Feeling the Franken fallout

FEELING THE FRANKEN FALLOUT…. In October, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) proposed a key amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill, which generated some attention at the time, but continues to grow in importance.

Motivated by the harrowing violence Jamie Leigh Jones suffered in 2005 while working for Halliburton/KBR in Iraq, Franken pushed a measure to withhold defense contracts from companies that “restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.” Franken’s measure passed, 68 to 30. The 30 opponents — representing 75% of the entire GOP Senate caucus — were Republican men.

In a bizarre twist, those GOP senators are now livid because they’re facing criticism over the vote. Worse, they’re furious with Franken for not defending them for having voted against his amendment.

“Trying to tap into the natural sympathy that we have for this victim of this rape — and use that as a justification to frankly misrepresent and embarrass his colleagues, I don’t think it’s a very constructive thing,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in an interview.

“I think it’s going to make a lot of senators leery and start looking at things he’s doing earlier on, because I don’t think it got appropriate attention ahead of time.”

In a chamber where relationship-building is seen as critical, some GOP senators question whether Franken’s handling of the amendment could damage his ability to work across the aisle.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) added, “I don’t know what his motivation was for taking us on, but I would hope that we won’t see a lot of Daily Kos-inspired amendments in the future coming from him. I think hopefully he’ll settle down and do kind of the serious work of legislating that’s important to Minnesota.”

This is completely incoherent. Franken’s amendment wasn’t about “taking on” Republicans; it was a response to the brutality against Jamie Leigh Jones. If this measure doesn’t constitute “serious work,” nothing does. Indeed, 10 members of the very conservative Senate Republican caucus agreed, and voted for the amendment.

And now GOP members are going to push Franken away because they’re taking heat for a misguided vote? Heat that Franken has nothing to do with?

We’ve all seen petty politics before, but this is the height of foolishness.