Senator Bernie Sanders has some explaining to do. Despite female lawmakers now agreeing that former President Bill Clinton should have stepped down after the sexual assault and harassment allegations emerged, Sanders refuses to even acknowledge it and he’s even giving his Democratic colleague a pass.
Sexual misconduct is wrong, no matter who it’s coming from. Sadly, the latest comments by Senator Sanders exposes that partisan politics trumps doing the right thing.
When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Sanders about whether he agrees with his colleague Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that President Clinton should’ve resigned after his relationship with Monica Lewinsky was exposed, he did this:
Sanders completely ignored Tapper’s question about Clinton, answering, “Look, I don’t think that at this moment our goal is to look back 20 years or 30 years. Our goal is to go forward, and our goal is to understand that we have a real crisis in this country today within the political world, within the corporate world, within the media world where women are being harassed every single day.”
Sanders then pivoted away from the question to some progressive talking points on women:
He continued, “And our job is to change that culture, but it’s not only harassment on the job. Right now we’re seeing the situation in Washington and in states all over this country, a major effort to take away a woman’s right to control her own body. Major struggles to take away women’s reproductive rights. Women are making 80 cents on the dollar compared to men.”
It’s ironic that Sanders doesn’t want to go back in time to revisit Clinton’s misconduct. If sexual harassment is wrong today, it was wrong a decade ago, two decades ago and even three decades ago.
President Clinton isn’t the only one Sanders gave a pass to.
On the recent disclosure about his colleague Senator Al Franken harassing a radio host and groping her breasts while she was sleeping, Sanders issued a bland statement saying “Sexual harassment is completely unacceptable. I agree with the calls for an Ethics Committee investigation into this deeply troubling incident.”
That toothless statement was watered down when he was asked whether Franken should step down and he had this to say:
"I think that's a decision for Al Franken and the people of the state of Minnesota," Sanders said when asked on CNN's "State of the Union" whether Franken should step down.
"My understanding is that Al is a very popular senator. People in Minnesota think that he is doing a good job. And his political future will rest with the people of Minnesota."
Oh really? Well, if Sanders thinks the people of Minnesota should decide Senator Franken’s political future, he must feel the same way about Alabama’s Republican candidate Roy Moore. Not even close.
In an interview with MSNBC’s in an interview with Chris Hayes Sanders brings the hammer down on Moore:
“Let us hope that he will not be my colleague, or anybody else’s colleague. You know, I think you have heard, Chris, that there are a number of Republicans who are saying that at this particular time, given these horrific charges against Mr. Moore, that it would be appropriate for him to step aside, and I support that. I agree with that.”
In the fight against misconduct, men and women we need allies who will put politics aside. Senators Sander’s convenient side-stepping and free passes to Democrats leaves him zero credibility on the issue of sexual misconduct. Is winning an election or retaining political power really more important than justice and truth?
We need leaders who will step up and say the unbiased and uncomfortable truth. Senator Sanders is proving he is not that.