Toughen up, Republicans!


A Republican insider giving advice to Democrats…are you going to trust him? Bruce Bartlett thinks Democrats need to toughen up, because we shouldn’t have asked for Franken’s resignation.

I’m torn about it, too — he was a good senator. But he was also flawed, and I’m glad that the issue of sexual harassment has become an important topic within the party I best identify with (but don’t wholly agree with, by a long shot).

However, can we just tell Republicans giving such advice to simply fuck off? Until they have enough fiber to repudiate the scumbags, who are far, far worse than Franken, I don’t think any of them have the privilege to give anyone advice. When you’re strong enough to strip your support from Roy Moore, and when you’ve got the moral integrity to reject King Asshole who’s occupying the presidency, then maybe your advice will be worth listening to.

Comments

  1. Chet Murthy says

    Uh, I think Bruce *was* a R, and though he might identify himself as an R these days, his public pronouncements for many years have clearly put him outside their camp. (We’re all entitled to an opinion *grin* and) I think it’s unfair to characterize him as an R in any sense that’s similar to current Rs who support their party.

    If I had to describe him, I’d say “former R, current Dem, who’s woke”.

    But maybe I’ve missed some of his more conservative writings.

    All that said, Franken’s resignation is a matter of strategy & tactics, and I *agree* with you, that on those, it was the right call to resign. I -do- think he should insist on an investigation (though he might not, and that in itself might be evidence that he’s got a troubling past …..)

  2. doubtthat says

    Even in the few short weeks between the allegations and the resignation, we already had Conway and the elder Huckabee saying very clearly, “Why should Moore or Trump go if Franken didn’t have to go?”

    I think we all watched as the allegations against Trump were immediately met with whatabout Bill Clinton, and honestly, as whataboutisms go, that wasn’t the most egregious. Dude was obviously a predator.

    Democrats/liberals/progressives will benefit in the long run by making this choice very, very clear. The harassment allegations against Trump were a motivating factor for women voting for Democrats. This is an issue that needs complete, total clarity.

    And of course the Republican is concern trolling.

  3. davidnangle says

    I’m torn, all the way down to the atomic, indivisible scale where the question is, “Do my representatives need to be perfectly law-abiding citizens?”

    And I still can’t choose. Even though I probably have never met a perfectly law-abiding citizen.

  4. rpjohnston says

    Re your twitter conversation with Stonekettle, in which you said:

    OK, they do have their domains of expertise.

    It’s just that I can’t imagine wanting to do what they do.

    I can, easily, in pursuit of liberal values, of course. As an autistic person pretty much my whole life’s arc has been studying what other people and learning to imitate them by confining it within the parameters I understand. If I see my enemy using a tactic effectively, then I’ll figure out how it works and how it can be turned against them to facilitate my goals.

    A couple years ago you wouldn’t have seen me throwing around words like “patriot” and “red-blooded American” and so on, but now I do. There’s no reason to let THEM claim words like that, or “Life” and “Family” and so on. WE are Americans, who love OUR country and OUR people – all colors of them – and will take back America to make OUR country a shining beacon of liberty. We will not abide the anti-family Right Wing attacking our families. We condemn the troop-hating Republicans and will protect our troops, both those currently serving and veterans, from Republican attacks. And so on.

    Hijack their tactics, and you can attack their stranglehold on minds. Plus, believe me, Lefties are as human as Righties and will often be influenced by similar tactics – we all want to feel protected, for instance.

  5. says

    @1, Chet,

    I think I’m going to largely agree with PZ. Reading the first part of the article and then skimming the middle and end, Bartlett’s argument seems to assume that Republicans are now generally terrible and are going to be terrible. Though he may now identify as “independent,” and notes as much in the article, he also leaves an impression that Republicans were not so terrible in the 80’s:

    The problem is that unscrupulous people or those with poor judgment sometimes get control of your party and lead otherwise good and honest people down the wrong path.

    That has happened to the Republican Party, my former party and also the former party of a growing number of my friends from the days when I worked for Jack Kemp, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

    I read that and find myself asking, “It wasn’t poor judgement to elect Ronald Reagan?!? How the fuck was he qualified to be POTUS?!?” Granted, I was born during the Reagan administration, so this was a bit before my time and I have a huge advantage of hindsight. It does seem to me, though, that Bartlett really needs to take some time for self-reflection before going about lecturing others. As one might put it, the train had already left the station by that time to get to where it is today. If he doesn’t even realize this yet today, then I’m going to doubt his judgement. That said, I’m not familiar with his other writings, so I’m judging him on just this one alone.

    Otherwise, I disagree with Bartlett when he claims, “This is not only wrong but politically stupid. Democrats now have no defense against completely bogus charges ginned up by nefarious right-wing characters such as James O’Keefe, who has already tried once to manufacture a phony sex scandal.” I’ve seen some Democrats worried about this, too, but I’m not as concerned. That’s largely because the Franken charges were not bogus…at least not all of them. But, yes, Democrats will need to be careful regarding this. I would hope that, since we know about the likes of O’Keefe, we have become more cautious and are more demanding of solid evidence before reacting to claims.

  6. Helen Huntingdon says

    Is Franken resigning? I’m not sure he is.

    He’s tried several rounds of stalling already, fauxpologies, wafflespeak, pretending contrition by picking his own punishment (“I’ll submit to this thing that will take forever and not do anything to me anyway! What a great guy I am!”), more wafflespeak, etc. Now he’s saying he’ll resign at some unspecified date, but everyone against him is wrong and he is right.

    Sounds like more lying bullshit stalling to me. I’m not sure he has ever had any intention of actually resigning.

  7. doubtthat says

    Well, honestly, as important as his resigning is, I find it defensible for him to wait until Congress is in recess to (1) give time for a replacement and (2) hopefully sink the tax bill.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    Bruce Bartlett started off as a Republican in a big way during Reagan but was atypical in being open to facts.
    After Reagan he contributed to the debate writing various books. If memory serves, it was the Dubya years and the beginning of the great recession that made him reconsider the whole conservative world-view.
    As he critizised conservative talking points, he apparently got labelled an apostate- he has certainly not found many listerners among his former friends.

  9. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    davidnangle @3:

    “Do my representatives need to be perfectly law-abiding citizens?”

    There are some things I don’t have a problem with. But (and this is one hell of a big one) if a person treats other people as things, not as human beings, but as things, whether or not a law has actually been broken, that is, for me, the dividing line. Franken treated other human beings as things — things to provide him pleasure. He did the right thing. And I hope this continues.

    And yes, I have adopted this from Terry Pratchett:

    “…And that’s what your holy men discuss, is it?” [asked Granny Weatherwax.]
    “Not usually. There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment on the nature of sin. for example.” [answered Mightily Oats.]
    “And what do they think? Against it, are they?”
    “It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.”
    “Nope.”
    “Pardon?”
    “There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
    “It’s a lot more complicated than that–”
    “No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”
    “Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes–”
    “But they starts with thinking about people as things…”
    –from Carpe Jugulum, by Terry Pratchett.

  10. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    And yes, Moore and Trump are ALL about treating people like things.

  11. colinday says

    #5
    @Leo Buzalsky

    “It wasn’t poor judgement to elect Ronald Reagan?!? How the fuck was he qualified to be POTUS?!?”

    To be fair, Reagan had been governor of California for eight years.

  12. dhabecker says

    It’s good that Senator Franken has decided to go. Just think of how many feels will not be copped or kisses sloppily applied with him out of the senate.
    We need to be tough like Trump who has the strength and balls to call Senator Hillibrand a whore. What leadership, what a man, what am I saying; he’s a fucking disgusting pig and Franken’s move allows the Democrats to call him out. Trouble is, he never listens.

  13. Artor says

    I saw this as a self-serving suggestion. “Hey, you guys should make a smelly court case over Franken, but pay no attention to Moore, because he hasn’t been convicted.’

  14. pontavedra says

    PZ: Serious question here. I am curious as to your take on the quality of the accusations against Franken.

    His first and most significant accuser turns out to be a Fox News / Sean Hannity guest whose announcement was known by right-wing dirty-tricks artist Roger Stone before it was released. She released a photo of Franken reaching for her chest, but then claimed he “groped” her while she was sleeping—not evidenced in the least (unless you think Franken was so idiotic he would pose while doing it, or that she would not have awoken to actual groping). Her claim about forced kissing is contradicted by witnesses on the scene (the military escorts).

    Since then, most of the accusers have been anonymous, making it difficult if not impossible to verify that they do not have bias or ulterior motive to accuse. Accusations *must* be taken seriously and not dismissed out of hand, but should they be taken as 100% true even when anonymous or when the accuser is clearly biased and has a weak case?

    How much does the massive history of past injustice nullify due process in the her-and-now?

  15. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Accusations *must* be taken seriously and not dismissed out of hand, but should they be taken as 100% true even when anonymous or when the accuser is clearly biased and has a weak case?

    You sound like like a misogynist asshole JAQing off. Why don’t you do your own dirty work and report back to us. You prove your allegation.

  16. says

    Abuse of authority and power. I have a hatred of our political parties and any other social structure propping that up. The Democrats could be so much more but the torture and whistle blower abuse alone leaves me with no urge to speak positively about them.

    I’m satisfied that Franken is resigning. Now role-model the shit out of that. No matter how things go with Moore he’s a social target, keep showing the Republicans what they did to the people Moore hurt. If they are socially isolated communities maybe we should go to them with information. Quoting Trump’s pussy-grabbing to my parents has been useful from time to time.

  17. pontavedra says

    Nerd: Wrong: I’m a lifelong liberal. By “allegation,” do you refer to Tweeden’s accusations? You think Tweeden’s case is 100% rock solid? I stated the case above. No chance of bias or dirty tricks? Explain. Mind you, I do *not* hold as significant her behavior during the tour (ass-grabbing and the like) nor her past (Hooters, Playboy, etc.)—neither are relevant in the least. Only her specific allegations against Franken (especially where they are contradicted by eyewitnesses) and her rather clear likelihood of political bias and her likely association with Roger Stone or those who work with/for him. To question these is not “misogynist.”

    We find ourselves in a place where more than a dozen women can come out in the open and make very specific and believable accusations against Donald Trump, and he becomes president and apparently immune from even so much as an Ethics investigation; more than a dozen women can come out in the open and make very specific and believable accusations against Roy Moore, and he is very likely to win an election to the Senate and be seated by Senate Republicans.

    A right-winger clearly working with a right-wing dirty-tricks artist comes out with questionable claims against Franken, followed by mostly anonymous claims after that, and Franken is forced to resign. Show me the symmetry in that.

    As for my question about due process, it is entirely valid. We have to take claims seriously, but to what extent is a claim to be believed simply because it is a claim—especially when there is an active reason to doubt? I think that’s a key question—not one I am trying to answer either way but instead am trying to find what PZ and others might think about it. I would like to hear what anyone feels regarding how the entire situation should be handled, in the specifics.

  18. says

    Due process is inside the courts or analogous body, this is a comment be section on the internet.

    If due process matters here it does so on the same level between accuser band accused. I don’t recall people being this concerned with the due process of victims. This seems more balanced than it was before at least. I don’t think the paranoid people have any moral force to their fear. Why should I care for a part of society that cares not in the other case?

  19. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    >

    As for my question about due process, it is entirely valid.

    Sorry liar and bullshitter, I personally don’t have to do due process. ONLY THE JUDICIAL MUST DO DUE PROCESS.
    If you lie about that, what else will you lie about. Everything….

  20. John Morales says

    pontavedra:

    A right-winger clearly working with a right-wing dirty-tricks artist comes out with questionable claims against Franken, followed by mostly anonymous claims after that, and Franken is forced to resign. Show me the symmetry in that.

    Interesting how you appeal to fairness yet advocate being amoral for pragmatic purposes.

    And, in relation to morality, one side can now point to the evident hypocrisy of the other on this moral issue, and they’re protected against a counter-accusation by this action. Sure, they will need to keep doing it for it to keep working, and sure, the hypocrisy won’t matter to true Trump supporters (but then, nothing will).

  21. mikehuben says

    @pontavedra (#16)

    How much does the massive history of past injustice nullify due process in the her-and-now?

    You can tell that’s a good question because the haters have descended upon you. “You appeal to fairness yet advocate being amoral for pragmatic purposes”, “I have a hatred of our political parties and any other social structure propping that up”, and “You sound like like a misogynist asshole JAQing off.” Don’t pay attention to the haters. They’re much like pro-lifers screaming “baby murderer” at you.

    The same people who complain that ACORN was treated unfairly in the court of public opinion want to treat Franken that way. Volatile public opinion is a very poor substitute for due process. Neither gives perfect results, and nobody should be compelled to not have their opinion. But we have due process for a reason, and that reason applies in court and in the Senate and many other places. Adversarial due process produces large amounts of evidence that we hope is biased towards what actually happened.

  22. John Morales says

    Yeah, about due process. I noticed in the news that a cop who fucking filmed himself trying to humiliate an innocent man, who made him crawl and who then shot him in cold blood with an automatic weapon was acquitted, and where the police chief said the killer should have never been charged.

    But hey, due process!

    (It’s like a magic incantation)

  23. pontavedra says

    Regarding due process, I was referring to the due process of the Senate, but point taken on constitutional grounds. If not legal due process, how about simple ethics?

    What I refer to is the fact that a person has had their career destroyed by one accusation with legitimate doubts regarding bias and accuracy, mostly because it was followed up by a list of other accusations that are anonymous and therefore completely unverifiable. There is the case of that one Hillary supporter who—jokingly or not—asked if 8 others could join her in accusing Sanders of inappropriate behavior so as to force him out. I mention that in regards to the fact that there *can* be question regarding accusations, even if great care is taken to give accusers full respect in all regards.

    Again, Tweeden is a Fox News / Sean Hannity guest with a history of smearing liberals; her report of forced kissing was contradicted by a third party who was present; she released the information into right-wing circles before going public, with dirty-tricks artist Roger Stone leaking it early. At the very least there are questions.

    As for the Democratic ability to now point the finger at Trump and Moore now that they have dealt with Franken, it is an empty ability which will not matter where it counts. In fact, Republicans will simply point to Franken as somehow *worse* than Trump or Moore based on the fact that he had to resign.

    Nerd of Redhead, I know what you vitriol will be ahead of time. Give it a rest.

  24. Vivec says

    Looking for due process in the American justice system is like trying to find hay in a needlestack – painful and not worth the effort.

  25. logicalcat says

    Here is what would happen with due process and ethic committee hearing. A democrat, who is a presidential hopeful, being tried for anything no matter will be stretched out by republicans. Stretch it the fuck out for several years with hearing after hearing after hearing, and every single one of those hearings would erode the public’s trust on that politician until when it is time for him or her’s to run for office it will be used against him or her. I hope by now this all sounds familiar to you. Cant see the future, but since it has happened before its not hard to imagine it. Franken’s political career is over regardless. At least by backing down he might still be able to run for president, although that’s a long shot.

    @Pontavedra

    I’m a lifelong liberal.

    And? Doesn’t mean you are not misogynistic. To be clear I am not calling you that. I’m just saying. Liberals can be assholes too and nobody cares if you are a lifelong one or not. People are going to be mean to you here. And from years lurking Ive noticed that the ones who later reveal themselves as bigots, tend to start the conversation in similar manner that you have done, and then they later progressed to some ranting asshole. I myself have wondered the credibility of these accusations myself. It would be extremely easy for the right to abuse it. Especially when a good candidate like Hillary was dragged through the mud last election with right wing propaganda that even struck the cord of some leftists. The photo wasn’t even the thing that sold me on Franken stepping down. It was the forced tongue down the throat.

  26. logicalcat says

    @Pontavedra
    I didn’t see your last comment when I wrote mine. What third party contradicts the events?

  27. pontavedra says

    Logicalcat:

    Thanks. Re: the misogyny comments, that was not you, that was someone else.

    I wish I had a better source, but like all the info that casts doubt on the Franken/Tweeden incident (e.g., Fox News guest, political ties, Roger Stone) a lot has gone unreported. This is what I could find now:

    http://whatmattersnews.com/?p=5603

    That leads to Twitter posts by someone who claims he was the military escort. As far as I know, no one followed up on that either—which is my problem with this. When it came to Moore (GREAT news on the election just now, btw!), the WaPo published a thoroughly researched article and did a fantastic job. When it came to Franken, everyone, including the media, seemed to just say, “Well, there he goes, too bad.” That’s the problem; there should be at least some investigation. Any accuser should be taken seriously, but is it right to destroy a person’s career or reputation when the accusations appear biased or are anonymous? ABSOLUTELY the victims have rights, and we have a horrible history of disregarding women in such cases. However, that does not mean the person being accused has none. In Franken’s case, the accusations may be totally correct and he should go. But I would like to preclude the possibility of a dirty-tricks campaign to demolish a leader in the Senate and give cover to people like Trump and Moore.

  28. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    However, that does not mean the person being accused has none.

    Outside of official hearings, like a court or legislative committee, the person being accused doesn’t have “rights”. I can believe either the accuser or accused, and since my opinion has no penalties attached to said opinion, it doesn’t mean anything except to me and those that listen to me.
    One tecnique the misogynists have used since elevatorgate to muddy the waters, is your “due process” bullshit. Which is why don’t believe your claims. I need to see third party evidence to back your claims. I don’t expect you have any.

  29. vucodlak says

    @ pontavedra

    If he’s innocent, and it’s clear he isn’t, then why is he resigning? If there’s nothing to these complaints, then why not let them be investigated? I have no faith in our system of laws for most people, but for a rich and powerful senator? He has a pretty good chance of beating the charges, especially if they’re false.

    The problem with your argument is that he’s already admitted that Tweeden is telling the truth. Sure, he said “I remember it differently,” but what is he going to say? “Yeah, I totally assaulted her,” or something else guaranteed to end his career (which he was trying to salvage at the time)?

    It doesn’t matter that some of the women accusing him may be lying (though I doubt that’s the case) as he’s claimed. He’s already admitted to harassing and assaulting others. Yes, he claims that he “remembered the incidents differently,” but again, so what? That’s pure CYA behavior.

    Look, you can dress your argument up in whatever philosophical trappings you like, but the argument that you’re actually making is “we shouldn’t trust these women because women are liars.” He’s admitted to wrongdoing, there’s a photo of him leering and groping one the very woman you’re saying is untrustworthy, and you’re here saying “but how can we trust them!?”

    Why? What is it that makes them untrustworthy? Your argument about Tweeden is already stone-dead, for the reasons I laid out. So why should we believe these other people are all lying?

  30. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Re @32
    This is not a simple case to discuss. Franken is taking a bullet to highlight taking women’s word as fact, as they have been so long dismissed and ignored and considered lies. Franken recognizes that his pranks were also symptomaticbof the default misogyny of our culture that needs to be eradicated as well. He didn’t fall into the stereotype defensiveness of typical abusers, despite being falsely accused of predation for a stupid prank. I know we always dismiss “intention” as invalid argument, and for this I am locked into considering intention as an overriding factor in these sexual assault cases. Meaning, Franken was not assaulting in order to prey he was jamming it up for laughs. He does not want to use that for an excuse in order to highlight respecting women more than pranks.
    To say Tweeden spoke up to humiliate Franken for political ends is fact and must not be generalized to calling all women accusers as liars.

  31. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    And, in relation to morality, one side can now point to the evident hypocrisy of the other on this moral issue, and they’re protected against a counter-accusation by this action.

    If the massive asymmetry wasn’t persuasive before why would this push it over the edge?

  32. says

    pontavedra

    You think Tweeden’s case is 100% rock solid?

    You know, there is this picture. It is pretty irrelevant whether he actually touched her or not. He demonstrated a full range of abuses in that pic. What you’re doing is the exact same thing Republicans are doing when they are trying to shame and discredit victims.
    Is it possible that Tweeden only brought this up because it was a convenient opportunity to get at a political enemy? Sure.
    Who handed her the ammunition? Franken.

    Mind you, I do *not* hold as significant her behavior during the tour (ass-grabbing and the like) nor her past (Hooters, Playboy, etc.)—neither are relevant in the least.

    Which is why you totally need to bring it up here.

    Show me the symmetry in that.

    So some men should get away with groping because others also do?

    davidnagle

    I’m torn, all the way down to the atomic, indivisible scale where the question is, “Do my representatives need to be perfectly law-abiding citizens?”

    It’s always nice to see men think that sexually assaulting women is something that can somehow happen, a small mistake that we could all make, like a parking ir speeding ticket, or being generous with yourself when claiming expenses.
    Totally tells you where in the moral universe I as a woman feature.

  33. John Morales says

    Azkyroth @34, you know I did not make that claim. I was noting that there is an opportunity cost for either case — neither is all downside — and specified a salient aspect.

    (For example, who knows what deterrence effect this course of action holds for the future?)

  34. birgerjohansson says

    The defeat of Roy Moore shows that in high-profile cases, having the moral high ground *does* make a difference.
    Unless the Republicans completely overhaul their attitudes (Ha ha ha!) in the year leading up to the mid-term elections, they will be going down in flames as the sleaze party.

  35. Helen Huntingdon says

    What’s most surreal to me about the Franken mess is that the more I read the arguments of his defenders, the more they wind up making him sound like Trump.

    For example, we have the evidence piling up (including some from his defenders) that Franken sloppily kisses women without consent and has been doing so for many a long year, using his celebrity status to assume he can get away with it. Just like Trump admitted to doing.

    Or the argument that Franken’s love of yukking it up about sexual assault being soooooooo funny is somehow okay because he’s a famous guy performing for an audience when he does that. Well, the exact same thing is true about Trump bragging about sexual assault, so if your goal is to make Franken sound as much like Trump as possible, by all means keep on with that line of argument.

  36. Onamission5 says

    Re: the “it was a prank” argument @33:

    It would be a whole lot easier to accept that the photo was just a prank if it wasn’t preceded, per Tweeden, by Franken writing a script in which the much younger and less powerful female performer had to kiss him, insisting they practice the script in private then jamming his tongue into her mouth even though she demonstrated reluctance with the kissing scene, and then publicly retaliating for the remainder of the tour after she privately rebuked him for sticking his tongue in her mouth.

    You know what that reads like to me? That reads like a brogressive thinking he gets to treat a woman badly because she’s not on his political team and knowing he can get away with gaslighting her because the initial offense took place in private so if she reacts to the public taunting she’ll appear to be overreacting and humorless. What it doesn’t read like? A prank.

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