Outgoing U.S. Sen. Al Franken speaks about his accomplishments and...

Outgoing U.S. Sen. Al Franken speaks about his accomplishments and thanks his team, as his eight years in the Senate are set to come to an end soon, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in Minneapolis. Credit: AP

Weaponizing high-profile cases of sexual abuse for partisan purposes is turning out to be a zero-sum game.

Just as there is no Democratic or Republican way of picking up the garbage, there is no partisan method of absorbing a scandal over bad behavior.

Everyone’s familiar with charges leveled at GOP President Donald Trump, as well as the “Access Hollywood” tape that rattled his ultimately successful presidential campaign.

Citizens of a certain age remember Bill Clinton in the 1990s, the impeachment, and the allegations against him — something the Trump camp used to offset the damage.

On Friday, a list of decades-long charges whirled around Steve Wynn, the casino magnate who also happened to be finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. He quit the next day.

Instantly, the story drew parallels to the Democrats’ bond with scandal-battered film magnate Harvey Weinstein. He raised big bucks for the party and schmoozed with top guns from President Barack Obama on down.

Now you can almost hear some cynical operative saying, “I’ll see your Weinstein and raise you a Wynn.”

The resignation of Sen. Al Franken scored one for the Republicans. Then Roy Moore, a politician who had been accused of sexual misconduct, lost an Alabama Senate seat.

Then there was resignation of senior Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), who was accused of unwanted sexual advances.

But there were also recent cases — with dissimilar details — involving Republican Reps. Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania and Joe Barton of Texas.

The facts of each case naturally differ. But efforts to use them as holier-than-thou partisan propaganda share a thread.

The generalizations are in the air:

“Democrats caught up in this are hypocrites because they claim to be the party of equal rights and feminism!”

“Republicans caught up in this are hypocrites because they claim to be the party of family values and religious principle!”

But allegations of harassment and abuse also can be used as weapons within parties.

Just as news was breaking about Wynn, word spread that a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign accused of harassment was kept on the staff.

Don’t expect Bernie Sanders supporters of 2016 — sometimes slammed as sexist by Clinton backers — to leave that one alone on Twitter and Facebook.

The warring forces can keep pointing fingers, but neither can claim a permanent advantage when it comes to this issue.


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