Michael Maiello's picture

    When You're Adorable to Deplorables

    Our friend Josh has been making the point that public revelations of predatory behavior only matter to people and entities who have to serve constituencies that care about such things. This seems an obvious point. The bachelor party at Scores is not going to get worked up about people objectifying the dancers, at least not on that particular night.  It does mean, however, that the political/social consequences of engaging in such behavior will differ more based on who you are or what you serve than what you did.

    Bill O'Reilly could get away with being Bill O'Reilly until he became a liability to Fox.  Roy Moore might get elected to the senate even as Al Franken is pushed out because Franken's voters care and Moore's don't. Trump lives a life without consequences because the kind of people who really like Trump like to see him get away with things.  Trump said as much during the campaign and he knew it because it was the basis of his popularity on The Apprentice and even before that.

    Before Josh pointed this out, Hillary Clinton made the argument.  How do you do deal with deplorables who take pride in being deplorable? Long-term, I think the Roy Moore's of the world are going to lose the cultural argument. But right now, the cultural right is letting their fascist flag fly. The extremism that was the anti-Clinton 90s militia movement that became the Tea Party, is now a right wing version of hippies -- an immoral majority that is, in fact, a minority, but that wields considerable influence where it (sometimes) counts.

    There's no real kicker to this except to say that things are going to be weird.



    Going to be?????

    We ain't even half way there yet.

    We are seeing why Democrats are losers. Pure, very pure, "high road" losers. 

    Yet in the cut throat battles with anything goes, antidemocratic, pack the courts and disenfranchise the voters Republicans, never, ever pure enough for some.

    A Party that doesn't fight for its own but does the opposition job for them is destined for impotence and irrelevance. Americans don't want purity, they want politicians who will fight for them against an opposition which would destroy them, their health care, their communities, their schools and their nation to win.

    On Franken, recall, he asked the question that caused Sessions to recuse himself, that led to Mueller being appointed. So all the Democrat women, and now Schumer, want him to resign and not fight or wait out the ethics process and get to the facts.

    Comments from NYT:

    Bad behavior is equal to predation? There is no gray area, no rehabilitation, no apology suffices? This is extremism of the worst kind. I’m shocked that my senator and women I’ve long admired have revealed themselves to be either so simplistic or so politically craven.

    Where is the line between a dumb prank like the USO tour photo -- wrong, offensive, not funny -- and child molestation and other forms of actual sexual assault?  To me, there's a world of difference between the behavior of Al Franken and the likes of Donald Trump, Roy Moore or even, not to be partisan, Anthony Wiener.

    Repeated polls show about 70% of folks in his home state do not want him to resign. He should let that be his guide, not the desires of his colleagues trying to make a statement.

    "In recent days, the Democratic women senators had spoken privately among themselves about the situation, agreeing that they could not tolerate Franken’s presence as allegations continued trickling out."

    Guess what? I could tolerate him. So could millions of others. And least until the investigation was concluded. Whether these senators could manage to should not be the overriding factor here.

    Franken has acknowledged, and apologized for, poor behavior and welcomed an Ethics Committee investigation. When he could not place himself in someone's account, he acknowledged the validity of an accuser's feelings. And he is being asked to leave.
    People like Trump and Moore, who reject any responsibility for predatory conduct, grandstand about their own supposed character and disparage their accusers, face no consequences.

    If the Democrats cave so easily on Franken, without even a thorough investigation and with anonymous accusers, they are a toothless opposition Party.

    Meanwhile in a Trump hotel, Clarence Thomas's wife  gives an award for "Defending Liberty" to James O'Keefe, head of Koch funded Project Veritas, which was just caught hiring a woman to try to sting the Washington Post with lies about her "abortion after teenage sex with Roy Moore."

    Unless they grow a spine Democrats will always be eaten alive by the GOP.  The break any rule, support any hideous candidate or policy, tell lies and more lies, refuse compromise, demonize and attack the opposition, and claim the high ground while standing neck deep in plutocrat $lime Party.


    Gold embossed pubic hair on a coke can? I'm sure James was touched with his Defending Puberty medal. Glad there's a party for people who never grow up.

    I agree with every word, NCD.  I am hoping that in his speech to the Senate today he has the courage to soldier on and buck this show-boating.  Who knew a waist was an erogenous zone?  NOBODY, that’s who.

    Democrats are cowards and holier-than thou purists.  Even with the shit-storm that the country is enduring, the GOP will probably keep its seats to power.  They don’t even have to work at it.  The Dems wil make all the effort on their behalf.

    The Democrats form a circular firing squad, as the Republicans rape and pillage the city.

    Uh, Minnesota voters aren't asking Franken to resign - I think he has 70% backing - it's other Congressfolk.

    Good point. Though in some ways any senator’s constituency has to include their caucus. I think Gillibrand’s getting played, though.

    Well, no, it doesn't include their caucus. They might be more effective that way, but Bernie for example represented people in his district in Vermont, not the Democratic Party.

    hey, Al Franken could go independent. Though then they'd remove him from committees, and no one else seems to be fighting GOP overreach as hard as him, maybe Liz Warren, but I think he covers more bases (no pun intended)

    Gillibrand is promoting herself, and she has presidential ambitions. She has been a flop in questioning Trump nominees, and Franken was a standout, playing "the woman who will clean up all that sex stuff in America" is her gig, Franken a convenient target.

    Ironic if Moore is elected, Dems then return to attacking Bill Clinton while they work alongside Roy Moore, "sending a message?".....Dem style?

    They are gutless.

    You can already count on me to never ever vote for Gillibrand for any office.

    I think she and Corey Booker will be toast.

    Apparently any touching is now officially unwanted and predatory behavior.


    So it appears that one key part of the Democratic party's base does care, and cares a lot, to see D elected officials forced out over what Franken is known to have done.  On this analysis is "the problem" not with that abstraction or conglomeration aka "the Democratic party", coming in for a drubbing in this thread, but with parts of its base (activist women, especially, fed up over this sort of stuff?) which insist on what they view as higher standards of personal conduct?  

    Gillebrand wouldn't have pitched without a catcher.  Are the Democrats the Democrats without that catcher?  

    I try to imagine a FTF conversation between Josh and, say, Bob Kuttner (who also feels the Democrats are allowing themselves to be played over the Franken matter), on the one hand, and Sen. Gillebrand, on the other, and how that might go.  I suppose if you are someone for whom there is nothing more important than highly visible public shaming and consequences for powerful men who engage in acts which are disrespectful to women, the price may be worth paying.  Josh and Kuttner are among those with many other, what they view as bigger, fish to fry.  Is this an argument about anything other than differing priorities, rather than the merits and foolishness of purity, or commitment to certain causes, as you prefer?

    Should the Democratic party during the 1960's have opted to cede the South to Republicans as a consequence of winning the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts?  It was no "purist" who made that call--it was Johnson.  One part of his constituency felt that civil rights for people of color was worth the price.  Other parts of the party's constituency strongly disagreed that it was a price worth paying.  I'm sure that many who felt passionately about other causes the Democrats might otherwise have been able to get wins on, were it not for the hits the party took over civil rights, felt that the party's purity on civil rights caused it to go off the ledge in a fit of misguided un-pragmatism. 

    The above may be thought a poor analogy.  Yet for many women who have had to suffer harassment and worse and see it go unreported and unpunished for their entire lives, just now might understandably be viewed as an extremely rare and surely fleeting historical moment when this issue is on the public and media radar screen.  Cultural norms could be influenced, depending on choices that are made about how these matters will be handled.    

    I am dismayed about the prospect of losing Franken.  But I also don't see this matter as an inexplicable case of off the rails purist Democrats once again making the obviously bad and dumb call, either.



    As a political matter I don't care at all that Franken was pushed out. He was a good senator that I liked but I was never a fan. I thought the talk of Franken running for president was ridiculous. With his gravelly monotone delivery he would have been a terrible campaigner and his past as a ribald comedian would have hurt him on the national level with it's hyper intense scrutiny in ways that a state run didn't. His replacement will be a democrat as good or better.

    The problem I have is a lack of nuance in the discussion and no acknowledgement of the complexity of sexual harassment. There are differences between the behavior of Weinstein, Lauer, Trump, GHW Bush, Moore, Franken etc. It's not black and white with one punishment that fits all.

    I agree with you on the lack of nuance.  Is this what Matt Damon is currently being pilloried for saying on SM, or is there something else behind this?  At times it feels to me as though there is so much anger in the air at this time that comments not heard as unequivocal validation are readily met, by some, with dismissal or contempt.  Some of those responding to Damon seem to be saying something not more complicated, or much more so, than: You're a man, you don't and can't get it, so STF up.  I've certainly observed parallel dynamics in the context of discussions involving race.

    I haven't paid much attention to the Damon story. Actors are very good at pretending to be someone they are not and at sincerely repeating the words writers write for them. While they get a lot of attention when they speak on issues they usually haven't deeply studied them and rarely have anything interesting to add to the conversation. I guess I'll look into what Damon said as it seems to be getting a lot of views.

    While the majority of  victims of sexually inappropriate behavior are women and the frequency and severity of the behavior is usually greater for women there are many men who have experiences of this  too and can speak from that experience. Long before this metoo movement I posted about being groped by a much older man while drunk at a high school party when I was 16. I don't much want to talk about it and no other man added their metoo but I have little doubt there are more men reading here that have had similar experiences. I think the number of men who could add their names to the metoo movement are greater than most think.

    At any rate 'You're a man stfu' isn't a useful response in this discussion. If we're going to work out new rules for male/female behavior, and I think we need to, a much more nuanced discussion needs to take place.

    I think Damon wasn't thrilled to be speaking about it, but when asked needed to say something, and so gave a rather comprehensive nuanced-enough answer. And then got pilloried for being whatever, white, male, privileged, Hollywood, .... In the Twittersphere whether you speak or not, a large group will be pissed at you. I got my first Twitter block recently for offering my opinion on one of these celebrity things. A new coming-of-age moment.

    Well, it's nice to see that the people of Alabama didn't choose the child molester.

    I think Josh misses the real point. He just reduces a complex interplay into the simplistic caricature that plays into his long-promoted confirmation biases. The whole "Republicans are from Mars Democrats are from Venus" genre is kind of wearing thin as far as trenchancy goes.

    When looking at group reactions to allegations, who is raising an accusation (or seeking to benefit from it) is often more important than the essence of an accusation itself. If the person making an accusation is seen as an enemy, that perceptions heavily influences how the allegations are received and interpreted. This is pretty consistent between both Democrats and Republicans (or any other group in competition). Something that makes an enemy *this* mad can't be all bad, right?

    Marshall is also disingenuous on another level. If we're being honest, John Conyers has gotten away with being "Bill O'Reilly" for decades ... right up until the moment Democrats saw benefit from making a clear contrast with Roy Moore and jumping on the #metoo bandwagon. That's also the only reason Franken resigned rather than weathering it out. A clear majority of voters in Franken's state wanted him to stay ... it was pressure from the Democratic power structure that drove him from office, not populists anger from a "less deplorable" citizenry at home.

    But before the last month came along, Democrats had a *very* tolerant policy of coddling abusers and harassers. There's no way top leadership didn't know what was going on. They allocated tens of thousands of dollars buying off Conyers' victims. Left to their own devices Democrats are every bit as happy to sweep anything under the rug that Republicans will.

    So, honestly, isn't pretending like there is a significant moral-core difference along the lines you/Josh/Hillary are proposing kind of absurd? It's all just blatant political posturing.

    With Harvey Weinstein, we had/have a pretty tightly defined "outrageous work related harassment up to criminal assault rape" as our focus, including Rose McGowan raped and Mira Sorvino/Ashley Judd being blackballed for not giving out. This was core despicable & career-destroying behavior - something Ailes & O'Reilly knew a lot about, as it seems Conyers and Congress in general did (though obviously the opportunity for false claims is huge there).

    Instead, the Democrats helped the GOP shape shift this into some kind of behavior litmus test that only Democrats would really care about and try to adhere to. No, Franken's case didn't fit the others, and his resigning *HURT* the #metoo movement by turning it into an unfair witchhunt rather than an obvious problem over rapt silence in the face of glaring over-the-top illegal and habitual harassing behavior *ON THE JOB*. This came *after* the Fox News awful payouts & support for O'Reilly before things came crashing down, but once the meme took, spread quickly to obvious similar zones of massive continual abuse, including media & Congress and various business situations.

    Yes, the internet has shown we can PC shame people into resigning and shutting up and paying money and a variety of things, whether guilty or not. But we didn't need another round of social discussion on Men are from Mars, Women from Venus - it's "keep your dick & erotic comments in your pocket at work and let/help me do my job". ["at work" for actors having an obvious extended meaning]. Of course rape & sexual assault in general might seem like easy add-ons in seriousness, but the big point was to protest the silence and inability to speak out and be taken seriously. Even the "women must be believed" thing handicapped this movement, as we all know enough woman liars to make that obvious bullshit - but the idea that women complaining about say Bill Cosby would have some serious outlets for investigation and recourse, rather than a career-killing retaliation is the proper way to address it.

    Franken got none of this - he wasn't retaliating against anyone, he hadn't been accused of harassing anyone under his power, and the Leeann Tweeden bit was just so horridly over-the-top, spun and twisted, and hypocritical that it quickly became the example of *how not to take this issue seriously*, and just make women seem loopy, slutty and untrustworthy. Franken's resignation seems as much "pull my finger" as Bernie trying to accept a Trump debate offer around the California primary - he got played, bad, and it doesn't help us at all. The chutzpah that a rank lying despicable crazy like Michelle Bachmann would then think of running for his seat adds insult to grave injury. His muddying the waters even makes it easier to bring up Bill & Monica again, because we're no longer in the territory of obvious manipulative exploitation of power, and back into these petty moral false equivalencies that the right has built its brand on these last 30 years. Well played, all - we suck.

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