Al Franken Should Resign

frankengrope.jpg

I am a fan of Al Franken.   He is not only extremely intelligent, but as a Senator his quick thinking has led to many memorable moments as he burned officials testifying to Senate committees with incisive and well informed questions, exposing bull shit and lies.   Before today if I had to choose who I wanted to be the Democratic standard bearer in 2020, I’d have said Al Franken.

Heck, he’s from St. Louis Park, Minnesota – a suburb of Minneapolis.  I not only was born in Minneapolis and did my Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, but I belonged to a fitness club in St. Louis Park.   I’m a Twins, Vikings and Timberwolves fan (meh to the Wild, I can’t get into hockey).   I celebrated when Franken won his razor tight initial election for the Senate in 2008.   Calling on him to resign is personally painful to me.

I’ve heard many objections.   Unlike Judge Roy Moore, who paints himself as a holier than thou religious zealot, Franken did not assault under age women.  Moore has scores of accusers, and there is even a story of how he was banned from an Alabama mall in the 80’s due to his creepiness around young girls.   Moreover, Franken has apologized and accepts an ethics investigation.  Moore has lawyered up and doubled down, trying to personally attack and discredit his accusers.

The allegations against Franken pale to those against Donald Trump, who has also been accused by multiple women of improper behavior, and has the infamous “grab them by the pussy” statement caught on video.    President Clinton survived despite accusations of impropriety from multiple women, and a relationship with an intern.   (For the record, I also called for Clinton’s resignation when the Lewinsky scandal broke).

moore

Bible thumper Roy Moore has had multiple credible accusations of assault on under age women, but refuses to admit anything.

So why on earth would I call on Franken to resign?

Here’s a statement I made on Facebook:  I believe Al Franken, who is a brilliant Senator, was trying to be funny as he says. I also believe he should set a positive example for Roy Moore and choose to resign his Senate seat. Even if this isn’t an underage woman, he should recognize that his actions reflect a culture where men thought it OK to steal a grope or a kiss…”no big deal.” He should recognize that such ideas are part of an outdated patriarchal world view and use his resignation to make that point.

Simply, Franken should take the initiative and do the right thing for the right reason.  He should recognize that his fall from grace, along with Moore, Stallone, Weinstein, Spacey, and others, reflects a change in our cultural tolerance of abusive and disrespectful behavior of men towards women.

The idea that “boys will be boys,” and “stealing a kiss” isn’t just fun and harmless.  If there is no consent, a kiss, a caress, or a touch of the breast is assault.   Even if it does no physical harm, it is a violation of another person in a way that is not only demeaning, but reflects a power differential that shows itself in how women are treated across the board.

pussy

Using humor to counter something not at all funny!

I believe in forgiveness, and I think that if people admit and apologize rather than lie and obfuscate, we can move on.

Franken resigning, and saying that he’s doing so because he recognizes that his behavior was part of accepted cultural norms that we can no longer tolerate, would be a step in the right direction.  It will also be welcome example of decency in the face of people like Trump and Moore, who want to save their own hide, whatever the cost.

We as a society can choose to stop the patriarchal view of society that continues to see men as dominant and women as subservient.   We’ve come a long way from the suffrage movement and getting women into the work place.   We’re at a cultural tipping point.   We need men, especially men who have engaged in such behavior, to own up to it, apologize, and support cultural change.

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  1. #1 by lbwoodgate on November 16, 2017 - 23:07

    Well stated Scott. I too cringed when I saw this and my heart sank when it came from an otherwise admirable guy. But there’s no room for this sort of behavior and when you’re in a position of power as franked is and Moore could be, it demeans the office and sends the wrong message to other young men who can fall prey to this unacceptable behavior

  2. #2 by susaninflorida on November 17, 2017 - 02:23

    Isn’t Franken’s apology enough?
    Why would Franken have to resign?
    It happened 11 years ago.
    He admits it was wrong and he apologized.

  3. #3 by susaninflorida on November 17, 2017 - 07:22

    Mistakes can make us more aware. He made a mistake. He admitted it. He is a great Senator. What he did and what Moore did are not equivalent. He isn’t excusing his behavior. I feel strongly that he should NOT resign.

    Am I being more lenient because I think he is a great Senator? Are you being more harsh because you don’t want to be viewed as judging those on the left more leniently?

  4. #4 by timactual on November 17, 2017 - 14:42

    “Moore has scores of accusers”

    Actually, according to ABC news, there are eight as of 15 Nov.

    ” there is even a story…”

    Really? Actually, at this stage it is more accurately called a rumor. Why do you feel the need to help rumors?

    “President Clinton survived despite accusations of impropriety from multiple women”

    That “impropriety” included accusations of rape, sexual assault (physical, not verbal), and indecent exposure.

    ” I also called for Clinton’s resignation when the Lewinsky scandal broke)”

    But not when he was accused of rape, etc?

    “his actions reflect a culture where men thought it OK to steal a grope or a kiss…”
    ” his behavior was part of accepted cultural norms”

    What culture was that? Certainly not the mainstream middle class American culture I was brought up in, where “Keep your hands to yourself!” was a regular admonition from a very young age. Your upbringing may have been different, but do not claim Franken’s behavior was a “cultural norm”, accepted or otherwise. In any elementary school I ever attended a student who had done what Franken did would have gotten at least a trip to the Principal,s office. In High School a trip to the police station.

    • #5 by lbwoodgate on November 17, 2017 - 14:52

      “more accurately called a rumor”

      So tim, are Moore’s alleged transgressions seen by you as “rumor” while Clinton’s “accusations of rape, sexual assault (physical, not verbal), and indecent exposure” are what? Not rumor?

      • #6 by timactual on November 20, 2017 - 20:57

        “…local news story that reported now-86-year-old Barnes Boyle, purportedly the mall’s manager in the 1980s, denied Moore was banned.”

        https://www.snopes.com/2017/11/17/roy-moore-banned-mall-harassing-teen-girls/

        No records of him being banned, the mall manager says he wasn’t. Yeah, until you can provide evidence other than “I heard he was banned…” then it’s a rumor.

        Bill Clinton, you may recall, was found guilty of perjury and lost his law license and $800,000 for ONE of the accusations against him. That and his record of lying lend credence to his accusers.

        http://time.com/5029172/roy-moore-accusers/

        Most of the accusations against Moore are exaggerated. Not by the so-called victims but by the press and other leftish people. Only one of the accusations involved someone under the age of consent (16), yet the impression is given that this was the norm for Moore.

  5. #7 by Scott Erb on November 17, 2017 - 15:26

    I hear what you are saying “susaninflorida.” On my facebook page where i posted a link to this the number of people pointing out that Franken made an apology, did not try to hide, appears to have thought it funny, and is now doing the right thing is a majority view. I agree that compared to Moore, he’s showing how one should handle something like this, and it’s true that we need to be able to forgive and accept apologies.

    I also agree he doesn’t have to resign. Allegations against Trump and Moore are far worse, and they know they have their partisans to defend them and believe they can just ride it out. To lose Franken while those idiots remain would seem blatantly wrong.

    Yet the reason I think it would be helpful for Franken to CHOOSE to resign, and then to focus on this issue and be part of the solution, can be seen in the post by “timactual.” At first, it’s easy to dismiss him as the typical partisan shill. Personal attacks, defending Moore while citing rumor about Clinton as true, etc. It’s easy to just roll ones’ eyes and move on, knowing his style never changes any minds. But at the end he displays the ignorant obliviousness that underlies the problem: because he was told “keep your hands to yourself,” he is in denial of the cultural ill that these case are symptomatic of. He is clueless about the constant sexism and pressure women have been under, and how men like Moore are far more common than people think. The only way to wake people up and ultimately drive thinking like timactual’s into the ash heap of history is to go a step farther than necessary. To embrace a higher standard, rejecting the moral nihilism of partisan banter.

    Franken could choose to do that, to say that while his actions were minor compared to people like Trump and Moore who flaunt their power, that he recognizes it’s part of a deeper cultural problem. To make a point, he will do what the others are unwilling to do – to show honor rather than a CYA mentality. And who knows, if he works hard at it, maybe he still could have a Presidential bid as a kind of karmic reward for doing the right thing. But as long as there are people who react to this the way “timactual” does, the problem will continue.

    • #8 by susaninflorida on November 17, 2017 - 18:28

      The problem, as I see it, is that if we require such perfection from people that generally hold our values ; then we won’t have anyone to run.

      Look who the Republicans elect.

      You want candidates who have always been saints?

      I am glad things are changing.
      I am glad people are being forced
      to acknowledge misogynistic
      behavior. I think the apology and commitment for the future is adequate.
      The woman in the photo isn’t even
      asking Franken to resign.

    • #9 by timactual on November 20, 2017 - 21:09

      ” he’s showing how one should handle something like this,”

      Only if you are guilty.

      “Allegations against Trump and Moore are far worse”

      No, they aren’t . The most obvious case being that Clinton was accused of rape. Trump and Moore, not.

      ” Personal attacks, defending Moore while citing rumor about Clinton as true, etc.”

      Please cite the personal attacks. And any “rumor” about Clinton that I cite was an attributable accusation, no more a “rumor” than the accusations you have made about Moore. The “scores of accusations”, I hasten to add. Can you provide a source for those “scores of accusations”? And you imply that I am the partisan shill.

      ” can be seen in the post by “timactual… he displays the ignorant obliviousn ess”… he is in denial …He is clueless…”

      And you accuse Me personal attacks.

    • #10 by timactual on November 20, 2017 - 21:13

      PS

      Yes, I will defend him just as I will defend anyone who is being ganged up on and lied about (those “scores of accusations”, for example).

      • #11 by Scott Erb on November 20, 2017 - 21:23

        OK, you defend Moore “timactual.” You are showing what you are in doing that. And that is a more effective way to neutralize you than any tit for tat insult. You discredit yourself.

  6. #12 by List of X on November 17, 2017 - 19:17

    I think it would be a good idea for Franken to resign. However, what’s the point of him resigning, if he’s resigning, and Trump and Moore are staying in? If I were Franken, I would announce something like “both president Trump and I had behaved inappropriately towards women in the past, and his accusations are far more serious than mine. But I do not see why our transgressions must be treated differently. I will therefore resign from the Senate the same day as President Trump resigns the his office.”

    • #13 by SShiell on November 18, 2017 - 10:04

      You’re right. What is the point if Franken resigns. He represents Minnesota. Minnesota state law calls for the Governor to replace him. The Governor is Mark Dayton, a Democrat. He would appoint another Democrat, ergo Status Quo – No change.

      • #14 by List of X on November 18, 2017 - 10:50

        It sounds like you don’t care at all about any kind of sexual abuse, only about whether the seat will stay with the Democrats or not.
        What I meant that there is no point in punishing certain people for their transgressions, if you’re willing to overlook and even defend others who committed the same offenses.

      • #15 by SShiell on November 18, 2017 - 17:47

        I am making no sounds at all regarding my own careS – I’m saying it is easy for you to support a Franken resignation since there would be no change of status. How would you respond if a Franken resignation resulted in a GOP appointment replacing him. The question is rhetorical. I am just asking.

      • #16 by List of X on November 19, 2017 - 08:54

        If you think the point of a resignation is only whether a different party could take over a seat, you don’t understand the point of a resignation at all.

      • #17 by SShiell on November 20, 2017 - 13:24

        It is my belief you should always do the right thing – whether it be a resignation or whatever. But I understand exactly what you meant in your original comment. Franken should do the right thing, but only after Trump does it first.

  7. #18 by thebigweasel on November 20, 2017 - 10:37

    I disagree sharply with the assumption that Franken should resign. The kissing incident was a one-time event; she rebuffed him, and he backed off. Stupid, but not criminal. The picture was so clearly posed, and several people who were present have said that Franken did not actually touch her, and that she was pretending to be asleep as a part of the joke.
    I also note that his apology was fulsome, gracious and sincere, and probably stands as the best possible example of how we should respond to such allegations. He made two mistakes, one minor, one not so minor. He has gone out of his way to make amends. Why punish him for doing the right thing?
    It isn’t partisanship that informs my stance: I agree that John Edwards deserved to have his career shattered, and Weiner as well. What both men did was disgraceful.
    But I look at Trump and Gingrich and Moore, and I do wonder if Republicans possess any ethics or integrity or sense of responsiblity at all any more.

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