A liberal journalist named Tina Dupuy is calling out Democrats who continue to defend Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), by sharing her own tale of how Franken groped her at a party that Media Matters threw to celebrate Barack Obama’s first inauguration back in 2009.
In an article at The Atlantic, Dupuy describes how she saw Franken at the party and asked him for a photograph because her foster mother was a big fan. That’s when Franken groped her, a moment she describes with anger and humiliation:
She loves Franken, so I asked to get a picture with him. We posed for the shot. He immediately put his hand on my waist, grabbing a handful of flesh. I froze. Then he squeezed. At least twice.
I’d been married for two years at the time; I don’t let my husband touch me like that in public because I believe it diminishes me as a professional woman. Al Franken’s familiarity was inappropriate and unwanted. It was also quick; he knew exactly what he was doing.
It shrunk me. It’s like I was no longer a person, only ornamental. It said, “You don’t matter—and I do.” He wanted to cop a feel and he demonstrated he didn’t need my permission.
A growing number of Democrats have called on Franken to resign from the Senate, but that wasn’t the initial reaction, as Dupuy notes, describing comments from other liberals like radio host Randi Rhodes, comedian Chelsea Handler, and Franken’s former Saturday Night Live colleagues, who all rushed to defend him by essentially saying that he hadn’t harassed them so they were sure he wasn’t a sexual predator.
Similar defenses had been offered by Lena Dunham when one of the writers on her show Girls, Murray Miller, was accused of rape, and by countless Democrats regarding former President Bill Clinton.
Besides, these liberal defenders of predators argued, even if these guys are super creepy, they vote the right way on “our issues” and that helps women’s rights.
This, Dupuy rightly points out, is a heaping pile of bovine excrement:
Really? If Democrats demonstrate our party’s solidarity with harassed and abused women something bad will happen to women’s rights? Are you kidding me? Is that why there is a slush fund on Capitol Hill to settle sexual-harassment claims with taxpayer dollars—because of feminism?
I heard this argument in private, too. It’s about protecting power and asking the victims to understand the larger goal of (maybe) protecting them sometime soon. This calculation was more reasonable in the 1980s. Now it seems like a Faustian bargain that’s doomed women’s ascension to real power: Boys will be boys and girls will be quiet.
I have a radical idea: Maybe Democrats can replace politicians who harass and abuse women with anyone other than an abuser. There are good men in the world. I married one. I’ve worked with many more. Do we really believe our talent pool will dry up and our caucus will be nonexistent once we kick out all the creepers? I don’t. What if protecting men who harass and abuse women isn’t actually good for women?
Maybe, just maybe, it’s only good for the men.
It’s fair to point out the tardiness of Democrats recognizing their own hypocrisy after literally spending decades defending Bill Clinton, but the reality is that they do seem to be making a tangible effort now to purge from their ranks those who have preyed on women.
But is this just a cynical ploy to sacrifice a Senator Franken here and there to make it easier for Democrats to hit Republicans for Roy Moore?
So what if it is?
Both Franken and Moore have multiple women offering on the record accusations showing a pattern of predatory behavior.
If the Democrats are finding it politically expedient to throw Franken under the bus for what are objectively less serious accusations (Franken is not accused of any conduct involving underage women or attempted rape like Moore is), maybe the question should be, why aren’t Republicans? If you wanted to create a narrative that Republicans don’t care about women, the RNC resuming funding for Moore’s campaign certainly helps.
Regarding the senators turning on Franken: yes, it's late and calculated. Here's what they have going for them: "better late than never" is a more credible argument when examples of the "never" are still demonstrably going on, like with Moore.
— FaintGlimmerofHopehat (@Popehat) December 6, 2017
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.