Three weeks after volunteering as Democratic Party tribute Hunger-Games-Style, Al Franken has finally relinquished his Senate seat. Operation: Moral High Ground, the Democrats’ transparent plan to claim victory in America’s #metoo moment, was a simple one.
Step One: Run Al Franken out of town. No ethics investigation. No consideration of Minnesota voters. No censure or lesser discipline. Just an aggressive Franken-ectomoy.
Step Two: Sit back and wait for alleged pedophile Roy Moore to win a Senate seat in Alabama’s special election.
Step Three: Make sure Franken’s exit shares a news cycle with Roy Moore’s entrance. It would have been the Holy Grail of partisan juxtaposition—the split-screen video image to end all split screen video images.
Step Four: Scream into the echo chamber that Republicans are the Roy Moore party and Democrats are the party of women.
But Roy Moore lost, and Operation: Moral High Ground turned out to be an Acme rocket that blew up Al Franken and left Senate Republicans Meep-Meeping as they ran down the road to tax reform. In the end, the Democratic Party sacrificed one of their most high profile Senators without gaining one square inch of moral high ground.
There should have been an ethics investigation. Unfortunately for Franken, there wasn’t time for any sort of fact-finding or due process; there was only time for politically expedient, angry mob justice.
Franken’s fellow Senate Democrat Joe Manchin said on Politico’s Off- Message Podcast that Franken got “railroaded by fellow Democrats” and that what happened to Franken was “the most hypocritical thing I’ve ever seen done to a human being.”
Franken was railroaded because he got hit with a perfect storm of political opportunism. Franken didn’t resign because he admitted to being guilty. In fact, he maintained his innocence all along saying, “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently.” He didn’t resign the people of Minnesota wanted him to. A recent PPP poll showed that Minnesotans, by an 8 point margin, wanted him to stay— that’s almost his exact margin of victory in the 2014 election. Even if Minnesotans had wanted him ousted, the constitution of Minnesota allows for a recall.
Here are of few of the real reasons that Democrats saw fit to undo an election decided by Minnesota voters:
1. Because Roy Moore was winning in the polls
Democrats can’t seem to stop getting burned by the polls. While a couple polls looked good for Jones, the majority of the showed Moore winning the Alabama special election by 4 to 9 points. Democrats were banking on all those Alabama Republicans getting it wrong. If a majority of the polls had shown Jones winning comfortably, Franken would still be a Senator. But Moore was up, and the inevitable “Republicans hate women” narrative proved too tantalizing to resist.
2. Because Minnesota has a Democrat governor
Anyone believe the Democrats would have demanded Al Franken resign if it meant they’d lose a Senate vote? Anyone believe if a Republican governor was waiting in the wings to replace Al Franken with a Republican Senator that he’d be going anywhere? Of course not! Democrat Governor Mark Dayton is appointing Democrat Lt. Governor and former vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota Tina Smith to a one year term that will end in 2019.
This played a huge role in the cost/benefit analysis of ousting Franken. Without the security of knowing the seat would stay with the party, there’s no way Franken would have been forced out. Certainly not at a time when the Senate is nearly equally divided and the Senate Democrats are facing a 2018 electoral map that has Waterloo written all over it.
3. Because Kristen Gillibrand wants to be president
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Kristen Gillibrand win the nomination in 2020 because she’s absolutely ruthless. Hours after Franken was first accused of sexual misconduct by Leanne Tweeden, Gillibrand told The New York Times that Bill Clinton should have resigned. Phillipe Reines, a former Clinton aide called her out on twitter saying, “Over 20 yrs you took the Clintons’ endorsements, money, and seat. Hypocrite. Interesting strategy for 2020 primaries. Best of luck.” It’s no coincidence that Senator Gillibrand was later the first to call for Al Franken’s resignation. According to Politico, Gillibrand’s call was “quickly followed by more than two dozen others. The first batch of resignation calls came from female senators, followed by a slew of male Democrats and eventually the majority of the 48-member caucus.”
Not only did Gillibrand seize the opportunity to be a national leader of the #metoo movement by calling for Franken’s resignation, she also took down someone who may have proven a major competitor for the Democratic nomination.
To the ultra-casual or ultra-partisan observer, it may look like the Democrats took a stand against sexual misconduct, but that’s not what happened. What really happened was they vetoed a fair election and destroyed the career of one of their own Senators in a desperate attempt to win a political narrative.
I won’t miss Al Franken and his self-righteous grandstanding, and frankly I don’t believe his denials. But he deserved the chance to prove me and everyone else wrong. His ouster was not justice. Instead, he and the Minnesotans he represented were pawns sacrificed in a Machiavellian political maneuver.
Eddie Zipperer is a political science professor at Georgia Military College.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.