I would say it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point that Al Franken will be exiting the Senate this week, probably tomorrow. He has a press conference set for the morning already, and he’s come under heavy fire from several of his fellow Democratic senators, many women, today to resign. Kirsten Gillibrand started the call, but Kamala Harris, Patty Murray, and several others have signed on. The impetus it would appear is the seventh woman coming forward to accuse Franken of sexual impropriety.
Maybe you’re already bristling at my choice of “impropriety” over “harassment” or even “assault.” But I chose that word because I have a hard time fully convicting Franken in the court of public opinion. I’m not someone who says we shouldn’t trust women when they make an allegation against a man; quite the contrary. But ultimately I have always felt that on some level, we owe it to BOTH parties to sit them down in a court of law and hash it out, instead of using the media to play judge, jury, and career executioner.
It’s not that I think Senator Gillibrand is wrong about Franken’s behavior being terrible. It clearly is. But I worry that we’re throwing out a good senator in hopes of a perfect one. Yes, I know how it looks for a dude to say we should let another dude who is accused of being a creeper stay, but I beg anyone reading to look at the nuanced distinction I am trying to draw here.
Al Franken isn’t Roy Moore and he’s not been accused of anything resembling that. Franken is, if the absolute worst of the stories are true, kind of a sad, pathetic little dude who tried to use his talents to butter up women for a kiss, or that touched a woman’s butt in what may or easily may not have been a sexual thrill ride for him. It’s not that I’m saying what Franken is accused of is okay, right, or even forgivable. I’m trying to figure out at what point we want adults to learn from their mistakes.
Franken is entitled to his ethics investigation concluding before he quits. That’s what’s truly fair. Even if he is extremely guilty, and he very easily could be, there is zero point in pretending to care about fairness or justice and then turning around and forcing him to quit before he gets his “day in court” as it were.
The thing is, if Franken were accused of the kinds of stuff Moore is, I wouldn’t be having this internal struggle. But logically, self-evidently, there is a country mile’s distance between Moore and Franken, and I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a lot of cynical political partisan bullshit underneath the coordinated Democratic attack on Franken. There’s no doubt after Rep. Conyers and Franken’s run-ins with these allegations that the Dems want to take the moral high ground back. So eating one of their own would be a logical step to take in that direction, right?
There’s also the fact that not every Franken accuser is Leann Tweeden. In the wake of her accusation, Franken apologized, didn’t deny it, and seemed to truly understand how stupid it was for him to take that fake groping picture. Today’s seventh accuser, however, Franken flatly rebukes. And I do wonder why he’d admit to one instance, and not another. Is it possible that he didn’t know he was being as creepy as he is?
Comedy is a weird world where boundaries don’t mean shit, truly. If you put up barriers to yourself, you might lose a good joke. Maybe that doesn’t matter to everyone, but it maters to those of us who try and sometimes die trying to make people laugh. Perhaps Franken took awhile to realize that kind of “anything goes” culture doesn’t fly everywhere else. And perhaps he’s a sexual predator with a history of doing this everywhere he goes. Gee, it’s almost like a Senate ethics inquiry might get to the bottom of that, huh?
I guess, in the end, I am left grappling with this notion — does Al Franken have to resign in order for me support awareness and pushing for the end of sexual harassment? I think I know the answer. To me, I care first and foremost about having a full perspective, so that we can allow men and women to dialogue on this, instead of throwing bombs at each other.
Why should Franken go and Moore and Trump, who both have far worse allegations against them, get to stay? It’s bad politics, but it’s also a really shitty precedent to set on your own team, if you ask me.
I don’t think Gillibrand et. all are horrible for calling on Al Franken to retire. I just don’t think it’s wise to try and take the moral high ground from a party that thinks it’s taking a stand for decency by electing a pedophile. We’re never going to beat them, we’re never going to convince them that Moore is worse than Franken, and that Trump is worse as well, so why are throwing Franken out NOW?
Let him resign after his term up. Let him resign after the investigation. Nothing will be hurt, because no one is going to not vote for a Democrat in Alabama because Al Franken is still in the Senate. They’re not going to vote for Democrat as long as they’re programmed to hate Democrats.
One last thing, though, in case you think I’m using my dick to cover up shit for Franken because he’s in the Dick Havers Club:
Al Franken sucks for putting us through this. He made bad decisions, and knew he had, so when he started piously condemning Trump, maybe he should’ve chosen to shut the fuck up instead. He makes us all look bad to the other side…then again, the other side thinks our philosophy is a mental illness, so grab those grains of salt, fam.
What a mess this country has become.
So you tell me, am I not a pro-woman, pro-equality liberal if I am a stickler for due process and presumed innocence? Does my desire to see Franken treated fairly make me a monster? A misogynist? I genuinely don’t know, and I, like the rest of the country’s men, am grappling with the answer to these questions on the daily.