Jim Dey: Dems showing measured disapproval on harassment claims

Jim Dey: Dems showing measured disapproval on harassment claims

Congressional Democrats were more than happy to discuss the scandal-plagued U.S. Senate candidacy of former Alabama Judge Roy Moore after he was linked to efforts he made decades ago to date teenage girls.

Although they still spoke out, they were less enthusiastic in their public criticism when Minnesota's Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken found himself charged with groping at least one woman before being elected to the Senate. The former comedian has since been accused of groping another woman after he became a U.S. senator.

But there's another battle stemming from the current sexual-harassment conflagration that's sweeping the nation, one that goes back roughly 20 years and involves former President Bill Clinton.

Last week, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat who holds the same Senate seat once occupied by Hillary Clinton, enraged some of her fellow party members and pleased others when she said President Clinton should have resigned in the aftermath of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

"Yes, I think that is the appropriate response," said Gillibrand, who was interviewed by The New York Times.

Rumored to be interested in seeking her party's 2020 presidential nomination, Gillibrand's surprising words now allow her "to act as the tip of the spear on a position that many Democrats suspect will slowly become more popular in the party," according to Politico.

But however popular Gillibrand will be later, there's no question she's undermining Democratic efforts to disparage Republicans on the Moore issue.

Politico said "Democrats are desperate to keep the focus on accusations against Donald Trump and" Moore, and that her statement "shocked even some of her close allies."

While Democrats are taking — and debating — Gillibrand's words at face value, a common reaction among Republicans is that she's — conveniently and cynically — 20 years late in criticizing President Clinton's conduct and using her newfound club of moral authority primarily against Republicans.

Neither of Illinois' Democratic U.S. senators — Tammy Duckworth or Richard Durbin — have made any comment about Gillibrand's criticism of Bill Clinton. A Durbin spokesman said he is traveling overseas while Duckworth's office did not respond to requests for comments.

Durbin was more forthcoming on the Moore controversy. He issued a statement asserting that "the people of Alabama have the last word, and they have to decide who will represent them" in the Senate.

Moore, who won a three-way GOP primary, faces Democrat Doug Jones in a special Dec. 12 election to fill the vacancy created when Jeff Sessions resigned to become attorney general.

Durbin, however, said "the allegations against Judge Moore are substantial and troubling."

"Luckily, Republican senators and leaders are stepping up and saying, 'This man does not represent us,'" Durbin said.

But Durbin said President Donald Trump "needs to show leadership" on the issue and call for Moore's name "to be taken off the ballot in Alabama."

Moore, who has twice been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to follow rulings of higher courts, has consistently stated he will not abandon his candidacy.

Both Duckworth and Durbin have issued two-sentence statements regarding Franken's conduct involving a fellow performer on a 2006 USO tour. A photograph taken of Franken shows him either groping or preparing to grope a female performer while she is sleeping.

Franken's target, model and television host Leeann Tweeden, also complained that Franken repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to persuade her to rehearse a kiss that was part of a skit they were scheduled to perform.

Duckworth said, "These actions are simply unacceptable and should be reviewed by the Ethics Committee. Women across America should be able to feel safe in their workplace, and they deserve our support when coming forward with allegations of misconduct."

Durbin's statement reads, "There is never an excuse for this behavior — ever. What Sen. Franken did was wrong, and it should be referred to the Ethics Committee for review."

Franken also has asked the Senate Ethics Committee to review his conduct, a move seen in some quarters as an effort to get the story out of the headlines and into the committee's time-consuming review process.

The committee, obviously, has broad authority to investigate, but the alleged incident involving the USO tour occurred well before Franken was elected to the Senate.

The New York Times kicked off the current sexual-harassment frenzy nearly two months ago when it reported that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, a prominent Democratic Party fundraiser, had sexually abused a number of actresses over a number of years.

The Weinstein disclosures prompted a series of complaints from women all over the country, including from some who work with state lawmakers in Springfield.

On Tuesday, CBS fired longtime television host Charlie Rose after he was characterized as a harasser by former female employees. So far, he's the biggest name to fall since Fox News forced Bill O'Reilly out of his role as a show host after he became the target of the same kind of allegations as Rose.

Jim Dey, a member of The News-Gazette staff, can be reached by email at jdey@news-gazette.com or by phone at 217-351-5369.

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GeneralLeePeeved wrote on November 22, 2017 at 7:11 am

Attention, Jim Dey --  Bill Clinton is no longer in office and is not running for any new office.  

 

Attempting to equate Roy Moore with Clinton is a stretch at best and reeks of desperation to find a parable.   If you really wanted a current comparison for good ol' Roy....how about the current Prez?   Funny how your column was silent about all the accusations against Trump.  Remember how he was going to sue all those women?  ....well, we're still waiting for the first case to be filed.....don't hold your breath.

WiltonDiary wrote on November 25, 2017 at 10:11 am

Obviously you need a new source for your news and facts, Jim. 

Roy Moore sexually assualted a 14 year old child.

Donald Judas Trump has been accused by 17 women of sexual assualt and TRUMP has admitted on tape he has indeed assualted many many women, inlcuding young women. The NG had no comment

Anita Hill accused Judge Clarance Thomas of sexual assualt and the NG was silent in 1991.

Bill Clinton paid a huge price for his midconduct and was impeached, however acquitted by the US Senate, and that was 20+ years ago.

This remains about a 31 year old man sexually abusing a 14 year old girl.

Stop trying as usual to muddy the waters.

yates wrote on November 26, 2017 at 8:11 am

Nice try Wilton....Trump never admitted on tape he assulted anybody.... Rotton Roy is accused of his misdeeds and as of yet noboby has found him guilty of anything. And for the record Clinton got away with perjury.

Stop trying as usual to muddy the waters.