Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey, film director James Toback, comedian Louis C.K., Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore, longtime U.S. Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, U.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, veteran broadcast journalist and TV host Charlie Rose, Fox News egoist Bill O’Reilly, comedy icon Bill Cosby, and President Donald J. Trump.
These are names on the list of high-profile individuals who have been recently accused of sexual misconduct and the list seems to be growing with new revelations every single day. Sexual misconduct is not and should not ever be acceptable today or in any society or period of time.
However, just like any other inappropriate behavior there are gradations of severity and heinousness and all should not necessarily be painted with the same broad brush. The penalty should fit the crime.
The individuals on that list who have been part of the moviemaking or media industries seem to have been dealt with to a degree by losing their positions on production companies, television shows, movies or financial backers. Whether they face criminal charges remain to be seen. Of particular concern to me are those in the political arena and how the handling of these cases will impact our political institutions now and well into the future.
There is equal justice under the law and, whether Republican or Democrat, the rules should be the same for addressing sexual misconduct. However, as I have already said, the penalties should fit the crimes and not all sexual misconduct rises to the same levels of depravity. No false equivalencies, please.
Both Congressman Conyers and Senator Franken called for the Congressional Ethics Committees to review their cases and it is hoped and expected that appropriate sanctions will be imposed after the review is completed.
The case of senatorial candidate and former judge Roy Moore is a bit different since he is not yet in Congress. That distinction of course, is not the only distinction. Judge Moore is accused of having had inappropriate sexual behavior with girls as young as 14 years old. Donald J. Trump has decided to support Moore’s candidacy because, as Trump points out, “he totally denies it.”
I will remind The Donald that Pete Rose, Lance Armstrong and a whole list of others also totally denied allegations of wrongdoing until such time that they didn’t. I will also point out that Moore didn’t fully deny the accusations since he did admit that he asked permission from the mother.
Does anyone ever ask permission to date a young girl who has reached the age of consent? I think not.
I think the reason for Trump deciding to support Moore’s candidacy is twofold. One, he has no qualms about placing party above morals. Second, he has no morals and sees similarities in the number of accusers of Moore and the number of accusers of himself. It would be a bit hypocritical even for Trump to try to distinguish the credibility of the numerous Moore accusers from the credibility of the numerous Trump accusers.
So now let’s turn more specifically to the situation of Minnesota Senator and former comedy writer Al Franken. His behavior also seems inappropriate but does not rise to the level of child molestation and must be viewed within that context.
For one, the inappropriate behavior Franken is accused of occurred on a USO tour in 2006. USO tours are designed to entertain our troops and the history of USO tours seems to focus on the risque. Remember how legendary comedian Bob Hope used to parade out the likes of Elke Sommer, Raquel Welch, Joey Heatherton and all Miss Americas as well as the double entendres that accompanied them? I do.
Did Franken take it a step too far? Maybe. That is for the Ethics Committee to determine and to arrive at a penalty that fits the crime.
As for the other accusers such as the woman who had a photo taken of her at a State Fair by her husband? I really can’t seem to come to terms with what the level of mischief could have possibly been, but those, too, will be determined through the Ethics Committee review.
So where does that bring us? It brings us to you thinking that I am defending Democrats and condemning Republicans and that would be wrong.
Here is a head-turner for my far right readers (there are some). I believe that President William Jefferson Clinton should have stepped down from the presidency prior to subjecting the nation to an impeachment hearing during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Granted, I did not feel this way back in 1999. Back then I believed that the issue with “that woman, Ms. Lewinsky” was a personal issue and did not negatively impact Clinton’s ability to be an outstanding president as evidenced by his (with the help of Bob Rubin and Lawrence Summers) bringing us out of the inflation-ridden Reagan years and handing over a balanced budget to incoming President George W. Bush.
I, however, was wrong.
Clinton should have resigned the presidency because the most important position in the world must have standards and Clinton’s actions lowered those standards paving the way for a president without any standards, Donald J. Trump.
If the President of the United States doesn’t show respect for the office of president then it is difficult to expect others to demonstrate respect. Just because an opportunity, as in the case of Ms. Lewinsky, presented itself does not mean the President of the United States must avail himself of that opportunity. The President of the United States is and must be above easy enticements.
By Clinton not stepping down in honor of and out of respect for the high office of president, he, in essence, paved the way for a president who dismisses all protocols he does not particularly like.
I honestly thought Trump would never run for president because he would never reveal his tax returns which would likely show that he is not worth nearly as much as he brags to be. I was wrong. He found a way to do both by simply not following past precedent. The same can be said about not divesting himself of his financial holdings as all previous presidents were required to do.
If he does not like a rule he simply ignores that rule. Rules are for others, not for him. Standards, it’s all about standards and there should be no higher standards than for the presidency of the United States. Once one standard is violated, it becomes quite a bit easier for others to topple as well and lay the path for a Trump presidency.
One more point on Clinton resigning. If he had resigned, incumbent President Al Gore would have likely won the 2000 presidential election. A Gore presidency would have meant that the balanced budget handed over to Bush would not have been decimated by two unfunded wars and an unfunded tax break for the ultra-wealthy.
Yes, George Bailey, what a “Wonderful Life” it could have been!