Of Political Parties and their Partying Members

There is a diverse and in combination uncomfortable assortment of things which can be and have been said about Al Franken's resignation.

The US is again going through that sordidly cyclical, not to say cynical, moment where it re-re-discovers yet again and for the very first time that sexual harassment and sexual assault of the vulnerable by the powerful are a problem worthy of a bit more than a "man that's fucked up" before resuming dinner. It is heartening at the very least that politicians in the Democratic party in particular can be made credibly to fear that the things offensively euphemized as “sexual misconduct” might come with “consequences.” It is neither surprising nor heartening to read so many people — whose possession of eyes, a brain and a functioning internet connection deprives them of any excuse short of pity — tacitly implying or stating outright that the Democratic party has any kind of “moral high ground” on matters like this. Higher moral aspirations, just maybe. But moral high ground? Hang on just a cotton-pickin' minute.

My experience has been that among those cheering Al Franken's resignation there are many — mostly men I note — who get annoyed or even a bit paroxysmal if you mention in passing that other beloved ones have nasty closet skeletons. Not just Trump or other loathables.

Trump’s past sexual violence is as obvious, shameless and flamboyantly nasty as everything else about him. It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read much about his pre-political life. But Justice for Victims is as much a cynical ploy as it is a mawkish cliché.

The charges, or "allegations" as we are supposed to call them when politicians are involved, brought by aggrieved women against Trump are almost certainly true based on the available facts. But this is not the only reason, or the main reason, why they are so readily believed and broadcast by so many of the cogs in a Democratic Party machine which would disgrace Rube Goldberg only by its disrepair. They are unabashed and comfortable believing them and calling for legal action (at which I hope they succeed,  by the way) because it's good for the team with which they ally themselves and whose guiding interests they allow themselves to see as mostly consonant with their own. Anyone who has taken Psych 101 can tell you why that alone makes something easier to believe.

Unlike the fact, say, that the woman who lost a presidential race against Trump is married to a serial rapist to whose predations she spent years as both accessory and accomplice. Back in the day many of the same individuals leapt to the defense of their party's Member in the Oval Office. No matter how many non-consenting women that Member may or may not have thrust itself at or into.

Modern PR has the frightening power to grace hideous people with its greatest triumph: the transcendent success of having one's words and actions judged by one's reputation, rather than the reverse. Give a man a reputation as an early riser, as Twain wrote, and that man can sleep till noon. But the news cycle, given enough money, manipulation and time, gives the impression of being able to turn the most suppurating Philoctetes into Achilles in any but the most hardened and hostile mind. This is a whole other cause for concern in an era when figuring out for oneself what to believe and disbelieve in any story has become so challenging that many people can be forgiven if they give up trying. Be thankful, at least, that Trump himself hasn't the ability or restraint to manipulate it nearly as effectively as a far more self-disciplined ogre might have.

Rapist Bill and Accomplice Hillary enjoyed nigh-unassailable status for some time with their party, particularly its elders, and the name Clinton was for almost a decade touted as a byword and synonym for all that our tarnished excuse for a republic is supposed to stand for. In many ways, Clinton's America made Trump's America possible. As people both on the left and the right pointed out more and more of the nasty rot underneath, as the list of women groped, bitten, forced open, shamed, slandered and bullied by the party's most prominent Member got credibly longer, the party-line glorifications got louder, as did the denunciations of those guilty of inconvenient honesty. Even when they were attacking Clinton from the left, they were bashed as snitches and right-wing ratfinks. Why doesn't this kind of thing put more people on their guard in our ailing nation? I almost wish I didn't want to know.

I myself and a good many others, when we pointed out the considerable evidence of Hillary Clinton's complicity in his crimes during her recent end-run for president, got accused of doing the "work of the right." When a person says that there is something deeply wrong with a country in which voters are faced with a choice between a Serial Rapist and a Serial Rapist's willing accomplice, anyone whose response is "the real problem is people like you pointing this out" is in fact confirming the broader implications of the original charge. Gotcha politics of the kind in which a few embarrassing statements in the past are dredged up as ammunition are par for the sordid course, and everyone more or less accepts this whether they realize it or not. But willingness to be an accessory to violence against other people, and an accomplice in concealing same, simply out of self-interest is a bit more than that. That this sort of thing could be tolerated at all by a political party, which brands itself as standing for women and for the powerless wronged by the powerful, is unshakably a sign of corruption in the broadest sense of the word.

Moral High Ground? Democrats? Please. Pfft. 

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