In the most predictable move since Kylo Ren stabbed Han Solo, Democrats have turned from forcing Senator Al Franken (D-MN) off a political cliff to pressuring President Trump to step down from office. After weeks of shilly-shallying over Franken and after decades of making excuses for sexual predators ranging from Ted Kennedy to Bill Clinton, Democrats have seen the light just in time to call for Trump to abandon the Oval Office. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have all called for Trump to resign.
The rationale: if Franken had to leave for allegedly grabbing women against their will, then Trump should have to do so for the same. After all, women have alleged that he kissed them against their will, groped them, and even raped them (Ivana Trump alleged and then retracted this).
So, when should politicians resign?
There are five possibilities:
1. Never. This is the most consistent position. If you’re running, if you’ve been elected, if you’re thinking about running — never resign. Let them pull you from office after a criminal conviction. Due process and the presumption of innocence require a system where you don’t lose your job over allegations, no matter how credible or widespread.
2. When They’re About To Be Convicted Of Something. This is one step down from “never”: you only resign when you’re about to go to prison or be impeached. This is the Richard Nixon strategy: you hold on until the last possible moment, and then you let go. Again, this has the benefit of consistency, but it means that a lot of awful people slip through the cracks.
3. Before An Election. The idea here would be that the public should not have to be forced into the position of voting for a potential criminal or sicko. This would apply to Roy Moore: now Republican voters have been forced into a position of picking between a credibly accused molester and a hard-core pro-abortion Democrat.
4. When New Information Arises About Something Horrible They Did, Post-Election. It’s after an election, but we’ve now found out something we didn’t know during the election. This is what happened to Al Franken — nobody knew that he’d engaged in sexual abuse. Now we know. And Franken and Democrats supposedly don’t want voters to have to choose between Franken for re-election and a Republican.
5. When They Have Done Something Horrible At All. This is the standard that would have to apply for Democrats to oust Trump. He hasn’t been convicted of a crime; he’s not about to be convicted of a crime; he’s post-election, and the public knew about all of these allegations before. The benefit of this standard would be a cleaner, gentler politics; the downside is that (a) it will never happen and (b) it would overrule the public on questions they’ve already been polled upon. Franken and Trump aren’t similarly situated; Franken’s information broke now, not before his election.
So, pick your standard, and then stand by it. The media’s attempts to press new life into Trump’s accusers in order to re-litigate an election that already ended are obvious bias, not news. And Trump has denied all allegations, so he’s not resigning in any case. Democrats know that, and they’re not interested in Trump resigning — they just want to club Trump about the ears. That’s their prerogative. But this is cynical posturing, not a serious new standard, and everyone knows it.