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Democrats turn on 'groper' Franken

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The contrast couldn’t be starker.

While Democrats pressure their own to leave office in the wake of sexual abuse allegations, Republicans are rallying around one of their own in an attempt to get him elected.

Examples of courage from both parties have been few and slow in coming. But Democrats, after some characteristic hand-wringing and soul-searching, seem to at least be trying to do the right thing.

It was internal party pressure, after all, that forced two erstwhile popular office holders to step down this week in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct.

Detroit-area Rep. John Conyers, the House’s longest-serving member with nearly 53 years in office, announced his immediate retirement on Wednesday following multiple complaints of sexual harassment from women who worked in his office.

More: Conyers resigns from Congress amid harassment allegations

And popular second-term Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota resigned on Thursday after increasing numbers of his Democratic colleagues — led by Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey — insisted he depart. He too has been accused of multiple incidents of inappropriate sexual conduct.

Both men denied or disputed at least some of the allegations against them.

So is Congress — albeit belatedly — is taking steps to clean house?

Not exactly. Or, at least, not entirely.

On the other side of the aisle, the GOP is working feverishly, from President Trump on down, to secure the election of a candidate who faces allegations far worse than those lodged against Conyers or Franken.

On Tuesday, Alabama voters will elect a senator to fill the vacancy left when Jeff Sessions was named Trump’s attorney general. The Republican candidate, former judge Roy Moore, has been accused by nine different women of pursuing sexual relationships or outright sexually assaulting them when they were in their teens and he was in his early 30s. One woman charges Moore assaulted her when she was just 14.

More: New sex assault allegation hits Moore

Moore has denied all charges.

Still, political kryptonite, right? Not for today’s Republican party.

To hear party officials tell it, there’s something even worse than an accused pedophile: A Democrat.

Thus, Trump has endorsed Moore in the race over Democrat Doug Jones (whose credentials include successfully convicting two Ku Klux Klan members in the deadly 1963 Birmingham church bombing, which more than puts the lie to Trump’s hollow claim that he is “soft on crime”). The Republican National Committee shortly thereafter reinstated the financial support it pulled when the charges against Moore were first made public.

Other top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who initially called on Moore to drop out of the race have softened their stance, hiding behind the phrase, “let the people of Alabama decide.”

That’s not only disappointing, it’s morally bankrupt. Less than one month ago, McConnell declared, “I believe the women.” Evidently, not enough to urge them not to vote for an accused serial pedophile.

Republicans like McConnell and the RNC money lenders are not saying they don’t believe the allegations. Like too many other party-blinded partisans, they’re saying they don’t care.

But that’s been established. After all, the party’s flag-bearer, Trump, has admitted to sexually assaulting women on tape, and party leaders — and dispiriting numbers of voters — refused to disavow him. When will they confront the president the way Democratic lawmakers have confronted Conyers and Franken? Or the way they themselves have confronted Franken and Conyers? The hypocrisy is appalling.

Meantime, with Moore’s boorish ascendance as a potential senator, the party continues to reap what it has sown.

The decision on whether to send Moore to the U.S. Senate is indeed in the hands of Alabama’s voters. Here’s hoping they show more conviction than congressional Republicans.

Distasteful though it may be to them, electing a Democrat will be a decision they will only have to live with for six years. Electing Roy Moore is a decision they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

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