issue only - maybe they have forgotten, but all three of the Republican House speakers that shared the same tenure as Clinton had to step down for adultery accusations - Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston, and Dennis Hastert. In the case of Hastert, there was a monster lurking there that only years later could be revealed.

So the "morality" of it all soon began to loom as a hypocritical political stunt because of that.

And let's not forget Hillary Clinton. The Republicans could not resist taking her pain and humiliation and turning that into blaming her as complicit. That ridiculous notion was made to follow her for the rest of her career. The flaw that was Bill's alone became one for the whole family. Hillary was vilified for the difficult decision to stay in the marriage and Chelsea's pain was simply ignored.

Many Democrats joined the condemnation of what Bill did (including me), but when the politics became the focal point, it became a referendum on the policy and not the man. Republicans can't seem to resist that - a sex scandal is meaningless to them unless you can gain political advantage with it. Evidence of that is right here in the Minnesota Capitol. The Democrat Schoen was condemned in a bipartisan manner, while Cornish has never been officially condemned by the State GOP.

Comparing Roy Moore to Bill Clinton is hard to allow as well. Moore has a pattern of preying on underage girls, while Bill Clinton was just stupid. Clinton and Trump have a somewhat similar pattern of sexual casualness towards women - but Clinton's legacy became tarnished and it has taken years to become as popular as he is now....despite all of it. Trump's tendency is to relegate his misogyny as unimportant and acceptable for his view of society.

And as we see in all of these cases, the women who are the real victims have to endure ridiculous scrutiny and have to defend themselves in regards to every detail.

This is a bipartisan problem, but Republicans are in denial about the sexual problem itself. The POLITICS of the moment is all they wish to deal with.
comments (1) permalink

Talking About Sexual Harassment At The Capitol

Posted: 11/12/17 17:21

by Dave Mindeman

Let's talk for a bit about the recent sexual harassment charges that have come to public attention.

It is a complicated subject and you can take it in many directions depending on your personal perspective. And let's face it, in our flawed society the expectations from male and female perspectives can be vastly different.

John Gilmore, a conservative Republican writer, wrote a column for Alpha News that brings up some interesting points as he criticizes everyone involved. He says that there is too much politics involved while emphasizing ONLY political points of view. A bit hypocritical himself, but interesting none the less.

The article has a Republican bias but a good self examination of the Republican response as well.

But let's discuss how these allegations are being portrayed. Sexual harassment in the work place is always an uncomfortable and unnecessary problem. Relationships are complicated enough - don't let the work place become part of that complication. That should be a basic tenet as we delve into this.

A lot of people ask the question, why now? And I would respond, if not now, when? This is not a new problem at the legislature. Many rumors abound about this issue and Twitter and Facebook have opened up whole new avenues of asking for trouble.

The timeline is interesting. As Gilmore points out, Schoen and Corning being outed at about the same time, makes it a bipartisan issue and should be solved in a bipartisan manner.

But look at the party responses. DFL Senators are in a one vote minority. Each Senator is something they cannot afford to lose - yet, the calls for resignation from DFL Senate and Party officials was swift and immediate for Schoen - and for Cornish when it happened a little later. But on the Republican side, condemnation of Schoen was immediate, but when the R was involved there was this unusual parsing of words and shifting positions. Daudt acknowledged there was a problem but seemed unwilling to commit to any action. After a day or two of fidgeting, he decided to have an outside body handle it so he could wash his hands of it politically.

Gilmore gives an interesting take on GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan's response....

"Carnahan needlessly exposed the Republican Party of Minnesota to charges of hypocrisy in calling for Schoen to resign but not Cornish. When challenged she went silent, except to leave the state to write gibberish on the sand beaches of California while celebrating her birthday. You know that person who uses exclamation points too much, as in all the time? That's her.

Unfortunately, Carnahan is the embodiment of low level management types: full of unwarranted self confidence but manifestly without the talent to be promoted. Her incompetent leadership, tone deaf messaging and abominable press releases have given many observers cause for concern in the upcoming election cycle."

It really was a one sided response and coming from a woman, it seemed all the more hypocritical. Carnahan's public comments were woeful and very unfulfilling as a guide to any kind of remedy.

Gilmore also argues that Schoen's physical actions were more egregious than Cornish's sexual innuendos; but both of these men have a checkered history in this regard which will probably keep this story going for awhile. And which could lead to other revelations -- because you know they are not alone in this regard.

I remember when Melissa Hortman publicly stated her disdain for her "reluctance" ......"to break up the 100 percent white male card game in the retiring room." An obvious reference to ignoring and dismissing the conversations being made by women legislators on the House floor ...especially women of color.

That was a symptom of the much bigger problem of sexual harassment.

Women have not, for a long time, been taking seriously as legislators; even though by and large they get a lot more things done for their constituents than any male representative. This is not just a Minnesota thing, it is nationwide and in the Halls of Congress. It is difficult for them to get elected, it is difficult for them to be heard, and it is difficult for them to advance. The glass ceiling may have cracked but it is still intact.

One more point I'd like to make here. I do not believe that it is an accident that both Schoen and Cornish come out of law enforcement. As we have seen with the Black Lives Matter protest, officers of the law expect different treatment. They are so accustomed to deference in their job that they tend to expect it in every other avenue of life they pursue. I'm sure that Schoen and Cornish were surprised to be called out on their behavior. They are not used to be questioned about things they do - and as we generally see, they get too much benefit of the doubt on the job.

There are many aspects of this that should be examined. And I think the call for a Task Force on Sexual Harassment is a great place to start. If both Republicans and Democrats are serious about addressing this issue, then the Task Force should get support from everyone.

Maybe even Jennifer Carnahan can agree on that.
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