Young FrankenMoore

Young FrankenMoore


Leonard Zwelling

Dueling offenders. That’s what the latest game in Washington, DC seems to be.

First, we had Roy Moore. He was relieved of his duties as Alabama’s chief justice—twice and then beat the Trump-backed Sessions successor Luther Strange in the GOP primary for the vacant Senate seat. He seemed like a shoo-in to be the next senator from a very red Alabama. Then came the revelations about his penchant for young girls while he was a young district attorney in his thirties. At least five women have come forward. It’s hard to imagine they all made up the similar stories about Moore’s lust for the young when he was younger, but not young.

The only question for everyone is what to do about it.

Moore has decided for himself. He will fight on.

Many of the Senate GOP say they won’t seat him if he is elected, which is still possible. The Democrats were piling on—until…

It seems that liberal stalwart and SNL alumnus Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has a backstory of his own from his younger days as a comedian on the USO circuit. What’s worse is that there is even an incriminating picture and now a report that he may have misbehaved while he was in office. So if the GOP won’t seat Moore, should Franken resign?

This is a real tough one and not just because Franken is a liberal darling and both men were considerably younger, but adults, when they misbehaved. The offenses are not the same although both are deplorable.

If Moore really preyed on young girls when he was in a position of great authority and power, that’s not only sexual misbehavior, it’s abuse of power. A man like that has no business in the US Senate and the GOP caucus of the Senate would do well to keep him out—if it can.

As for Franken, he was not an elected official at the time of his first offense, but may have crossed the line even after he was elected. Apparently he has otherwise been the picture of decorum while in the Senate and he was, after all, in show business when he exhibited his awful comportment initially. My guess is that there will be an ethics investigation and he will be censured. I am unsure that this is enough, but it sounds about right to me. We have all done stupid things when we were our younger selves, but the latest revelation about Franken may call for stronger measures if true.

The real question is when will the next set of shoes drop? (Wait. They did and the sneakers belong to Charlie Rose.)

Representative Jackie Speier knows of other congressional members who are harassers. She should name them and they should be vetted by an ethics investigation and it should be handled as the Franken case will be. If there are more like Moore, let’s hear it.

This appears to be a serious problem and there needs to be a process to deal with it. Innuendo is not it. The press should not be where these issues are vetted and the punishments determined. If Congress cannot police itself, bring in the FBI.

Finally, to think that this is limited to mischief in legislative bodies would be hopelessly naïve. Tolerance for this form of bullying must be zero and every organization should have fair and unbiased ways to address allegations of bullying and sexual harassment that protect the rights of the accuser and the accused.

It is very clear that major institutions of government, commerce, education, journalism, and entertainment have a huge problem with what has been considered acceptable behavior. Over reaction is bad, but so is not paying sufficient heed to what is obvious.

Put the process to deal with this in place and let the cases come as they will. There is really nothing else that can be done. Sensitivity training has clearly failed. Time to bring out the discipline. What that will be may have to be determined on a “case by case basis” as my former boss Dr. Kripke used to say.

This is complicated and getting more so. My guess is that we have not heard or seen the last of these accusers.

In the wonderful Netflix series The Fall, the lead inspector, played by Gillian Anderson says, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” I think the truth of this is becoming more obvious on a daily basis.

Young Franken and Young Moore both made serious errors in judgment and in behavior. Their peers ought to mete out the punishment and both should be subjected to that peer review.

Let’s hope the peers are peerless in their judgments and balanced in their reactions. No matter what your politics, from right to left, it seems all shades of blue and red are being caught up in this dragnet of abuse of power and sexual harassment and all alleged offenders must be treated comparably.

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