The Slatest

Today in Conservative Media: Let’s Be Frank About Franken

Sen. Al Franken during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.

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A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.

Conservatives weighed in on the sexual assault allegation against Democratic Sen. Al Franken on Thursday. “As we’ve been bringing to you, the most obnoxious, arrogant liberal senator currently (dis)serving in the Senate, Al “Stuart Smalley” Franken, has been caught with his hands in the cookie jar,” RedState’s Susan Wright wrote. “While Franken has apologized [and] attempted to reason away the occurrence “not being how he remembered it,” it’s a pleasant surprise to see that, for once, liberal celebrities are not circling the wagons around one of their own, but are calling him out for his atrocious behavior.” Rush Limbaugh speculated about the Democrats’ next moves:

What will the Democrats do? I think what they’re gonna do is try to pretend this isn’t happening. The smart thing for them to do would be to get rid of Franken, have the governor in Minnesota appoint a Democrat to replace him. You don’t miss or lose a seat this way. And in so doing you make yourself bulletproof in your effort to get rid of Roy Moore. You make yourself bulletproof in your effort to get rid of Trump.

But if they go in the other direction and try to protect and harbor a man accused of sexual harassment with a photo to prove it, if they try to save that guy, if they try to harbor him, keep him there by running out the clock or by relying on the media to not report it, which I think they might do, I think they might have full confidence that the media will ignore this, stay focused on Moore, say stay focused on Trump, say focused on anything and just ignore the Franken circumstance.

National Review’s Kevin Williamson weighed Franken against other imperfect well-known men:

In the case of great men, we have to consider their careers whole. Gandhi had some very weird personal habits and a lot of very stupid ideas about politics and economics, but he was right about his One Big Thing. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., too. We are lucky that Jefferson wasn’t as influential as he might have been among the Founding Fathers, given that he harbored some truly insane political ideas. It’s a difficult thing to do, which is why good historians and good biographers are so valuable.

Happily, in the case of Senator Al Franken, we don’t really have to do very much of that. He’s a putz. He was a putz before that leering picture of him groping a sleeping woman came out. Some of our Democratic friends have been reconsidering their apologizing and excuse-making for Bill Clinton. (More joy in Heaven and all that—but the timing sure is convenient.) If it is the case, as Matthew Yglesias argues, that Bill Clinton should have resigned in disgrace over his gross but consensual exploitation of a young White House intern, what should Franken do?

In other news:

Conservatives responded to a new Fox poll showing Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore well behind Democrat Doug Jones following multiple sexual misconduct allegations against Moore. “Moore is behind by 8 points among likely voters in a state so red the Democrats didn’t even bother running a challenger to now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2014,” RedState’s Andrea Ruth wrote. “With Moore and his supporters’ consistent refrain being about how important the Alabama Senate seat is for Republicans, one has to ask if there is any politician more selfish than Roy Moore right now?” Hot Air’s Allahpundit was skeptical of the poll’s results:

Moore’s wrecked, right? Well, hold on. His favorable rating in this poll among likely voters is a feeble 43/50. *Barack Obama’s* favorable rating is … 52/45. Trump’s is just 49/48. Show of hands: Who thinks Obama is more popular in Alabama than Roy Moore or Donald Trump? Another odd result has Luther Strange polling worse against Doug Jones than Moore does, trailing Jones 48/38 among likely voters compared to Moore’s 50/42 mark. I can believe that some stalwart Moore supporters would boycott an election if Strange were inserted as a last-minute replacement nominee, but if Moore’s alleged misbehavior with teenaged girls is scaring Republican voters away, Strange shouldn’t be doing worse than he is statewide. In any case, the question is academic; Strange isn’t going to be subbed in for Moore and he won’t mount a write-in campaign that will do nothing except ensure Jones’s victory by splitting the Republican vote.

So what’s going on here? How did Fox get numbers that show Barack Obama outpolling Trump in Alabama? Daily Kos, which should be cheering this result on, is suspicious of it as well. It could be that Fox’s pollsters are overestimating how blue the Alabama electorate will be on Election Day. Granted, Democrats there will be out in force to rebuke Moore and try to steal a seat, but Fox’s sample has it 48R/42D, just a six-point spread in a very red state. It’s quite possible that their likely-voter model is simply too blue. But don’t discount the results entirely: Their *registered voter* model is a more plausible 48R/39D, yet Jones leads Moore by an even wider margin there — 49/40. Either way, any poll that has the Democrat at or close to 50 percent is frightening for Republicans.