Waiting for the boomerang on ‘Me, Too’

EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK

BY ART CULLEN

I know a real, live East Coast media liberal who believes that the current round of rolling groping disclosures about prominent men by credible women soon enough will turn to a Reign of Terror, under which anyone who ever wanted to settle a score with you will be weaponized. And, she believes it will not change a thing about leering and lurching men or who control things because eventually the terror will obliterate a legitimate “Me, Too” movement.

Most men are following the accusations with at least a casual interest, and the honest or guilty among us are taking an inventory of what we have said or done. Many men over the age of 50, it is well documented, already feel left behind and without control of what happens to them. Change happens so fast that many of us can’t comprehend or keep up with it. It’s the explanation of why rural Iowa men with no education beyond high school voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump.

Last week the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus made a bet that my East Coast friend is right. Majority Leader Bill Dix released a whitewash of a report on a so-called investigation of the Senate Republican workplace environment and found no incidents of sexual harassment. This is in direct conflict with a jury that awarded a former GOP staffer $2.2 million for sexual harassment. The staffer is completely credible. The old bulls are figuring it will all blow over eventually once the credible reports give way to the vengeful ones.

Democrats rising to the defense of Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota must believe the same thing — that specious accusations eventually will crush the “Me, Too” movement.

It’s fair to say that most men I know are mixed up about it. We don’t talk with women much about it for fear of saying the wrong thing. My friends don’t understand what in the world is going on in Alabama. They are uncomfortable with the reports out of the Iowa Capitol. They also are skeptical of unidentified accusations against Franken. Most men I hang around are not on power trips and would not think of grabbing or groping, and they do what their wives tell them. We’ve talked about it. They also wonder after they hear it enough if they are worth a pinch, and they resent being thrown in with the likes of Franken and Roy Moore.

If they felt threatened and unsure of themselves before, how will they react to Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand or Elizabeth Warren coming in to Iowa to lecture them on their bad behavior? Would an independent male who voted for Obama twice be scared off? Proceed cautiously.

It doesn’t appear to me that Franken or Moore or Bill Dix have any shame. The U.S. Senate should stand for something more than lecherism. So should the Iowa Senate.

Most men in Iowa do have a sense of shame such that they might react as voters in ways you might not expect. You would think that the accusations from Des Moines to Washington would have resonance and reverberation, which could result in a change in the way these power centers treat women. They could also end up in a backlash from men, who even though they remain in control, think they are not. A lot of men think that they are all wrong because they are men, even when they try every day of their lives to do the right thing.

The women who publicly accused Moore and Franken showed courage. They do a public service. The movement, if steered off track by malice, will lead to a political reaction that is the opposite of what was intended.