By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS – It’s wrong regardless of who does it.
Groping a woman against her will or without her knowledge is wrong whether a Republican or a Democrat does it. The same goes for pressuring her to have sex if she doesn’t want to or trying to force oneself on her.
John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com
It doesn’t matter if it’s Al Franken, Roy Moore, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump or any other politician – Republican or Democrat – who does it.
Why is that so hard for some people to grasp?
Ever since the news broke that Moore, the Republican candidate for Alabama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat, allegedly groped, harassed and molested teenage girls – at least one below the age of consent – when he was a district attorney in his 30s and I started writing columns about him, I’ve received a series of “what-about” messages.
What about Bill Clinton?
What about Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic congressman from New York?
And, now, what about Al Franken, a Democratic U.S. senator from Minnesota?
Clinton was accused of accosting several women and, in one case, allegedly raping a woman long before he became president. His partisans like to point out that many of the women who accused him received financial payments for their stories from his political opponents, but the reality is that at the very least – as I’ve written before – what Clinton did was wrong.
He used his power to coerce women into having sex with him.
That’s part of the reason he became only the second president in American history to be impeached and the second to be formally censured. He also joined Richard Nixon in the dubious company of former presidents who were disbarred from practicing law.
Perhaps he wasn’t punished enough for his transgressions, but he was punished.
And it’s a good thing he was, because he did wrong.
Weiner now is serving a prison sentence for transmitting obscene material to a minor. Prison is the right place for him, because he, too, did wrong.
Franken kissed a broadcaster against her will and groped her breasts while she slept when both toured for USO 11 years ago. He’s apologized – sort of – and said the photo of him groping the woman was meant to be funny.
(Sen. Franken, here’s a helpful tip: Sexual assault is never a joke. It’s a crime.)
There may be other women who will come forward with stories about Franken. He’s facing an ethics investigation within the Senate. If it reveals other assaults on decency and he’s expelled from the Senate, that won’t break my heart. Should his fellow senators decide to toss him because of this incident by itself, I won’t lose sleep.
Because I don’t believe a man who assaults women has a place in public office.
This brings us back to Roy Moore, who is accused of trying to force a young girl’s face into his lap and then threatening her if she talked, and Donald Trump, who has boasted while on microphone about grabbing women by the groin without their consent.
If you think the issue here is that these guys are Republicans rather than Democrats – well, then, I just have to wonder who raised you.
Do you not have wives, daughters, mothers and sisters? Is that the way you would want them treated?
My objection to Moore’s candidacy isn’t that he’s a Republican. It is that overwhelming evidence suggests he attacked children.
Such a man does not belong in the U.S. Senate.
If the people of Alabama send a Republican, a Democrat or leprechaun instead of him, I really don’t care.
Just so long as they don’t send someone who’s likely preyed on kids.
As for President Trump, I don’t think his conduct merits removal from office – largely because setting aside the results of a national election only ought to be done under extraordinary circumstances – but it wouldn’t displease me to see his behavior condemned as Clinton’s was.
Because this isn’t about party labels or who controls which branch of the federal government.
It’s about making certain that all people are treated decently.
It’s about ensuring that the women in our country – in our lives – aren’t attacked like pieces of meat by powerful men who behave no better than rabid dogs.
It’s about what’s right.
And what’s wrong.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.