The Franken connection [with comment by Paul]

This question really should be for Senator Franken. His buddies at the Congressional Black Caucus want to know. They wonder why the formerly iconic John Conyers has to go — but not you.

As a man who fancies himself a humorist, perhaps Franken can see the amusement a detached observer might take at finding him in this particular pickle. In any event, having given it a lot of thought over the weekend, he surely must have the answer by now. Run it by us. Or send your consultants over to lend Conyers a hand in regaining the trust of his colleagues and constituents. It’s the least you can do.

For Franken to be lumped in with Conyers by those whom he consider his political friends and allies must be a great indignity. I hope he will persist. My view is that the Democrats deserve Franken. So he lost track of his hands on occasion in crowded and chaotic situations. Live with it.

We do not want Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to name a replacement and wipe the slate clean. We really don’t. And in the meantime we can take pleasure in any torment the members of the Congressional Black Caucus cause him.

PAUL ADDS: There is poetic justice in Franken being subjected to the race card in the form of suggestions of disparate treatment founded on a specious comparison. Conyers’ attorney says his client has been accused of sexual harassment by three or four people, while Franken has been accused by five. “At the end of the day,” he adds, “Nancy Pelosi is going to have to explain what is the discernible difference between Al Franken and John Conyers.” The message, of course, is that white Democratic leaders are applying a double standard — one for blacks, one for whites.

I don’t mind helping Pelosi just this once. The difference, discernible to anyone of average intelligence, is that Conyers is accused of demanding sexual favors from subordinates during decades of mistreating females on his staff. Franken groped and indeterminate number of women.

Both sets of behavior are serious offenses. But for reasons that should be obvious, sexual harassment law regards demanding sexual favors from subordinates and persistently harassing them as more egregious than the occasional groping of people who are not part of the workplace (it’s true, however, that Franken had a brief “workplace” connection with Ms. Tweeden before he was in the Senate). So do I.

I’m not taking a position here on whether Franken should resign. I’m just saying that sexual misconduct covers a lot of territory (so to speak). Conyers and Franken both engaged in it, but their offenses differ materially.

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