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Men are taking a beating in American politics. Roy Moore's endorsement by Republicans, U.S. President Donald Trump included, exposed the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Grand Old Party.

Congress is led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is sapless, and Senate leader Mitch McConnell, whose integrity is readily bartered. The nebulous Democrats lost two of their stalwarts, Senator Al Franken and caucus dean John Conyers, in the space of one week. The sexual-harassment scourge that is shattering political norms took them down.

The focus has now turned to women, two of whom – gutsy politicians who see an opening and pounce – stand out. United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are emerging as leading lights in their respective parties. As in Ottawa with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, they outshine their male counterparts.

The post of UN envoy has never been a prized one in American politics. Go there and you disappear. But not in the case of Ms. Haley, the 45-year-old Indian-American. She has used the UN podium to upstage Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Formerly the governor of South Carolina, she has that fetching "Haley" moniker (comet analogies anyone?) and a resilient presence and, sometimes at least, an independence of mind.

The quality that Donald Trump most cherishes is loyalty. It comes through loudly in a book, Let Trump Be Trump, just released by two of his top advisers, Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie. Cross him, they say, and he'll "rip your face off" like a frogman's mask.

So it was a bit of a stunner when Ms. Haley held forth this week on the sexual-harassment issue, declaring that the cavalcade of women who have accused Mr. Trump of sexual abuse should feel free to come forward and be heard. In the estimation of Mr. Trump, they have already been heard and they were lying. He's no groper-in-chief, as the women claim. Just ask him.

The last thing he wanted was for one of his own to target him. Other female Republican lawmakers have lacked the nerve to do so. But it seemed that Ms. Haley, who also opposed the President's proposed Muslim ban, noticed the example of the comet on the Democratic side – and took her cue. Ms. Gillibrand has risen in stature because she's gone after her colleagues on the sexual-harassment issue.

Ms. Gillibrand inherited Hillary Clinton's New York Senate seat in 2009. Hillary and Bill were friends, mentors and donors to her. There was outrage therefore when, in an interview in November, Ms. Gillibrand said, yes, Bill Clinton should have resigned over his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

Her timing was too convenient, too calculating, some thought. Clinton loyalists called her a hypocrite. Mr. Trump got in on the act on Tuesday by blasting Ms. Gillibrand on Twitter as a "lightweight" who used to come to his office and would "do anything" for a campaign donation.

Ms. Gillibrand called Mr. Trump's twitter jab a "sexist smear" but said she would not be silenced. Democrats rightly accused the President of making unsavoury insinuations.

After the storm she caused with the Clinton remark, Ms. Gillibrand, a former Manhattan lawyer, took on Mr. Franken, becoming the first of his Senate colleagues to call for his resignation. That led to a flood that led to his demise.

But Ms. Gillibrand, 51, wasn't a latecomer to the issue. She has long been an aggressive advocate on women's rights and has long highlighted the sexual-harassment issue. She's a moderate Democrat who has campaigned against amnesty for illegal immigrants and for gun rights. Viewed as a presidential contender before recent developments, that status has now been enhanced. The party, many feel, needs a clean break with the Clintons.

The Republicans, many feel, need a clean break with men. Ms. Haley could well be the one. She must have been holding her breath, wondering how Mr. Trump might respond to her call to women to come forward. But he has held fire, at least so far.

The harassment issue will inevitably lose some of its steam. But there's been a cultural turn in this country's capital, one which imparts to women more clout, a greater place. In addition to that, Ms. Haley and Ms. Gillibrand have a quality that will ensure their distinction. It's called courage.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said on Sunday she believes any woman who has felt violated or mistreated by a man has every right to speak up, even if it is President Donald Trump they are accusing

Reuters