The following is from the Dallas Morning News.
Few things have changed so profoundly in America in the past year as the social and political rules for how allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men should be handled, and what the consequences should be for those men who have been sexual aggressors.
The names alone make the point. Harvey Weinstein. Kevin Spacey. Charlie Rose. Sen. Al Franken. Michigan Rep. John Conyers. Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold. And many, many more.
That’s why it was with such relief that we saw evidence last week that one of the highest-ranking women in the Trump administration understands that the rules have changed – and for the better.
Ambassador Nikki Haley, formerly the governor South Carolina and now our envoy to the United Nations, told CBS on Sunday that the women who have accused her boss, President Donald Trump, of sexual misconduct “should be heard and they should be dealt with.”
This is only reasonable. Fair to the president, too, since she certainly wasn’t judging whether the claims are true. She simply said that these women, having made allegations ranging from harassment to assault, should be taken seriously.
Reasonable, but given the contempt for the women that the administration has previously shown, her comments have reverberated all week.
In response, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said simply that while women should be free to talk about harassment, the president has already said the accusations by these women – nearly 20 of them now – are false. And besides, voters knew all about the allegations last year – at least the ones that were made in the immediate wake of the now-infamous “Access Hollywood” tape – and they elected Trump anyway.
“We’re ready to move forward,” she added.
But Haley had already been asked whether the election results should have settled these questions about Trump. Her response on Sunday was perfect.
“That’s for the people to decide. I know that he was elected. But, you know, women should always feel comfortable coming forward. And we should all be willing to listen to them.”
In the end, that’s all Haley, and all most reasonable people, are asking for.
These women should be given a forum, if not at the Justice Department, then perhaps by a congressional committee. Their allegations, if they prove to be both credible and serious, should be followed-up on.
The president has been elected. Past behavior, even if it is cringe-worthy or criminal, may well not rise to the level of formal removal proceedings. We’re not anywhere close to having to make those kinds of decisions.
Instead, the people who elected Trump, and those whom he serves as president, have a right to know that their president isn’t playing by an old set of rules when everyone else is playing, finally, by new and fairer ones.
That’s why Haley was right to say what she said, whether the president likes it or not.
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