This might seem like a tough week for Democrats, what with Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., both being accused of sexual misconduct.
But next year around this time, when Republicans look back, they might view today as the day House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put all her chips down and made clear she is dead serious about getting the Speakers' gavel back in January 2019.
In calling this morning for Conyers (the longest-serving current House member) to resign from Congress, Pelosi has finally made clear she's not going to equivocate and leave Republicans with moral high ground from which to attack her.
There were big obstacles to Pelosi disowning Conyers, and this showed up in her hesitation up to now. In particular, there was his seniority, and then especially his status as the most (or perhaps second-most) powerful black House member.
But Pelosi is surely counting on the fact that there are other ambitious black Democrats who would like a chairman's gavel themselves and that her party is not even remotely in danger of losing Conyers' Detroit-area district. And most importantly of all, she is counting on the fact that it's better to get rid of the bad apples now, a full year before voters go to the polls, than to let this and other sexual harassment stories continue to simmer for the next 11 months.
Can she neutralize this issue politically? Probably, especially if Roy Moore is elected in Alabama and is permitted to serve in the U.S. Senate.
That's not to say that Democrats haven't enthusiastically enabled politically successful sexual predators for years, all the while denouncing such harassment in the most strident and unequivocal terms. It would be a big mistake to think that Bill Clinton, former Rep. Mel Reynolds, D-Ill., former Congressman and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, Franken, and Conyers are terribly unusual cases — they just happen to be a few of the ones we know about.
But Republicans have an abundance of harassers in their own ranks as well -- perhaps more than the Democrats, even -- and we're sure to hear some of their names soon. Not to mention that President Trump was caught on tape bragging that he routinely engages in just the sort of harassment now being decried. So Pelosi's rivals aren't going to be winning any good conduct medals on this issue any time soon.
And so the sooner Conyers and these other high-profile cases on her side of the aisle are gone and forgotten, the better for Pelosi's party to move forward strongly into a midterm election year where all the other factors seem to be conspiring in favor of her party.