Al Franken fails his own litmus test on 'judgment'

Al Franken fails his own litmus test on 'judgment'
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Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenFormer campaign aide to New Jersey governor says she was sexually assaulted by his ex-staffer Prosecutor drops some charges against Harvey Weinstein Poll: Dems maintain double-digit leads in Minnesota Senate races MORE once thought the photograph of him apparently groping the breast of a sleeping woman was hilarious. Now, he doesn’t. What changed? The photograph used to humiliate her, now it humiliates him. It exposes a man who wields morality as a weapon against judicial nominees. Since President Trump took office, Franken has made a name for himself by “grilling” nominees during their confirmation hearings. Moral grandstanding has become his brand.

Now, thanks to Leeann Tweeden sharing her #MeToo story about Franken, the Senator from Minnesota has lost his veneer of moral superiority. His self-righteousness — once on constant display — now has a Gone Fishin’ sign hanging from it. What will his brand be now that his personal ethos is crumbled up in the dumpster behind the Capitol Building? Franken without that apparent self-righteousness is like Sheriff Woody without a cowboy hat. Like MaGyver without a paper clip. Like Veto Corleone walking around making people offers they’re welcome to refuse.

At Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing, Franken sat in front of a man with an impeccable record of conduct. A man who clerked for Justice Kennedy and spent years as a U.S. Circuit Court judge. A man who had been nominated to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. Franken sat in front of Gorsuch and, citing the “Frozen Trucker case,” lectured him about the law like Franken was Andy Griffith sitting Opie on his knee for a little talk, “Now, Ope, I ‘spect you already know why I’m getting’ ornery with you.”

Here’s what Senator Franken had to say about Gorsuch’s opinion in one of the 3,000 cases he’s decided: “That’s absurd. Now, I had a career in identifying absurdity. And I know it when I see it. And it makes me question your judgment.”

Then, he voted against Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court. Presumably because he was so worried about Neil Gorsuch’s “judgment.”

He barked at Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearing, “I question your judgment!” and condescendingly told her that “the root word of judgment is judge.”

Last June, during John Bush’s confirmation hearing, Franken explained, “One of the qualities I look for in a judge is judgment.” He described his responsibility as using his own judgment to evaluate the judgment of judicial nominees.

In hearing after hearing, Franken has sat, face resting on fist, lecturing conservative judges for what he deems “bad judgment.”

Jump cut to today. Freeze frame on the now infamous photograph of a grinning Franken apparently assaulting a sleeping woman. Read her describe his alleged behavior:

“He came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth. I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time. I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth. I felt disgusted and violated.”

And her describe her reaction to discovering the photo:

“I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep. I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?”

Franken has made a habit of accusing Trump judicial nominees of having poor judgment seemingly because they disagree with his political opinions, but it's clearly Franken’s judgment that's lacking. No matter how much the media shakes their pom-poms every time he launches into one of his confirmation hearing morality plays, that much is clear.

He’ll almost certainly remain in the Senate — a 2/3 supermajority is nearly unattainable and the nature of his offense doesn't make him eligible for a recall under Minnesota law — but he should immediately step down from the Judiciary Committee. He doesn’t meet the standards of his own “good judgment” litmus test. He has grossly misrepresented himself as a man of sound judgment when he is clearly anything but.

Eddie Zipperer is assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College.  He is a contributor at The Hill, The Daily Caller, and Lifezette.  His work has also appeared in The Baltimore Sun, The Las Vegas Review Journal, Fox News, and Real Clear Politics.  Follow him on Twitter @eddiezipperer.