Franken’s resignation, and Dems' new 'purity,' is a political stunt

Franken’s resignation, and Dems' new 'purity,' is a political stunt
© Getty

Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenHirono electrifies left as Trump antagonist Miss USA pageant winner celebrated for addressing 'Me Too' movement on stage NY man sentenced to prison for racist death threats to Obama, Waters MORE’s (D-Minn.) speech Wednesday on the Senate floor, in which he vowed to resign “in the coming weeks,” created more questions than it answered.

Why didn’t Franken resign on the spot? Why didn’t he apologize or express even a little remorse for his actions? Why walk away from the seat if, as he said, he still thought the Senate ethics committee was the right venue to adjudicate his case?

And what are we to make of this situation? Not to be cynical, but Democrats forcing Franken out is hardly a profile in political courage. In fact, it was an easy call. They lose nothing politically. They are not in power in Washington, D.C., and Mark Dayton, the Democratic governor of Minnesota, will appoint one of his own party — most likely Lt. Gov. Tina Smith — to the seat until a special election is held.

ADVERTISEMENT
In reality, this is nothing more than a political stunt designed to make the GOP look bad and to make Roy Moore, the Republican running for Senate from Alabama, the “hood ornament” of the GOP heading into the 2018 midterms, should Moore prevail in the Dec. 12 special election.

This, and the forced resignation of octogenarian Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersReparations: The 'lost cause' of black politics? Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Reparations bill wins new momentum in Congress MORE, D-Mich., represent Democrats’ attempt to clear out alleged bad actors so it can resurrect its “war on women” theme in coming campaigns — this time around the issue of sexual harassment. It won’t be easy — the dizzying pace of sexual harassment scandals has rocked both parties with no end in sight.

It also is an attempt to create a precedent that all politicians accused of sexual misconduct of any kind must resign, that, of course, Democrats want to apply to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE in the 2020 campaign or before.

Unfortunately for Democrats, this attempt to clean the pipes is off to a rough start. Rep. Ruben KihuenRuben Jesus KihuenMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Nevada Dem sanctioned for sexual misconduct announces city council bid Dem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 MORE, D-Nev., not only has decided to dig in his heels and not resign in the face of sexual assault allegations, he has claimed Democratic leaders knew of his alleged transgressions before he got to Washington.

As for Moore, it would have been better if he had resigned when accusers came forward, but President Trump’s last-minute decision to support him was a smart calculation given the circumstances. Alabama voters deserve to be the ones to make this decision, and Republicans really and truly need the seat.

Since 1945, Republicans have controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress for a total of seven years (1953-1954, 2003-2006, 2017), and given where the Democrats stand on issues ranging from job creation to illegal immigration to welfare reform, Republicans would be foolish to squander this opportunity given their slim majority in the Senate (52-48) and the possibility they could lose the House in 2018.

Unless Moore can somehow prove his innocence in coming days, the best course for Republicans would be for Moore to win the Senate seat, the Senate to vote as quickly as possible to expel him and for Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, to appoint a replacement.

Sexual harassment is real. The pain in the faces and voices of the women coming forward now is real. America needs to have this conversation in Hollywood, on Capitol Hill and in workplaces across the country.

And it is interesting that Franken, a darling of the left, is not apparently all that valuable among colleagues for him to be dispatched to the wood chipper in this way.

But make no mistake: Democrats have not found virtue on this. Their alleged new-found puritanical stance does not comport with their decades of silence, particularly when it came to former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonDe Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' WANTED: A Republican with courage Democratic leaders' impeachment tightrope MORE's indiscretions.

This is mostly about a quick and easy power grab at a time when they find themselves on the outside looking in.

Ford O'Connell is the chairman of CivicForumPAC, worked on John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPelosi receives John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Romney: Trump 'has distanced himself from some of the best qualities of the human character' MSNBC host: Barr 'the most dangerous person' who works for Trump MORE's 2008 presidential campaign, and authored the book "Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery." Follow him on Twitter @FordOConnell.