Two weeks ago, when it appeared that Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore could cruise to victory despite credible allegations of molestation of a 14-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl, Democrats went all-in on their #MeToo strategy: they decided to dump Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on the side of the road to grab the moral high ground on sexual abuse. Franken reluctantly announced his resignation, all the while indignantly maintaining his innocence.
Then the voters of Alabama cast Moore out into the darkness. And the Democrats have no ability to claim the moral high ground — Moore isn’t around to use as a whipping post. Which means, of course, that top Democrats now want to walk back Franken’s resignation.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) stated, “What they did to Al was atrocious, the Democrats.” He called Democratic attempts to oust Franken, “The most hypocritical thing I’ve ever seen done to a human being — and then have enough guts to sit on the floor, watch him give his speech and go over and hug him? That’s hypocrisy at the highest level I’ve ever seen in my life. Made me sick.”
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), who called for Franken’s ouster, has secretly told Franken he regrets doing so, according to Politico. Two other senators who sided against Franken apparently told Politico the same thing.
Why? Because Democrats aren’t interested in wiping out sexual abuse. They were interested in the political hay to be made by pretending to care about doing so. With Moore out, that possibility is minimized. Now, Democrats could attempt to target President Trump over allegations of sexual abuse, but that strategy has little credibility after Bill Clinton, and it has little capacity to motivate after Trump was elected despite the presence of sexual harassment and abuse allegations. Democrats know that’s going nowhere, so why bother using it as an attack line against Trump?
That’s particularly true given the fine line Democrats now have to walk between opposing Trump and appeasing their base with a counterproductive impeachment move against him. If Democrats continue with the line that alleged sexual abusers must go, they’ll be duty-bound to impeach him come 2018 if they take the House, and top Democrats know that such a strategy will backfire politically. So they’re preemptively walking back their call for sexual abusers and harassers to step down.
All of which proves that there was no moral high ground here, just political high ground. And now some top Democrats think that the political high ground lies again in ignoring moral concerns in favor of power.