Sen. Mazie Hirono wants Sen. Al Franken to Set An Example
Sen. Mazie Hirono wants Sen. Al Franken to "Set An Example"

Originally posted at the ungodly hour of 5 AM.

Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI) reiterated her call for fellow Democrat Sen. Al Franken (MN) to resign from the U.S. Senate last night on the Rachel Maddow Show last night.

Three things...

1. When Sen. Hirono said, "When the third, fourth, fifth, sixth woman steps forward, you come to what I would describe as a tipping point and the need to take a position," I couldn't help but recall the long list of Seattle pols who waited until after a fifth accuser had stepped forward before calling on Mayor Ed Murray to resign. The accusations against Murray were far more serious than those against Franken, of course, but there are echoes of the Murray scandal here. Locals politicians — like our new mayor — who waited until the fifth accusation to call on Murray to resign came in for heavy criticism. Yesterday Democratic senators were being praised for calling on Franken to resign after his eighth accuser stepped forward. So what's the math here? Do we divide the number of accusers by the seriousness of the accusations before determining how many accusers it takes to reach the tipping point?

2. When asked if she expects Franken to resign today (Franken is making a statement this morning and may have already resigned by the time you read this), Sen. Hirono said, "I hope he'll do the right thing and step aside. We can't force him to resign, but I think so many of us have called upon him to set an example. I think we should be held to a standard."

Ezra Klein also called on Democrats to hold themselves to a higher standard and set a good example...

Unlike the Democratic senators who called on Franken to resign yesterday, at least Klein paired his call for Franken to resign with a demand for Trump to resign as well. Good on him. But I'm suspicious of the utility — not the morality — of Democrats holding themselves to higher standards than Republicans hold themselves to or are held to by the media. As I attempted to articulate during my convo with Sydney Brownstone and Eli Sanders on this week's Blabbermouth, I'm totally with Sydney (and Mazie and Ezra) on the morality — politicians who abuse or assault women and girls (or men and boys) should have to resign — but I worry about the consequences if only Democrats are held to this standard. Republicans are in Washington for the raw exercise of power — Merrick Garland, the tax bill, this insane and insanely hypocritical gun bill, etc., etc. — but Democrats are there to set a good example and shame Republicans into being better people. Not now, while the world is burning, not right away. Because it won't happen all at once, like Klein says, but, you know, someday. Hopefully before the GOP, which currently controls everything, gets around to destroying everything. Fingers crossed. [shamrock emoji]

Dahlia Lithwick has the same qualms I do and she unpacked them much more eloquently on Slate than I was able to do on Blabbermouth:

Al Franken, many argue, should now resign. He should resign immediately because there are credible accusers (another emerged Wednesday), and because the behavior alleged is sufficiently abhorrent that there is simply no basis to defend him. In this parade of unilateral disarmament, Trump stays, Conyers goes, Moore stays, Franken goes. Is this the principled solution? By every metric I can think of, it’s correct. But it’s also wrong. It’s wrong because we no longer inhabit a closed ethical system, in which morality and norm preservation are their own rewards. We live in a broken and corroded system in which unilateral disarmament is going to destroy the very things we want to preserve....

My own larger concern is that becoming the party of high morality will allow Democrats to live with themselves but that the party is also self-neutering in the face of unprecedented threats, in part to do the right thing and in part to take ammunition away from the right — a maneuver that never seems to work out these days. When Al Franken, who has been a champion for women’s rights in his tenure in the Senate, leaves, what rushes in to fill the space may well be a true feminist. But it may also be another Roy Moore. And there is something deeply naïve, in a game of asymmetrical warfare, and in a moment of unparalleled public misogyny, in assuming that the feminist gets the seat before it happens.

This isn’t a call to become tolerant of awful behavior. It is a call for understanding that Democrats honored the blue slip, and Republicans didn’t. Democrats had hearings over the Affordable Care Act; Republicans had none over the tax bill. Democrats decry predators in the media; Republicans give them their own networks. And what do Democrats have to show for it? There is something almost eerily self-regarding in the notion that the only thing that matters is what Democrats do, without considering what the systemic consequences are for everyone.

Go read the whole thing.


Every Democrat in Washington should be hammering away at this point — and any Democrat who steps in front of a microphone or a camera to call on Franken to resign without also calling on Trump to resign is guilty of political malpractice.

And, finally, if Democrats believe this is the moment to hold powerful men accountable for bad behavior, as Sen. Hirono said last night on Maddow, why did so few Democrats vote to impeach Donald Trump yesterday?

UPDATE: Close, Bernie, but not quite there...

Yesterday Sanders called on Al Franken to resign — not "think about resigning," but do it: resign. So this is nice to see but it falls a bit short. Also, too: Trump isn't capable of thought.

UPDATE 2: This is how it's done...