Same Game, New Players

With all the sexual harassment accusations swirling after Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Judge Roy Moore and now Sen. Al Franken were exposed, another name popped up. This time it’s from 20 years ago, but the similarities are quite astounding.

There was a Republican senator from Oregon, Bob Packwood, who was run out of the Senate in 1995. At the time I wasn’t paying too much attention to politics, but I do remember something about him kissing a woman in an elevator. People were shocked (more naive times) and this was before the Clinton/Lewinski/impeachment drama.

If you look him up on Wikipedia, the surprising thing is how familiar the event and the players are.

He won his election in 1968 by 3,500 votes. Even then it was a tough road for a GOP guy in the Portlandia world.

Wikipedia goes on to say, “He was most noted for his role in the 1986 ‘unlikely triumph of tax reform’ while he was chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. President Ronald Reagan had proposed the idea of tax reform in 1984, but Packwood’s initial response was indifference. However, he played a leading role in fashioning a ‘radically new tax code that will raise business taxes by some $120 billion over five years—and lower personal income taxes by roughly the same amount.’ Historians of the Act have written that his turnaround ‘revived the dying tax reform bill’, and credited his ‘ingenuity and astonishing legislative skill’ for passage of the law, which ‘despite its warts and wrinkles…succeeded at the fundamental purpose of reform’.”

Trump’s tax cuts and reforms are the biggest since Reagan’s attempt in 1986. People forget how long it took to get them.

Wikipedia continues, “Packwood’s debating skills were rated A+ by USA Today in the issue of July 18, 1986. But his debating and legislative skills could kill bills as well as pass them. His ‘masterful’ floor management has been credited with killing President Clinton’s 1993 health care bill.”

At that time it was called HillaryCare. Now it’s Obamacare, but it’s the same attempt at government takeover of the health care system. Would that we had as skillful a Republican senator today!

Then, “Packwood’s political career began to unravel in November 1992, when a Washington Post story detailed claims of sexual abuse and assault from ten women, chiefly former staffers and lobbyists. Publication of the story was delayed until after the 1992 election, as Packwood had denied the allegations and the Post had not gathered enough of the story at the time. Packwood defeated Democrat Les AuCoin 52.1% to 46.5%. Eventually 19 women would come forward.”

Yes, you can always count on the Washington Post to blab about Republican mistakes while ignoring what Ted Kennedy and buddy Chris Dodd were doing to waitresses in restaurants. No different today when the sleazy Sen. Bob Menendez goes on trial for taking bribes, plus he apparently likes young girls, too.

“With pressure mounting against him, Packwood announced his resignation from the Senate on September 7, 1995, in which he stated that he was ‘aware of the dishonor that has befallen me in the last three years’ and ‘his duty to resign’ following the Senate Ethics Committee unanimous recommendation that he be expelled from the Senate for ethical misconduct. Democratic Congressman Ron Wyden won the seat in a special election.”

Wyden still holds the seat.

“After the sexual harassment case came to light, Packwood entered the Hazelden Foundation clinic for alcoholism in Minnesota, blaming his drinking for the harassments.”
Minnesota, eh? Will Minnesota Senator Al Franken find it his duty to resign? Will he blame another vice? Will he go to a clinic? Has Menendez resigned? No.

Here’s the interesting part: “Four years later, during debate on Clinton’s impeachment, McConnell said that the Republicans knew that it was very likely Packwood’s seat would fall to the Democrats if Packwood were forced out. However, McConnell said, he and his fellow Republicans felt that it came down to a choice of ‘retain the Senate seat or retain our honor.'”

The McConnell they refer to is Mitch McConnell. As you may recall, it was in the Senate that impeachment fizzled. Had it not, would we be in this mess today? Funny how McConnell didn’t feel it was that big a deal for Clinton to lie.

Maybe it would have been better had Republicans retained the Senate. Funny, too, how well versed McConnell is in ousting people. He’s also very familiar with how to handle these issues – along with tax cuts/reforms and getting rid of Obamacare. Surely some of that knowledge could help him today – if he really wanted to do something.

Did this Packwood case also suggest to him how to sabotage the Alabama Senate seat?

It’s all very curious.

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