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Franken's rapid ouster from Senate prompts backlash among his Minnesota supporters

Franken's rapid ouster from Senate prompts backlash
REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Sen. Al Franken departing the U.S. Capitol with his wife, Franni, after announcing his resignation last Tuesday.

Early in the morning of Wednesday, December 6, Sen. Al Franken was in the middle of a week back at work in the U.S. Senate, attempting to weather a scandal sparked by allegations from six women that he groped them or forcibly kissed them in incidents occurring from 2003 to a few years ago.

He was cooperating with a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into his conduct, and he was beginning the long process of winning back Minnesotans’ trust.

On Thursday, December 7, Franken was on the Senate floor announcing his intent to resign from office. In the intervening 24 hours, two new allegations had surfaced against him, prompting a wave: dozens of Franken’s colleagues in the Senate, several top Democratic officials, and some Minnesota members of Congress called for his resignation in the span of just a few hours.

It happened fast. In the eyes of a faction of Minnesota Democrats, independents, and even some Republicans, Franken’s ouster happened too fast, denying the senator a fair shot to keep his job and Minnesotans to have a say in his fate.

Plenty of Democrats believed Franken made the right move. Franken’s continued presence in the Senate, to some of them, was a liability for a party trying to stake out a moral and political high ground on sexual harassment. Looming large is Tuesday’s U.S. Senate election in Alabama, where GOP candidate Roy Moore stands accused of sexually assaulting, harassing, and pursuing several young women.

But many Democrats feel a deep sense of anger over how Franken was ousted and are grieving the loss of a politician they had come to see as a singular champion for the party, and for Minnesota. That could have consequences for 2018: The souring reaction to Franken’s departure could complicate Democrats’ efforts to move past this ordeal and retain this Senate seat ahead of a much-anticipated appointment from Gov. Mark Dayton, and what should be a contentious special election next November.

A ‘rush to punishment’

To Terry Gydesen, a photographer from Minneapolis, the day of Franken’s resignation announcement felt like another momentous and painful day in Minnesota political history: October 25, 2002, the day former Sen. Paul Wellstone and his wife were killed in a plane crash.

“Except Al’s not dead,” she added.

Gydesen’s outlook on the allegations against Franken, and the way he was pushed out, embody the views of a vocal group of liberals taking to social media in outrage in the wake of his ouster. She believes the allegations against Franken are either overblown or fabricated, and believes the scramble of Senate Democrats to show him the door was unfair and politically motivated. (Full disclosure: Gydesen has taken photographs for MinnPost stories in the past.)

“The rush to judgment on this, not giving him a fair hearing in the Ethics Committee that he himself called for… He apologized very graciously to [Leeann] Tweeden, she accepted his apology, she didn’t feel he should step down.” Gydesen mentioned Tweeden’s alleged connection to Donald Trump ally and conservative provocateur Roger Stone, which has been the subject of intense buzz among liberals.

Comedian Tom Arnold claimed on Twitter that Stone “coached” the former model in her accusation of Franken — the first one that was public — fueling the sense of conspiracy among Franken supporters. (There is no public evidence that Tweeden was coached, or that her story was part of a deliberate strategic play by allies of the president.)

State Rep. Tina Liebling
State Rep. Tina Liebling

DFL state Rep. Tina Liebling, who is a candidate for governor, has publicly criticized how quickly Franken was ousted before allowing the Senate Ethics Committee to complete its investigation.

The day after Franken announced his intent to resign, Liebling sent out a fundraising letter saying Democrats “did not need to push Franken out to show that Democrats have the ‘moral high ground’ and are ‘for women’… If you want a governor who stands up for what is right and does not fold under pressure, please support our campaign.”

On Monday, Liebling told MinnPost the reaction she’s received from her letter has been overwhelmingly positive. “I’ve had a lot of Democrats approach me in person, and DFLers are pretty angry about this,” she says. “They feel that people in Washington made the decision, they feel like it’s unilateral disarmament on the part of Democrats.”

The Rochester Democrat lamented what she called a “hyper-partisan” environment around the claims. “Here was Al Franken who was, really, at the forefront of the resistance. These allegations, even if they’re true, don’t rise to the level of what Trump has admitted doing.”

She added that if the allegations against Franken were shown to be credible through an Ethics Committee process, then it would be reasonable for him to resign. “I don’t think we got to that point,” she said.

“I was very disappointed he decided to step down. I felt he was forced out, without any real opportunity to present his side or to have a real vetting of what happened.”

Liebling and Gydesen were both on a list of 84 Democratic women in Minnesota who signed a message of support for Franken before he announced his intent to resign. Alexandra Fetissoff, a former aide to Franken who has been circulating that list, told MinnPost that no woman has asked for their name to be removed since Senate Democrats called en masse for the senator to leave office.

“There was irony in a sense of, so much of what he did in his Senate career was to fight for people to have their day in court, and he wasn’t afforded that same opportunity,” she said.

Time to ‘sober up’

It’s not just Democrats voicing unease over the circumstances of Franken’s ouster, either.

Former Gov. Arne Carlson, a Republican who served from 1991 to 1999, issued a lengthy statement on Sunday, framing the saga as an “unacceptable” rush to punishment, raising the specter of a right-wing conspiracy against the senator, and advocating for him to take back his resignation.

Former Gov. Arne Carlson
MinnPost file photo by James Nord
Former Gov. Arne Carlson

“I am deeply troubled by the resignation of Al Franken and the complete absence of anything resembling due process,” Carlson wrote.

“It is time for all of us to sober up. Our nation is in peril with Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans yielding to his demands… The simple fact is that Al Franken has been the Senate’s most effective challenge to Trump and his subordinates,” he said.

“The possibility of any rigging by Roger Stone and his associates should cause all of us to call for a rescinding of the Franken resignation and a prompt and thorough review of all allegations by the Senate Ethics Committee.”

Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush White House, issued a statement on Friday, saying as a Minnesota voter, he was “outraged by the fact that the senator chosen to represent our state is pressured by Senate colleagues representing other states to resign because of unproven allegations.”

Consequences for 2018

There are plenty of theories floating on the internet surrounding the nature of Franken’s departure; notably, whether or not Franken has possibly given himself room to stay in office by announcing his intent to resign and not making it immediate.

Supporters like Gydesen have shared petitions with hundreds of signatures demanding that Franken stay. But it seems he will go, leaving Dayton with the difficult task of appointing a successor.

Terry Gydesen
MinnPost photo by Jana Freiband
Terry Gydesen

Some DFL insiders worry the perception that Franken was pushed out by Washington Democrats could make the party’s efforts to hold the seat more difficult. The blowback to the Franken ordeal, and the way other Democrats responded, could spill over into other critical Minnesota races next year, including the open-seat governor’s race.

To Gydesen, it is disqualifying for State Auditor Rebecca Otto and State Rep. Erin Murphy, two DFL candidates for governor, to have called for Franken’s resignation shortly after Tweeden’s initial allegation and photo were made public.

“Anyone who rushed to that conclusion won’t get my support. I don’t know who I’m going to be able to vote for,” she said, suggesting she might vote for a third-party candidate.

Liebling said she’s heard from Democrats who say they are so disgusted over the whole episode that they won’t give the party, or its candidates, any more money.

“A lot of people felt it was completely political,” she said. “There’s a lot of anger and disappointment at what happened… The sense among Democrats is, now we have another race, and a bunch of additional concerns about keeping the seat.”

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Comments (36)

Railroads

It's becoming a problem. I don't usually speak to Democrats in off years. The people I hang with really do need the break. But even I am sensing tremors out there, the kind that may or may not signal a possible earthquake. What aggravated me was the Strib's demand for Al's resignation. Somehow I lack confidence in the political sophistication of an editorial board that thought Paulsen's membership on Ways and Means was a reason for Minnesotans to re-elect him.

The Strib

The Strib has made a strong turn to the right under its new management. There's even less reason to take their editorials seriously.

media should provide objective reporting only

Agreed. I no longer subscribe to either paper, because both have too strong of a R slant. Reading them makes my blood pressure rise too high. I write notes in the columns. I mutter to myself. Family members strongly suggested I stopped reading both publications:)

Medias' job should be to gather the facts scrupulously and present them objectively, without feeling or opinion. It is the readers' job then to read it all, assimilate it and make informed choices when voting.

Your concept of "Media's job" is a fantasy...

...in the sense that virtually NO ONE in political media reporting subscribes to it. They universally practice reporting a mixture of fact and opinion, further laced with implications, innuendo, and biased language.

Will you please tell me which

Will you please tell me which newspaper “gather the facts scrupulously and present them objectively, without feeling or opinion?”

Franken has not filed any of

Franken has not filed any of the necessary paperwork to withdraw from the Senate. What's the hold up?

Word on the street is he's waiting for Moore to be elected today, declare "psych!", and take his seat.

Personally, I think that would be double plus good stuff.

Either way, the Franken debacle is Moar Winning for the GOP.

Blowback!

"'I don’t know who I’m going to be able to vote for,' she said, suggesting she might vote for a third-party candidate."

Brilliant idea! Let's punish the DFL and the national Democratic Party by voting for someone who has no chance of winning! That will fix them! Some retrograde Republican will be put in the Governor's office, and maybe we can send a Trump-supporting lickspittle to the Senate, and boy, won't the party be sorry! Gosh, they will be so contrite that in the next election cycle, we will see good progressives running, sweeping into office with strong popular support.

That could happen. Or, more likely, the retrograde Republicans will do such thoroughgoing damage to the state that it will take years to clean up the mess.

The phrase "elections have consequences" means more than "yes, they determine who holds office." The consequences include setting state policy on environmental regulation, education, labor relations, criminal justice, infrastructure spending, etc., etc. I'm thinking that may be just a little more important than smacking the hands of some office-holders.

I really believe...

The national Democrats scored an "own goal" on this one. There will be unintended consequences.

you got that right

Democrats are frustrated, wanted to look tough on an issue, but this is pointless, futile and wrong.

Doubtful

I doubt the suggestion that the party "encouragement" for Franken's resignation could have consequences in the 2018 election. Those most disturbed by it (e.g. the "sacrificial lamb" folks) are hard-core Democrats and they are going to vote for the Democratic candidate next fall regardless. I haven't seen any polls, but suspect more Minnesotans approve of his resignation than there are those who are resentful.

Yes, and

It's much easier to see the political cost of keeping him on the ticket in 2020, when he would still have to answer questions about his personal behavior.

Franken Replacement

I am opposed to a caretaker replacement. Caratakers keep the floors mopped and the furniture dusted. What we need is a person with values, ideas and motivations similar to Franken's and Wellstone's. Whether the appointee is short term or a future candidate should not interfere with the real work that needs doing.

Did you ever consider...

I am a DFL Franken supporter but I've heard too much of this rhetoric trying to build sides within the party. At the time of his announcement nobody forced him out of his senate seat. He decided to step down. Did you ever consider that Franken challenged the Ethics Committee to investigate him but when they began he quickly announced that he would soon step down, perhaps avoiding their findings? He sounded surprised that he was making women uncomfortable with his "warm" nature and might have thought that there could be many more on the horizon.

Fumbled response

This entire episode was fumbled from the very beginning. Franken just disappeared for what? A week and a half? Then when he responded, it was more of a non-response that more or less confirmed the original accusation. Having set course in that direction the other accusations emerged and Franken apparently didn't think he could deny them even though he says some of them were false.

Meanwhile his own party jumped ship and pushed him out.

Now what?

This whole episode of a scandal and controversy derailing a Democrat is eerily familiar. More than anything else it tells me that Democrats may not be any closer to finding their footing now than they were a year ago. If this is the way Democrats and Franken handle something like this, it's a good thing this came out now and in the middle of a presidential campaign.

Window dressing

Put Tim Pawlenty back in office and Franken would have been defended for due process by all the Ds who called for his head. More cynical gamesmanship by the party that would like to be the opposite of Trumpian excess.

Democrat Playbook

Everyone is entitled to having a chance to defend themselves and say their side of the story. We have become a mob mentality where shoot first and ask questions later (or not if there is no need).
What we are seeing from Democrats is the usual tactic of anger justifies swift action, facts be darned. And now, in their quest of trying to hold the higher moral ground, they eliminate two of their own, Conyers and Franken, before any investigation can be completed or potentially even started. Yes there is the payoff by Conyers and a telling picture of Franken. Still, they should get their due process.
But because the Democrats are so angry at the President and also add in Roy Moore, they want to make it seem they are the better group to put into office. No one will forget that these same people that turned on Conyers and Franken supported President Clinton, though he had numerous allegations against him and still preyed on young women while in the White House plus arranged for his wife, who lashed out and blamed those accusers, to win the primary for last year's election. The track record for Democrats of the ends to justify the means will never end, no matter who they take out in their way.

Curiouser and Curiouser!

It's interesting how Republicans have become such full-throated advocates of "due process" for Senator Franken. Could it be that they have discovered some principles, and that they believe in fair treatment for "Angry Al" who "stole" the election from Senator Coleman?

Or could it be that they relished the thought of some salacious sideshow that would have left a respected progressive voice squirming, and perhaps even forced out of the Senate? Were they having fever dreams of reviving the Russ Meyers outtakes that were the Clinton scandals ("See? All Democrats do it!")?Did they think the public was going to get a distraction from the train wreck that is the Trump administration?

No, he went and resigned. In the spirit of bipartisanship, he should have stayed to give the Republicans a scandal they could hammer on for the next two decades. Now, we might have to look at the behavior of the President, or face the possibility of dealing with a Senator Roy Moore. It's just not fair.

This whole things is ridiculous

I liked and supported Al too. He was a very good Senator. But he became a liability, with new allegations every week or so, and the decided appearance that they would keep coming.

This suggestion that several Democratic staffers and fundraiser attendees were somehow put up to it by shadowy forces is exactly the kind of motivated reasoning that leads Alabama voters to ignore the the allegations against Roy Moore. They don't want to believe, so they don't.

Instead, it's possible that generally good people sometimes do bad things. In Al's case, probably without ever really stopping to think about how they are harmful or wrong. It's all just playful, he may have thought.

We're not doing that any more. We're believing women - because lying about assault is a thing that happens only very rarely (who would lie when you're going to get smeared as a tool of Roger Stone, or worse?) - and because we all know that inappropriate behavior toward women is literally everywhere.

We need drastic change in the direction of respecting women. By resigning, Al is part of that. If he stayed, he'd have been an obstacle. He did the right thing. You can respect him for that too.

"Perception"?

The "perception" he was forced out? Seriously?

He was thrown under the bus by a few Democrats who think they can mount an attack on Trump based on harassment allegations, and felt they needed to make a big show of Franken's so-called case. That attack will totally fail, and I think we all know it. Trump's supporters don't care, and Democrats have no leverage that could force him to resign.

We'll end up with Trump, and without Al Franken, and nothing to show for all this but an out-of-control witch hunt. A huge mistake by Democrats.

Being a progressive

Progressives point out injustices and try to fix them. No question that how powerful men sexually harass and assault often without punishment is evil. Demoocrats, including Franken, have advocated for making this dubious tradition go away, a massive challenge.

It involves breaking old habits, lmew legislation and social norms enforcement with consequences that fit the offense.

Clearly Republicans are not ready to work on this. Part of the charm of being a rich conservative is doing whatever you please, hurting others willy nilly and experiencing no guilt of consequences.

That is Trump who brags about sexual assault and harasses women every day.

So Democrats are doing all the heavy lifting and being thoughtful people whose thinking is evolving, they disagree. That is what Democrats do and our of these debates has come many great ideas.

So, if someone actually assaults a women, it should be eas - time for the crime. Republicans offer excuses - I didn't even know her, she was willingly, or she got drunk or encouraged me, so we had sex - purely connsentual. And if she doesn't back down with her charges I call her a liar and threaten to sue her. Even if the guys lies are proven, many voters will select him as the less evil.

So on the Rrpublicsn side, what to do is obvious - nothing except blow smoke.

Clearly Democrats had to deal with Franken. There may have been some truth to what the women said, but the first accuser is captured on fillm doing pretty much exactly what Franken did. She also is a Fox News employee. Not too hard that she exaggerated what happened and didn't disclose everything in an attempt to take Frsnkrn down. If she gets a big Foc network job, don't be surprised.

Democrats could hardly move this issue forward by ignoring what Franken did. I would have preferred Franken have his day in court, but Franken himself drcdided to take one for a good cause. As murder too often goes with de yak assault, he may have saved lives through his decision.

And as his misbehavior is far less bad than with bill Clinton, Moore and Trump did, it pits pressure on all men not to act this way, or suffer consequences.

Should there be lighter vconsewuences for men of character who don't compound their mistake by lying and getting vindictive about it? Of course, but we aren't there yet, is it fair to hold men accountable to new standards. Not really.

Adultery has always been wrong as has been molesting a children. Using your power in coercing a woman to have sex with you or drug her or rape her when she is drunk - most would not approve.

Stealing s kiss and grabbing a butt. Much more common and tolerated. So Franken's punishment was probably too ssdverr given no real proof of guilt, but this was in the court of pounliv opinion, and something was going to happen. He is fact is s martyr to his own cause.

So now let's focus on Rrpublicsns. Until Trump pays for is secusl dins, the change that is needed won't happen.

“Stealing s kiss and grabbing

“Stealing s kiss and grabbing a butt. Much more common and tolerated.” I think that is what Trump is accused of…

Well...

and rape. Statutory and marital. Plus a whole slew or other misogynistic and predatory activities that we have recordings of his admissions on. But I'm sure it was the kissing and butt grabbing that was truly heinous.

Practical options

Dayton could appoint a caretaker and Franken could let the people pass judgment by running for election.

But I think a more sensible option for Dayton would be picking someone with state-wide asppeal who could continue into the election and win. Tim Walz might fit that description, but he already has a well developed gubernatorial campaign. I'd suggest Lori Swanson !.

Blow Back on Franken Resignation

I must start this comment by noting that Tina Liebling sending out a fundraising letter to draw support is, in my view, as raw a political move as she is characterizing the calls for his resignation. Let's just be clear that we are talking about a totally political environment and refrain from claiming any moral ground for ourselves regardless of where we are coming down.

The day after Tweeden made her statement, I called Senator Franken's office expressing my support for him to reject calls for resignation. I wrote an essay that I published on Medium and posted on FB stating my support of him publicly.

I did so identifying myself as a long time Feminist activist in the DFL, as a 40 year veteran of advocacy for victims of sexual and domestic violence, and as someone who spoke out within the party about Al's sexism when he began to make the rounds on the hustings. In the elegant words of one friend and former state legislator who said it well in his post on FB, ..."the Al Franken of 2017 is not the Al Franken I experienced in 2006.

I stood with Senator Franken because the first and most important lesson of advocating for victims of sexual assault or targets of sexual harassment is to empower them to say the outcome they want, and none of the accusers to date explicitly called for him to resign. In my essay (https://medium.com/@rosemaryrocco/may-my-heart-be-kind-my-mind-fierce-an...). In the essay, I endeavored to decouple remedies/punishment from impact on victim/target and illuminate the gradations of harassment and sexual assault and the difference between criminal sexual conduct and harassment.

As the days went on I kept posting and speaking against calls for his resignation from good friends and political women I respect and with whom I respectfully disagreed. There were more than a few slings and arrows that came my way for standing with him given my reputation and work of nearly my whole professional life. The number of women or men in my social media circles speaking out against the calls for his resignation were remarkably thin, but I understood that it was a tricky thing to stand with #metoo and defend Franken. More than one person lectured me on putting "partisan politics aside and stop protecting "our own."

Over the ensuing weeks I continued to stand up for an investigation proceeding with speed. the Ethics Committee investigations have taken years not months and if you check the record, they have not heard or investigated a sexual harassment/misconduct complaint for well over 10 years. The settlements in the news obviously were reached through HR mechanisms with the Ethics Committee simply signing off on the payments.My own view is that if we are going to fault leadership Senator Schumer who is the actual leader of Senate Democrats. Where was his voice pushing McConnell to commence the investigation and to call for the process to be expedited?

When the calls for his resignation began on Wednesday 12/6, I was stunned but understood that the political wind had turned against him--why else would all the women Senators, many of whom he raised money for and were his friends as well as colleagues. For me, it was Senators Patty Murray and Debbie Stabenow standing with Gillibrand and the others that caused my hope for the saga to play out in the Ethics Committee to fade.

I sent a fax to Senator Franken's office that afternoon calling on him to resign and I posted it publicly and I did so because I understood that regardless how I judged the veracity of the accusations his effectiveness in the senate was now greatly diminished. I have now rescinded my call for him to resign because of the overwhelming tide of calls for him to stay--including incredibly touching statements from victims of sexual violence who are now standing with him. I wish all those now speaking publicly now had done so back in November, or as the allegations continued to dribble out. But we all have to deal with now and what is.

In my heart of hearts I hope Governor Dayton will be a courageous statesmen and refuse to accept Senator Franken's resignation. He could do so pointing to the over-whelming support expressed by Minnesota voters. He could do so saying that Minnesota will once again lead in navigating the complexities of gender based violence in a world woke to sexism and continuing Minnesota's history as a leader in anti-sexual violence and domestic violence for over 40 year. He can cite that Minnesota was one of the first states to adopt a criminal sexual conduct statute with degrees of conduct. And must relevant to today, Jensen v. Eveleth mines was a precedent setting case that was in part shepherded by MN Attorney General, and it put women working in the mines it conflict with the Steelworkers union that took a long time coming to their support--think DFL political considerations in that context.

Thank you for writing this thoughtful piece and I can only hope that we have learned the lesson that it is important to stand up and speak out lest the course of events take a turn like this that keeps us fighting with one another rather than our common foes.

timing

The only time it's politically possible to oppose a witch hunt - or a war - is after it's over.

"the Roy Moore of 1972 is not

"the Roy Moore of 1972 is not the Roy Moore I experienced in 2017"

That works quite well Doesn't it?

Harassment As Political Strate

If someone was offended and felt "violated" in 2003, but then sent out pics of themselves cuddling with the "perpetrator: in 2006, why are we so concerned in 2017?

I think Gov. Carlson may be on to something. It is truly curious that this fiasco will rid the US Senate of the most effective anti-Trump voice. If the allegations reported by Gov. Carlson in his Strib editorial are true, we are witnessing a new level of political "dirty tricks

I would encourage Senator Franken to stay the course and wait to be exonerated by the Senate Ethics Committee. Surely he will be at least as effective during the next year as any "newbie" appointed by Governor Dayton, even while answering to the committee
.

I'd Suggest the Gov. Dayton Call B.S. on This Whole Debacle

By simply appointing Al Franken to replace Al Franken.

Then let Minnesota voters sort it out.

Anything else is entirely too likely to take us in the direction that led to the end of Wendy Anderson's political career (may he rest in peace),...

and led to the fabled, "Minnesota Massacre."

It's amazing to me how in rabidly supporting Bernie Sanders while forgetting George McGovern (whom I voted for),...

and now, supporting the resignation and replacement of Sen. Al Franken,...

younger, still wet behind the ears, progressives ignore the history of Minnesota and proclaim to themselves,...

"Everything is different now. Such a thing could NEVER happen again."

When you haven't bothered to look at what happened THEN,...

you don't have a clue what's likely to happen NOW,...

(or understand where Super Delegates came from,...

and why they're still a good idea).

Franken

Was obviously thrown under the bus as a response to Conyers ouster, dems would look like PC hypocrites keeping Franken. The assault charges were focused mostly on dems and their supporters like Weinstein so throwing Al out allowed the dem leadership to flip the issue against Trump n Moore thus the headlines the last few days.

Dems live by the PC and identity politics sword and....you know the rest.

Low Ground

There is no moral "high ground" here. Hounding a reformed man from office based on mere allegations with no process is completely unacceptable in a democratic society. It is the same kind of witch hunt that attacked Communists and other radicals. Sexual Harassment may be a legitimate concern, but the behavior that ensued, from allegations in the media to a hounding from office should give all Democrats cause for concern, and all the Congressmen who did this, should be ousted from office. Justice does not pause for Feminists, but they don't seem to realize it applies to them. Principles cut both ways, not just the way you want. Women will never have control over men, and vice-versa. Everyone involved should be thoroughly embarrassed.

Political atmospherics

I thought and hoped Sen. Franken would at least hang on until the Senate Ethics investigation sorted out these allegations. Especially now that it seems political operative Roger Stone was involved behind the scenes with at least one of the accusers. I too believe the affair smacks of "dirty tricks" of the sort Roger ("The Clinton's War On Women") Stone is associated.

But if it's true that ethics investigations can drag on for years, I can understand why timing is so important. Doug Jones won the Alabama election but only by a hair. It's conceivable that the Dem. pols. were right that Franken's presence swung enough votes to carry him over the line. I expect to hear arguments claiming that this is true. (Even though it's an example of "post hoc ergo proper hoc fallacy" that pervades politics). On the other hand, if Moore had been elected, does anyone seriously believe that the GOP controlled Senate would have uttered a murmur of protest against seating him, even symbolically? It would have been another example of Republicans not playing by rules which years ago were observed by both parties but which today are only observed by Democrats.

To me this proves that the Franken affair is mostly, if not all, about "political atmospherics". Franken's rising star as a progressive in the Senate was partly a function of his symbolic role as a champion of women's rights. Each allegation against Franken was unprovable in any legal sense. Franken could not rebut the effects of independent, multiple allegations from different women. His symbolic role as a champion of women's rights was irreversibly damaged along with his rising star as a progressive.

Franken can resign now, run again

Minnesota voters should know what they are getting. This didn't happen last time. To be fair, the definition of what as relevant to voter choice has changed since the last Senate election. But things have definitely changed. You can't have a backside-rubber in elected office. Maybe the Senator has stopped rubbing backsides; maybe he remembers more now; maybe he is sorry. Let him demonstrate that and run again. Show me the informed choice.

It’s interesting that some

It’s interesting that some Democrats defend Franken but not Moore or Trump. Can we have some consistency, please?

Defending Franken

It is interesting that many Republicans called for Franken's resignation but not Moore or Trump. Can we have some consistency please?

Really?

If the level of allegations against Moore or Trump rose only to the level of Franken, I'd be on their side. But the differences are these:

Trump has not only been accused of rape at least twice (his ex wife said so under oath), but he's openly admitted to /at least/ boorish behavior, including predatory "inspection" of underage girls, forced kissing and genital groping.

Moore has lied about knowing any of his underage girlfriends (not all of them have accused him of wrongdoing, btw) and victims when there is very clear evidence he knew them. In addition, in separate accounts from law enforcement and business owners, there was acknowledgment that they kept an eye out for Moore because of his predatory behavior at the mall.

In each of the above cases, actual predatory and/or criminal behavior was chronicled either by the perpetrator (Trump) or a third party (e.g., Ivana Trump and cops/mall employees). In each case, the veracity of the accused's statements can easily be disproven or reasonably questioned.

In the case of Franken, there is one picture taken as a joke with no contact and plenty of evidence that the alleged victim engaged in similar behavior during the same tour. The rest are simply claims with no evidence and no corroboration. At worst, Franken would be guilty of what pretty much every TV and moviemaker would have thought to be a funny joke as recently as 2016. For crying out loud, the godawful "It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie" (2003), and Kermit had his rear end at least openly admired by another muppet (if not grabbed--I wasn't paying close attention at that time, the movie was pretty awful). Not surprisingly, none of the muppets were accused of rape or pedophilia, let alone made jokes about it.

Who are those Republicans? On

Who are those Republicans? On the other hand, I was mostly talking about Democrats in Minnesota…