We can now clearly see what Republican members of Congress are really made of. Any regular reader of this column already knows my low opinion of just about every member of Congress from the Republican side of the aisle, but the recent flurry of sexual harassment claims has created a new dynamic.
On Dec. 7, Democratic Sen. Al Franken announced he will resign from the Senate this year after several women came forward with claims that he had “groped” them. Franken became the second high profile Democratic to resign recently following the resignation of Michigan representative and civil rights icon, John Conyers.
Franken and Conyers both resigned in part because of pressure from Democratic colleagues. In Franken’s case, 35 Democratic senators, including 16 of 19 female Democratic senators, called for his resignation. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wrote on Facebook that Franken was entitled to complete the voluntary Senate Ethics Committee review, but “it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve.”
In contrast, President Trump, no stranger to allegations of sexual assaults, and an admitted female genital grabber, announced he would completely support Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore despite the fact that nine women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct.
The Republican National Committee, which had initially withdrawn support for Moore, announced Dec. 4 it would start funding his campaign again. Even Mitch “the Switch” McConnell, who originally called for Moore to step aside, announced Dec. 3 he would “let the people of Alabama make the call.”
If this all sounds familiar — well it should be. After the Access Hollywood tape was aired, numerous Republicans, including Mike Pence, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, condemned Trump’s remarks as offensive. The RNC started to withdraw financial support and many Republicans called for Mike Pence to replace Trump.
Then the election got closer, Trump refused to back down, and the Republican Party jumped back on their nominee’s bandwagon because, of course, even a sexual predator trumps a Democrat any time. Which is why the Republican about face for Roy Moore comes as no surprise.
A common refrain among many Americans these days is that there is no real difference between the two parties and all politicians are corrupt either financially, spiritually or both. Yet when faced with evidence of inappropriate conduct Democrats stepped forward and demanded the resignation of not one but two of the most influential Democratic elected officials in the country.
On the other hand faced with the choice of losing a tiny fraction of their tenuous hold on the Senate, or supporting an accused sexual predator, Republicans once again doubled down on the predator. Obviously to Republicans in Washington massive tax cuts for the wealthy, border walls and gun rights are worth putting up with an accused sexual predator or two. The question remaining to be answered is whether American voters will agree.
Editor’s note: Neil Baron’s column was inadvertently omitted from Monday’s edition.