Political Sexual Harassment: It’s Like The Other Kind, Except You Get To Keep Your Job

(Bill Clark/Roll Call/Pool)

The further we get into 2017, the clearer it is that sexual harassment is THE trend of the year — or at least it’s in a three-way tie with re-litigating the Civil War and creating a permanent oligarchy.

Much of the exposed sexual harassment, assault, and rape has focused on the entertainment and media industries, where we’ve learned about masturbating comedians, massage-coercing producers, and “crusty pawed” news anchors. All have lost their jobs, many of them on the same day that the allegations surfaced.

And then there’s political strain of accused sexual harassers: senatorial candidate Roy Moore, alleged child molester; Al Franken, accused groper; Blake Farenthold, who spent $84,000 in taxpayer money to a staffer he sexually harassed and then fired; and John Conyers, who has paid untold thousands of taxpayer money for his own harassment cases.

All have also lost their jobs — oh wait, hold on. Correction. NONE have lost their jobs. 

Yes, days and weeks after allegations of their harassment became public, Franken is still in the Senate, Farenthold and Conyers are still in Congress, and Moore is still on the campaign trail, bizarrely ranting at Mitch McConnell for introducing legislation that reflects all of Moore’s values. Oh yeah, and then there’s President Trump.

So why are politicians seemingly immune while entertainment figures are falling faster than you can say “meet me in my hotel room at midnight for a legitimate business meeting”?

One reason may be that there’s only one standard recourse for citizens to fire politicians — voting against them in elections — and we’re still a year away from the 2018 midterms. But that doesn’t explain everything. Moore, for instance, faces voters in just eight days, and he’s re-taken the lead over Doug Jones, who faces no allegations of child molestation but does  — avert your eyes — oppose raising taxes on teachers and grad students to finance the Trump kids’ inheritance tax break. Oh, and Moore just got Trump’s endorsement.

It also may be because most voters don’t have the same familiarity with non-presidential politicians that they do with morning news anchors, or actors who pretend to play the president on a Netflix show.

The fact is that fake TV presidents like Kevin Spacey are currently held to higher standards than actual ones like Donald Trump. And they’re certainly held to higher standards than semi-obscure congressmen. Let’s be honest: How many of you know anything about Blake Farenthold beyond the fact that he spent 84k of public money to clean up his harassment mess and that the letters in his name can be rearranged to spell “Bloke Fart Handle”? That’s right, none of you.

But maybe this is the answer: We have unbelievably low standards for our politicians — or at least the ones in our preferred political parties. Donald Trump bragged on tape about sexually assaulting women and got elected president. Bill Clinton was accused of sexual harassment by more people than a Lifetime movie villain, and he won twice. Basically their behavior was disgusting, but it was acceptable in voters’ minds for the office they were seeking.

But woe unto them if they ever attempt to play a fictional president on TV! Some jobs simply have standards attached.