A few days ago, allegations of sexual misconduct about Senator Al Franken (D-MN) surfaced. Leeann Tweeden said that on a comedy tour in 2006, Senator Franken (then a comedian) kissed and groped her without her consent in two separate instances. The kiss occurred during “practice” for a scene, and the alleged groping has become a point of dispute, with many pointing out that the photo in question appears to show him pretending to grope her as part of a bad joke, rather than actually touching her.
Since then, Senator Franken has faced calls to resign, including from within his own party.
A spokesperson for Franken has now confirmed that he will not be resigning from his position in the U.S. Senate.
‘Asked Saturday whether Franken would resign, a spokesperson for the senator responded: “No.”
‘“He is spending time with his family in Washington, D.C., and will be through the Thanksgiving holiday,” the staffer said by text, “and he’s doing a lot of reflecting.”’
Senator Franken has also apologized for his behavior (which Leeann Tweeden accepted) and called for an ethics investigation into himself. The situation has left the Democratic Party – and progressives – divided:
‘“It’s hard. He’s a friend, he’s an ally and he’s very effective. But we cannot have a double standard when it comes to having safe places that do not allow for sexual harassment,” said State Auditor Rebecca Otto, one of two DFL candidates for governor in 2018 to call for Franken to resign. The other was state Rep. Erin Murphy.
‘Demands for Franken’s resignation have not been universal. In Op-Ed columns and online postings, some prominent progressive women said Franken’s behavior toward Tweeden, while gross and not funny, should be viewed with the perspective that he was not yet a U.S. senator and was on the USO tour as a comedian. A group of women who worked for Franken in recent years said in a public letter that he always treated them with respect.’
Regardless of whether Franken’s behavior is something he should resign over, it’s a testament to the moral strength of progressive politics that it’s even a question. Donald Trump, for contrast, has yet to call on Roy Moore to drop out of the Senate race, despite a growing number (10 as of this writing) of separate allegations of sexual misconduct in his past, primarily targeting teens – including those under the age of consent. Dozens of witnesses have come forward to confirm these accounts.
Predatorily creeping around malls and taking children home with you is not the same thing as making inappropriate jokes or aggressively rehearsing a kiss. Is Franken’s behavior up to the standard to which we should hold members of the U.S. Senate? No. However, is it remotely comparable to Roy Moore and Donald Trump himself? Certainly not.
Sadly, it has now been successfully turned into a “whatabout” for conservatives to continue rationalizing their support of morally bankrupt leaders.
Senator Franken is right not to resign. So far, from apologizing to calling for an investigation into himself to – perhaps most importantly – working on behalf of women from a position of power, he’s done everything he should under the circumstances. Aside, of course, from not behaving that way in the first place.
Here’s Colbert’s recent monologue on the Franken scandal:
Featured image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images