Friday evening's Fox News programming was filled with right-wing pundits discussing the foul behavior of elected officials who use their power over women. They weren't talking about the president of the United States, however. They were talking about Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). Their "what-aboutism" gave them an opportunity to call those on the left hypocrites for working for women's rights, passing the Violence Against Women Act and shining a light on things like campus sexual assault and consent.
The brazen attempt to say that somehow Republicans and Democrats were the same because both Republicans and Democrats have both acted inappropriately is laughable at best and revolting at worst.
As we speak, Republican Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos is working to undermine the efforts set in place by President Barack Obama's administration to create safer campuses and reduce the increasing numbers of sexual assault while students are in school.
A full 22 Republicans voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013, including Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was quick to condemn Franken and signed up to help with Sen. Amy Klobuchar's (D-MN) bill to make it easier and safer to report harassment on Capitol Hill.
“The process they have to go through is ridiculous and works against the interest of the victim,” Grassley said. “I think you’ve got to assume everyone is innocent until they are proven guilty, but right now it looks pretty ridiculous for the victim.”
That's an interesting comment coming from Grassley, given the fact that he voted against victims in 2013 when VAWA came up for reauthorization. He was also one of the 52 Senators who voted to confirm Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. McConnell not only voted against the VAWA, he supported Thomas as well.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) called the news about Franken "disturbing." He also refused to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and voted to confirm Justice Thomas.
"I have confidence that the coming ethics investigation will be thorough and complete, providing us the necessary direction for what should happen next for Sen. Franken," Hatch said in a statement.
Curious given Hatch's defense of former Sen. Bob Packwood (R-OR), a disgraced legislator who wrote thousands of pages calling women a “cute little blonde thing” and “a very sexy woman” whose breasts stood “at attention." He also went into detail about her hips. The two shared some wine and had sex on the rug of his Senate office, he wrote.
Packwood wrote that there were “22 staff members I’d made love to and probably 75 others I’ve had a passionate relationship with.” It's unclear if that was the reason he was such an advocate for women, despite being a Republican. Yet, when it came time for Hatch to give Packwood the Franken treatment.
“I believe in redemption,” Hatch said in 2015, a full 20 years after Packwood was forced to resign. “I believe that you don’t judge people for mistakes in the past, you judge them for what they are doing today and frankly he did a terrific job of working on tax reform.”
At the same time, Republicans have been quick to criticize Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) for settling a sexual harassment suit for nearly $28,000, they're neglecting to mention the rest of the $15 million in settlements that have been handed out from sexual harassment. Fox News should probably hold their tongue, because some GOP names are about to come up that are just as bad or worse. After all there were settlements at nearly $4 million in 2002 and over $4 million in 2007.
While Republicans hurriedly jumped to criticize former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), who's now serving 21 months for sexting with a minor, they covered up for former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL). He was ultimately outed by a Capitol Page after at least three of his fellow pages received sexually explicit instant messages with Foley in 2001 and 2002. They were high school juniors and seniors and some were minors. Instead of getting rid of members who couldn't stop sexually harassing teenagers, Congress disbanded the page program in 2011, saying it was too costly and technology made pages redundant.
"The messages weren’t flirtatious -- though some started that way -- but out and out lewd," wrote former page Zack Stanton. "Two of those recipients continued to receive them well after their time in the page program had elapsed, extending into our college years. Many of us who were pages at the time knew that the conversations had taken place. Some of us even shared copies of the message logs among ourselves. But how the conversations went public, and who gave them to reporters and started the avalanche that ended Foley’s career and dealt a blow to the Republican congressional majority, has never come out."
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) lied about when he learned of the scandal. He then told former Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) that the problem "had been taken care of," according to his testimony in the ethics investigation. Hastert was ultimately thrown in prison for a decades-old scandal involving his hush money for sexual abuse to high school students while he was a teacher.
While Republicans seem to be wallowing in the mud that they're eager to throw at Democrats -- they should probably consider cleaning their own houses. In fact, they should start with the White House. At the very least, if they claim to be averse to sexual harassment and sexual misconduct they should consider supporting legislation that protect victims and survivors.