Now Al Franken

The latest celebrity/politician to have credible allegations of sexual harassment and assault is Al Franken – Democrat and former Saturday Night Live Star. The right thing for him to do is to step down.

The ethics of this are clear and I think I’ve articulated that already in earlier posts. That somebody might be likeable, be effective or have admirable politics shouldn’t change what is or isn’t acceptable behaviour. There is a different conversation about reform and change and forgiveness that could be had at a different time but now isn’t that time. Aside from anything else there is no true shortage of great actors, funny comedians, or astute politicians that means we need to somehow refurbish the deeply flawed ones – actually there is a huge untapped surplus of actors, comedians and politicians that society can call on [hint: women].

Anyway, others can articulate the above better than I can. What I want to discuss is the more cynical aspect of this. People may see Franken stepping down as a gain for the right and while they may agree with everything above, they may still argue that Franken should stay because the Democrats need to deny any victory to the right.

This is a tactical error as well as an ethical one.

Put the ethics aside for the moment and look at the weird crisis I’ve been describing in Australia over MPs with dual citizenship. What started with one senator resigning has now reached the level of a constitutional crisis. The government of the day is now technically a minority government. The crisis has seriously impacted on the Prime Minister. The only political party that has ended up looking good is the Australian Greens – why? Because ONLY they got ahead of the issue and had senators resign unprompted. By doing so they set a precedent and a standard that ripples through Parliament and which took down the Deputy Prime Minister and also severely disrupted the far right One Nation Party.

If Franken goes it sets a standard – a standard the Republicans will struggle to follow. The more he clearly goes of his own volition the more radical an impact it has.

It is not just the right thing to do but it is also the smart thing to do.

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21 thoughts on “Now Al Franken

  1. I suspect people who seek out power are often the least capable of using it responsibly. I doubt that will ever change, but if a precedent is set that committing sexual assault results in your power being stripped away, these sociopaths may suddenly figure out how to stop sexually assaulting people.

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      1. It’s a good step, but… I don’t know. Maybe he is planning on being a national role model for how to accept responsibility and attempt recompense. We could use that.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree that it’s probably not enough, but I also think that the potential is to set a precedent; especially if it can be done quickly and in public. That way, others will find it much harder to avoid doing the same without being seen as trying to hide something.

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  2. If every politician who had ever groped a woman resigned, we wouldn’t have any politicians yet. I think resigning for one grope would be gross overkill.

    OTOH, I think officially censuring him would be entirely reasonable.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. We definitely wouldn’t have any politicians (on the) Right.

        *rimshot*

        No need for the shepherd’s crook, I’ll see myself out.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Har har. 😉

        For those who didn’t see my earlier comment from a day or two ago, relevant here: Wikipedia has a list of all the notable sex scandals involving national political figures in the US over the last few decades. A coupla years ago I counted them up — and found that there were twice as many Republicans on the list as Democrats.

        Anyone surprised?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Specific numbers:

        Wikipedia has a list of political sex scandals throughout US history involving national political figures. Here’s how they break down between 1980-2015:

        32 Republicans
        17 Democrats

        Liked by 2 people

    1. There a Women politicians, you know. 🙂 Though of course they can grope in fact other women or even theoretically themselves, I’ll venture that they generally do this less than men.

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      1. In one respect you’re absolutely wrong. Franken resigining would not put pressure on Republicans to do likewise. Not only is there double standard which favors the GOP, the Republicans are also currently breaking every norm they can get away with. And there’s the fact that Trump is far worse than in every way and is unlikely to resign even further egregious things come to light than already have.
        You’re probably right that Franken should resign nevertheless but the tactical advantages are rather limited for Franken and the Dems. And for Franken himself it might even better to just sit this out.

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      2. I get that this is your theory, but a good part of GOP voters won’t care. The advantage is imho small.
        Of course Dems should do it because the Seat is safe. The Minnesota governor is DFL and can appoint another DFL candidate and heck Franken could do a makeover and run again in 2020.

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  3. This Franken revelation is depressing.

    I was not sure I agreed with CF about the imperative to resign, but after reading through these comments, I’ve come to the conclusion that he is right. I’m really tired of the dismissive comments like “if all people doing it resigned, no one would be left.” That’s not at all true. It’s a country of 360 million people. There are plenty of good people. I’m also really tired of the “well, it’s overkill for just one grope.” There’s never just one grope. Gropers gonna grope.

    I looked at the photo going around of the woman in uniform apparently asleep and Franken seeming to squeeze or honk her breasts for the amusement of an audience, smilingly with a camera present. Assuming the description of the photo is accurate and she was indeed asleep and therefore unaware and not consenting in some sort of skit context — AF was an adult man engaging in actions upon a completely unaware and unparticipating woman in a manner intended to mock and humiliate her for shits and giggles in her workplace. It’s so egregious a lapse in judgement that, considered in the context of the comments in this thread makes me think he does actually have to go. To humiliate a woman in a sexual way in the workplace – in an institution already known to have criminal assault issues on women and transgender service members – it is very bad. And it makes me sad to say that because I really liked and respected Al Franken and thought he was smart, progressive, and decent.

    I’m really sad today. I might go buy some flowers or do something to distract myself from the constant disappointment and garbage fire that is 2017. I achieved something really prestigious and significant last week, so I guess there’s that. Maybe I’ll make up a certificate of excellence in excellence award for myself to go with those flowers.

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  4. I was disappointed and miserable when I heard about this because I’m a great admirer of Franken and was thinking of him as a potential vice presidential pick. I don’t know about his resignation. I think there are gradations of bad behavior — as some crimes are misdemeanors and some felonies — and I don’t know if a one-time misdemeanor should be enough.
    If the harassment was not a repeated problem (not something we can take for granted, I’m afraid), I tend to think he’d be better off with an abject apology and maybe the ethics investigation. I just worry that we’re at a severe disadvantage if one incident is enough for Dems to throw people out, but repeated bad behavior doesn’t hurt Republicans. Like Roy Moore or 🍊.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I thought it was just a skit with a kiss in it, I thought it was gross overkill. But when I found out he put his tongue in her mouth during the rehearsal and groped her, I started thinking “uh oh,” but I still really didn’t want to believe it was “legitimate harassment.” But what clinched it for me was that he later took a picture of him putting his hands on her breasts while she was asleep. Apparently this was because he was mad at her for “overreacting” to the kiss.

    So, yeah, I think he needs to resign. I’m very disappointed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Guys, once again we are creating fake news.

      In the Franken photo, he is not touching anything. I have no doubt that he did grab her breasts — he has admitted to it himself, I believe. But the grab is not actually in the photo that’s being circulated.

      The accusations going around on both sides right now ( Moore and Franken) are bad enough already without making stuff up about them.

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