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On the Franken matter — and an important turn in our society

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Sen. Al Franken

I don’t claim to have much of value to offer in the sad, colossally icky Al Franken matter. I don’t even know for sure, as I write this, whether the announcement he will make Thursday morning will be his resignation, although the odds are good that that’s what he’ll announce.

Certainly, his until-recently rising political star rises no more.

Franken and I aren’t exactly friends, and we had an infinitesimal reporter/newsmaker dustup or two. But I’d be less than candid if I didn’t acknowledge that I’ve come to admire his senatorial self over the past nine years — the way he bores in deeply on issues and doesn’t stop asking uncomfortable questions as, recently, in his questioning of Jeff Sessions — but in other similar instances as well.  

Franken has demonstrated a knack for pushing past glib half-truths and insisting on real answers to substantive questions. We need more of that in the Senate, perhaps more than ever in the age of Trump.

But I believe the women. Just as was the case with the women who accused Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Roy Moore, who, in my opinion committed far worse acts of sexual predation than those so far alleged against Franken (and they survived politically), even if fairness to the accused man leaves room for a reasonable pause for skepticism when the first accuser comes forward, even if most of the Franken instances known so far occurred before he entered public office, there are just too many women telling similar tales of unwanted touching and kissing to seriously believe that Franken can or should continue in high public office.

I wish Franken well. I hope the women who’ve come forward will also not suffer and will get some benefit or relief out of the denouement.

I hope and trust that Gov. Dayton will appoint a good replacement, assuming that’s the way this goes. (Is it too cynical to wonder whether some of the Democrats who are calling for his resignation might be singing a different tune, or no tune at all, so if he came from a state with a Republican governor?)

I hope Al and Franni Franken’s marriage weathers this. I hope he finds a way to continue contributing. He’s very smart and talented.

And the best news to come out of this and a great many other cases that have flooded the headlines these last weeks and months, is that we have made a very large turn from a society in which powerful men believed they could do these things with impunity and the women mostly felt obliged to suffer in silence, to a much better understanding of the meaning of “consensual.” My wife and I have a daughter and a son, both in their 20s. I believe they have that better understanding.

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Comments (16)

  1. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 12/07/2017 - 09:10 am.

    Common sense, main stream see through this charade. Clinton, Terry Bean, Anthony Weiner were all protected because they had value. John Conyers seems to think he still has the clout to get his son (an aspiring rapper recently arrested for domestic abuse) in to power…and he’s probably right.

    Also, I find it highly amusing to see leftists that say Trump is a pathological liar out of one side of their mouths, claim to believe everything he said during an interview with some crappy show.

    There are allegations of rape against Trump, and statutory rape against Moore. Those are serious criminal charges that they deny. If true, neither is fit for office, but like Franken, they have the right to face their accusors.

    The lesson I see here is the Democrats are the party of specious virtue signaling and mob rule, the GOP is the party of due process.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/07/2017 - 09:57 am.

      Conservatives are happy

      It is highly likely that Franken will be replaced by a much more conservative Democrat (I’m betting on Rep. Tim Walz, who is currently in the race for governor).
      Certainly we are losing a strong voice for honesty in government.
      It is worth noting that so for the only confirmed instance smells more like a prank gone wrong than serious harassment (Franken and Tweeden were colleagues; not in an obvious power imbalance relationship).
      And all of the claims were from a time when Franken was in the entertainment industry; not in public office. And one must take into account the uniformly positive statements from women who have worked with him while he was in office.
      Frankly, the Dems are treating Franken like Jonah.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/07/2017 - 10:06 am.


      It’s hard to pick out the most comical part of this comment, but for me, this one does it:

      “Also, I find it highly amusing to see leftists that say Trump is a pathological liar out of one side of their mouths, claim to believe everything he said during an interview with some crappy show.”

      If we take this statement to its logical conclusion, it means that we should have no problem with a President who has falsely bragged about committing multiple acts of sexual assault. He the kind of character that, for some reason, will lie and try to make people believe that he is, in the end a rapist (the fact that he was going to appear on “some crappy show” other than his own is a separate issue). Did he think that boasting about these vile acts would raise him in another’s esteem?What does it say about him that he associates with this kind of person, and wants them to admire him for this type of behavior?

      Of course, it could be true that, all evidence to the contrary, he is not a pathological liar. Does that mean he was telling the truth?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/07/2017 - 10:41 am.

      Wow, that’s impressive

      Mr. Senker’s “lesson” is one of the most impressive feats of rational and moral acrobatics I’ve seen in a long time. So the folks who hold their Party members accountable and demand resignations are the ones with specious virtues and the people who ignore repugnant behavior and stack their ranks with psychopaths and deviants are the champions of due process. Wow.

      Just a quick note about “due process”. There is no “due process” in politics or elections, and no one is on trial here…. yet. The statute of limitations so far puts Moore and Trump beyond prosecution so we can’t pretend that the absence of criminal charges proves innocents. None of the offenses Franken has been accused of thus far are actually criminal offenses. If more recent allegations come to light that may change, but elections are not trials and the “court” of public opinion is a metaphor, not an actual courtroom. Suffice to say that a person can be a repugnant predator or even an un-convicted criminal and still win an election.

      Speaking of metaphors, I know some people have trouble with complex reality… which is actually just plain reality since reality IS complex. But some of us understand that even untrustworthy people sometimes speak the truth. After all, if everything a person ever says is a lie, it creates a paradox wherein a liar can erase all lies by admitting they are a liar. Conversely, if everything Trump says is the truth, than what he said about groping and molesting women must also be true. I know all this can give some people a headache just thinking about it but fortunately some of us have the requisite intellectual capacity to cope with reality and a modicum of complexity. Thank God for THAT eh?

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 12/07/2017 - 10:55 am.

      GOP the party of due process??

      This is an especially hilarious comment after the repeated attempts to forestall due process in legislation and investigations.

      Anything for party, eh ?

  2. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 12/07/2017 - 09:42 am.

    Trump can have his day in court, but

    I can apply common sense given Trumps history of having trouble with the truth, the number of women that have come forth, the very real bus comments made by the very real liar, and feel confident in my personal decision that Trump is a guilty as the day is long. Let Trump have his day in court and maybe, but not likely, prove me wrong. I need the same freedom of speech right as the liar has.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/07/2017 - 09:54 am.

    And yet…

    while the multiple accusations are credible, and I thought Franken would end up having to resign simply because of the cultural shift that’s been made plain over the past several weeks, the “groper in chief,” after numerous other people have lost jobs and careers, not only continues in office, but has not been, in my view, properly confronted with the multiple accusations against him.

    In short, I’d be inclined toward skepticism if it were a single accusation, and I continue to be bothered by our current societal response that an accusation is, ipso facto, a conviction (Rachel Kahler, what do you think?), multiple accusations have to be taken more seriously, whether I like it or not. If Franken must resign because he’s accused of groping multiple women, and given the dissolution of his support in the Senate, that seems the only practical political course of action open to him, why should not the Current Occupant also resign as a result of the multiple accusations against him?

    If we’re going to make an issue of this sort of sexual harassment—and we should—then the elephant in the room, from the very beginning, and dating back to the presidential campaign and before, is the behavior of the Current Occupant. The degree of hypocrisy displayed by some on this issue is truly staggering. If we assume all of the powerful and/or wealthy men now publicly accused of this sort of boorish behavior are, in fact, guilty of it, why would we not assume the same thing about the Current Occupant, and if the opprobrium being heaped on these men is justified, as I think it should be, then why is the Current Occupant not being pilloried, publicly and loudly, for engaging in the same behavior?

    • Submitted by John Webster on 12/07/2017 - 12:02 pm.

      Very Conspicuous Elephant

      The elephant in the room was seen by all voters before the Nov., 20106 election; the allegations against Trump pre-date the election. Voters factored the belated revelations about him into their voting decisions, and enough people in contested states disliked Hillary more than they disliked Trump. Moreover, the actions that Trump is credibly accused of doing occurred during the long period when he voted for and donated to Democratic politicians. He hasn’t been accused of sexual harassment since he decided for convenience sake to run as a Republican.

      All this hoopla will end in a political stalemate. Franken will be gone, replaced by a left-wing Democrat. Roy Moore will be expelled from the Senate, with the Republican Governor of Alabama appointing a right-wing Republican in his place. A pox on both parties’ glass houses.

      • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 12/07/2017 - 12:42 pm.

        Trump lost the popular vote by 3+ milllion

        When it comes to sexual abuse and assault the electoral college is not a factor. It doesn’t matter if Trump did it before he was a politician. It doesn’t matter which party Trump was donating to. The only thing that matters is that Trump removed all doubt when his detailed admissions removed all doubt. No weasel words will change the fact Trump admitted to abuse in the very real bus tape. Billy Bush, the guy Trump was talking to on the tape, has publically stated that is definitely Trump speaking in the video. That should remove all doubt from everyone unless there is a reason a person has trouble with the truth.

        • Submitted by John Webster on 12/07/2017 - 01:25 pm.


          In that tape, Trump said that when a man is rich and famous, many women LET him grab them by the *****. He was appallingly vulgar and immature for a 59 year old man, but he didn’t actually admit to assault, although I don’t doubt that he did things as bad and probably worse than Franken did. The difference here is that the voters knew about the allegations against Trump, and he was elected anyway (Hillary only had a plurality of the popular vote; if the other candidates’ votes had been apportioned to Trump or Clinton according to ideological disposition, the popular vote would have been a statistical dead heat). Had Minnesota voters heard about Franken’s actions before the 2014 election, no way would he have been re-elected.

          All this hoopla will result in a left-wing female Democratic appointee from Minnesota, and a right-wing Republican appointee from Alabama after Roy Moore is expelled in a few months or is not seated after his election next Tuesday. In other words, stalemate.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/07/2017 - 12:48 pm.

        Which left wing Democrat?

        I would Franken would be replaced by a left wing Democrats but I don’t fits that description currently. The problem with moving Ellison over to the Senate is it opens up a vacancy in the House. If Moore gets elected Republicans will never expel him, they’ll be happy to have his vote.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/07/2017 - 01:14 pm.

        “Roy Moore will be expelled from the Senate”

        When pigs fly. The excuse for seating him will be that it was up to the voters of Alabama to judge and anyway, it happened a long time ago, before he was elected to the Senate.

  4. Submitted by Sandra Marks on 12/07/2017 - 10:48 am.

    The women…

    do not need relief or benefit from sharing their stories. Women JUST WANT IT TO STOP in the workplace!!! That’s all…nothing more…period.

  5. Submitted by Thomas Edman on 12/07/2017 - 12:01 pm.

    His marriage?


    I am stunned that you presume to judge that Franken’s behavior would threaten his marriage.

    I am deeply offended that you would choose to include a comment about something so intimate and personal as his marriage in your response to Franken’s situation.

    Perhaps you meant it sympathetically, but it came across as salacious gossip, unworthy of you or MinnPost.

  6. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 12/07/2017 - 03:51 pm.

    Please: Let’s keep in mind that Al Franken did not harass any woman in her workplace (I don’t regard the UFO performer’s claims to be harassment). All those photo ops were stranger-to-stranger, in public view, with the women asking Franken to take the photos in close-up. With him embracing them.

    In no case did Al Franken have any power relationship with the women who claim that he groped them while the picture was being taken.

    And that’s the extent of Franken’s offenses, at least as we know from several named, and several anonymous, accusers.

    Al Franken has been thrown under the Democratic Party’s national bus, for political advantage to the party. The party refused to risk having other opportunists come forward with claims of Franken touching them during photo ops–kind of like the WikiLeaks drip-drip-drip of John Podesta’s emails in 2016–and insisted he be denied due process so the party could have the sexual abuse upper hand in the battle with the GOP.

    And I must add: In an atmosphere where due process is brushed aside for everyone, it is very, very easy and without consequences for the accuser, to come to a news source anonymously with any claim. Those against Franken don’t seem all to hold the same amount of water, in my opinion, especially the last couple.

  7. Submitted by Michael Burke on 12/12/2017 - 12:39 pm.

    Al Franken got railroaded – the ethics process should have been allowed to play out.

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