The Bell Tolls For Thee, Al Franken

THURSDAY UPDATE: Senator Al Franken announces he will resign “in the coming weeks.”


Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).

CNN reporting:

Embattled Sen. Al Franken will make an announcement Thursday, his office told reporters, as calls for the Minnesota Democrat’s resignation rapidly gained momentum Wednesday in dramatic fashion.

Twenty-eight Democratic senators — 13 female and 15 male including the second-ranking Democrat in chamber — called on Franken to resign as allegations of sexual harassment against him continue to mount. Republican Sen. Susan Collins also called on Franken to quit.

In a statement on Facebook, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wrote: “While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve.”

The list of Democratic Senators calling on Sen. Al Franken to resign amid dogpiling allegations of sexual harassment includes Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado:

And it is increasingly expected that Sen. Franken will announce his resignation tomorrow. Politically this is consequential for Democrats, likely forcing them to unexpectedly defend two Senate seats in Minnesota in 2018. But as the allegations continued to mount against Franken from a numerous disconnected sources, and particularly after the resignation of senior Rep. John Conyers this week, Franken’s position quickly–not quickly enough, say his accusers–became untenable.

So here’s another prominent Democrat who has been held accountable for his sexual misdeeds.

When Roy Moore is sworn in to the U.S. Senate, and the next Access Hollywood-style allegation against the President of the United States gets denied, the difference in the response by the parties is going to stand out in very harsh relief. From Washington D.C. to the Colorado General Assembly, a double standard is emerging between the parties in response to sexual harassment allegations that voters in 2018 may show very little tolerance for.

In which case Democrats losing their jobs now may have lots of company later from the other side.

30 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    Lebsock and Baumgardner need to join him.

  2. spaceman65 says:

    Yep, Al needs to go.  So does Roy.  So does Donald.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      yes Will Democrats still have these same principles when they are pushing someone out of a risky seat? (No Democratic governor to safely appoint another Democrat, Trump-voting district or state)….

      I'd like to think so. For sure, Republicans won't sacrifice even one legislator without the proverbial dead girl or live boy in the bed, en flagrante delicto. Spare the lecture about how victims matter more, Psuedo, I think I know that. I just don't know if this newfound moral purity on our part will stand the test of realpolitik.

      And I'd like to see some real, consistent policy and procedure changes, not this hodgepodge of IOKIAR and IOKIAD, and "due process unless or if" etc.

      As a cultural change, it is liberating and powerful that victims don't have to keep quiet about assaultive incidents anymore. But there is absolutely still no guarantee of safety for accusers or consequences for accused, and until some solid policies are in place and enforced, there won't be.

      • Meiner49erMeiner49er says:

        I'm with you Mama! As individuals, we can celebrate this day and the Progress it marks for equality. As a Party, we'll wake up and realize we sacrificed many of our own only to learn that the American public now believes it is Democrats that have a problem with sexual predation.

  3. itlduso says:

    This is political assassination and it's ridiculous.  In this case, the standard has been lowered to the male libido.  The criminal nature of Franken's behavior is barely perceptible.  Is use of a prostitute disqualifying? (Bye bye Senators A and B). Is having an affair disqualifying?  (Bye bye Senators C, D and E).  I would venture that way over half of our male senators have engaged in Franken's level of misbehavior, or worse, sometime in their lives  (most if not all of Franken's  acts occurred before he was even a senator, I believe.) 

    Assassination robs us of the target's contributions to political discourse.  It should be reserved for the most heinous acts.  Senator Al  Franken's behavior can be called out,  he can be shamed and promise to do better, and life goes on.  But, if he is forced out, then every other politician's life should also be closely scrutinized  and punished equally.  Welcome to the Inquisition.

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      The criminal nature of Franken's behavior is barely perceptible

      There is that photo of him with that cheesy grin holding his hands over that sleeping woman's breasts.

      You are correct that Franken's transgressions are not as egregious as Roy Moore's kiddie diddling, but that doesn't exonerate Franken. It just makes his conduct less wrong. IMHO, neither Moore nor Franken should sit in the U.S. Senate.

      By the way, I am not an Al Franken hater. I always thought he was a mediocre comedian but I thought he did an outstanding job in questioning Beauregard Sessions during the confirmation hearings last January.

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        But do you think that Democrats are pushing Franken out merely to be able to posture as the "moral high road" party, a position they will forsake as soon as an accused Dem is from an at risk seat?

        Because that's what I think.

        I definitely have mixed feelings about the "Me too" movement. It is empowering to be telling the truth, for sure, and it does help to raise awareness that we live in a global culture where the norm is sexism and male supremacy.

        That was not an invitation to all Polsters to tell me how they're exceptionally non sexist, or not to be a man-hating bit*h. I know you probably are, and I'm not.

        I still cringe at every new "Me too" revelation, and not just because of past incidents in my own life.  Especially if it's a known and revered Democrat like Conyers, or even a pretty-good Democrat like Franken or (yes) Lebsock. I expect hypocrisy and betrayal from right wing "Christian" men. From a brother-in-arms, an ally, it's also a betrayal of principles as well as his coworkers and colleagues.

        Let me say it clearly one more time: I just want a

        Consistent. Fair. Transparent. Bipartisan.Process. to be adopted by all members of Congress in dealing with ethics problems, including past sexual transgressions.

        • itlduso says:

          Oh mama, so you want politics to be "consistent, fair", blah, blah.  So, let's talk politics.  Let me remind you that Al Franken beat Norm Coleman by about 100 votes in 2008.  (He won by 53 -47 in 2014 against someone else.)  Norm Coleman will crawl out from under his rock and run against whoever replaces Franken.  It could very well be a close contest.  The result of your willingness to politically assassinate Franken could be losing a progressive vote for a Neanderthal vote.  Your desire for moral purity puts you in the Ralph Nader and Jill Stein camp. 

          We are so screwed.

          • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

            itlduso, you should actually read my posts before imputing a quest for "moral purity" to me. I actually don't think that is a likely or desirable outcome. I'm cynical about it, to say the least.

            I thought I had been pretty clear that Dems need a clear process to remove people for ethics violations (including sexual misbehavior) . This would preclude forcing Franken out on the basis of allegations prior to investigation, or in your words "political assassination". 

            So you wanna "punch the hippie", find someone else that fits the bill better than I do.

            • itlduso says:

              Mama, your initial post above indicates that you agree that Franken should have resigned when you responded with a "thumbs up" to Spaceman's comment that "Al needs to go".  Yet, now you say that a process is needed for removing people for ethics violations that would preclude forcing Franken out.  Which is it?!? 

              And, your wish in bold type for a "consistent", blah, blah, "bipartisan", blah, blah process for "all members of Congress", blah, blah is just the fairy unicorn dust I expect from a hippie. 

              Meanwhile, in the real world, the GOP is already salivating at the prospect of picking up this MN seat.  Still feeling smug?

              We are so screwed.

              PS, I guess I am going to have to ask each politician that calls for my money/support if they have anything, and I mean anything, that they have done in their past that would embarrass them, and me.

              • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

                Spaceman said "Al needs to go. Also Donald and Roy".  My yes was more for the latter two than the 1st, but I can see the confusion. I think Al should have the opportunity to clear his name. I also think he probably acted like an entitled dickwad, and deserves at least a public shaming. I'm on the fence about him losing his legislative seat. I was happy when he was elected, and I think I actually did remote calling to GOTV in Minnesota.

                If truth be told, I agree with you more than disagree. But you go on and enjoy your righteous fury.

                A quest for a fair, bipartisan, consistent, transparent ethics policy is no more "fairy unicorn dust" than universal health care, the Clean Power Plan, net neutrality rules, or any number of moderately liberal policies enacted in the Obama era.

                It's all about who's in power and how much pressure they feel from constituents vs. big-$$ donors.

                • VoyageurVoyageur says:

                  If you reallybelieve in bipartisan reforms in this era, mj, then you believe unicorn farts can cure cancer.

                  See the collected works of Zappaterro for more detail.


                  • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

                    I didn't say that I believe bipartisan reforms are doable with this congress – but 2018 and 2020 are another story, and why not state what you really want? No matter how unlikely it seems at the moment.

                    I want meaningful policy change – not more "me too" stories and hypocritical posturing.

                    I hope that Democrats, at least, will propose some of those changes…along with their moral purity of "At least we make our predators resign, niener niener."

                    But, per usual, V, you're misstating my positions so that you can knock your rhetorical straw man down.  The unicorn fart cancer cure ? …let us know how that works out.

                    Preserving net neutrality and killing the tax bill are what I'm writing my reps about now, though-  although they don't seem to respond to any of it. Still, we all do what we can.

        • RepealAndReplace says:

          You may be right. Sacrificing Franken doesn't cost the Democrats anything. Unfortunately as more nasty behavior comes out, there may be opportunities to test your theory once a Democratic predator from  swing state is exposed.

      • itlduso says:

        "Cheesy" photo and "mediocre comedian"?  That's all you got?  I would expect you to stop blogging here if you have done anything in your life that rises to these offenses.  Ana Marie Cox on "Morning Joe" this morning noted how ashamed she is for having defended (enabled) Bill Clinton for not calling for his resignation.  Yet, she conveniently allows herself a pass so that she can continue her pundit career. 

        The inability of our country, including now the Dems, to deal with nuance will destroy us.  Specifically, I am concerned that no matter what Mueller finds out about Trump there will be no action taken by the House GOP regarding impeachment.  So, the GOP House that impeached Clinton for lying about a sex incident will not impeach Trump for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, money laundering, collusion with the Russians, etc., etc. 

        Because of responses like yours and others on this site, I say again, "We are so screwed."



        • RepealAndReplace says:

          Well in addition to the cheesy grin on his face, was there not one or more women who came forward to report that his tongue made uninvited attempted entries into her/their mouth(s)?

          I'm old enough to remember Bob Packwood (R-OR) who was forced out for placing his uninvited tongue in the mouths of various women. Ironically, it was Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who led the charge against Packwood. My how times have changed.

          BTW itlduso, if what Al Franken did was so insufficient to warrant removal and if he was being railroaded out of office, why did he not stand his ground and defend himself ?

          • Diogenesdemar says:

            Somewhere McConnell is smiling in his grave . . . 

            Post hoc ergo propter hoc?? . . . 

            . . . Why do I sometimes feel these days like logic has become so last-millennium?

            It’s really strange (?) to call on someone to “do the decent thing,” and then use that “decency” as “proof” of their indecency*.


            *Moderatus and White-House spokeshills excluded.

  4. ZappateroZappatero says:

    Bennet better be willing to take on McConnell and Moore and Hatch and Collins and all the rest of those fucking lying amoral hideous monsters and stop with the "professional courtesy" bullshit. 

    He triangulated against Obama and played dumb for 6 years. 

    He's willing to dump Franken, then he needs to quit playing dumb about, and giving undue deference to, his "Esteemed Friends on the other side of the aisle."

    This is no game. Republicans always play for the kill. When it comes to Roberts Rules of Order, they’ll stab him in the heart and laugh as he drowns on his own warm blood rather than play by the rules that our Dear Michael Bennet wishes they’d play by.

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      Bennet better be willing to take on McConnell

      Or what? Are you going to stand in the corner and hold your breath until he does?

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        When Bennett learns that Zappy, among his biggest fans here on Pols, might be losing patience and abandon him, I’m sure the Senator will change the way he does things.  Pronto.

        Zapster can breath easy . . .

  5. allyncooper says:

    In the interests of revisionist history and political correctness we must repeal and replace the presidency of John F. Kennedy.  Its the right thing to do.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      Gee Allyn. How old are you? I was about 11 years old or so when Kennedy was shot. Eisenhower had his famous affair during WW II from what I've read. Harding was a notorious womanizer, again from reading. At this point in time, bringing up affairs of a president long dead seems hardly relevant at all.

  6. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    Impeach Andrew Jackson!


  7. itlduso says:

    Another Dem bites the dust.  Harold Ford, Jr. fired from MorganStanley for past indiscretion:

    So, I guess we won't get to hear his Dem perspective on MSNBC shows.  (I'm not a great fan of his, but nevertheless.)  We continue to eat our own while the GOP gets stronger relying on "political correctness gone wild" and "we forgive our own for their sins" excuses. 

    We are chumps and we are so screwed.

  8. Diogenesdemar says:

    It’s interesting how the course of history flows from action to action . . .

    . . . for instance, ponder how this conversation today might be different had Bill Clinton been selected as FLOTUS* by the Electoral College last December?  Would we even still be having this conversation, today?

    *First Lecher of the United States

  9. JohnInDenver says:

    For all of you bemoaning the Democrats giving up and the Republicans never giving an inch, can we at least wait until we get the votes on next Tuesday?

    There could be enough of a backlash to push a Democrat into a win for a nearly 4-year seat as a Senator. From Alabama.

    If Moore wins by the initially expected bigly margin, THEN we can bemoan. In the meantime, can we just wait a few minutes?

  10. DavieDavie says:

    Regarding Franken's resignation and what it may mean in future elections:

    Franken Is Leaving and Trump Is Still Here

    Franken noted the asymmetry in his resignation speech: “I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.”

    This irony reveals the limits of the #MeToo movement. This week, Time magazine named those who’ve spoken out against sexual harassment — collectively called “The Silence Breakers” — as its Person of the Year. “When multiple harassment claims bring down a charmer like former ‘Today’ show host Matt Lauer, women who thought they had no recourse see a new, wide-open door,” the cover article says. In truth, however, this new door is open for only some people — those whose harassers are either personally or professionally susceptible to shame.

    Democrats, by and large, want their politicians held accountable. Republicans, by contrast, just want Democratic politicians held accountable. In a November HuffPost/YouGov survey, a majority of both Democrats and Republicans said sexual harassment is either a very serious or a somewhat serious problem in the Democratic Party. Only 36 percent of Republicans said the same about the Republican Party. Most Republicans said that Franken should resign, but only 31 percent said Moore should drop out.

    As Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber who exposed a pervasive culture of sexual harassment at that company, told Time: “When Trump won the election, I felt a crushing sense of powerlessness. And then I realized that I had to do something.”

    For doing something, she and all the others who have exposed the sexual degradation that mars so many professional lives deserve our gratitude and admiration. They’ve made things tangibly better for the women in their industries. But ultimately, the cultural currency of the #MeToo movement is not a substitute for political power. The incendiary rage unleashed by Trump’s election needs to be directed back at him. Otherwise, only those who already advocate women’s equality will be forced to grant it.

  11. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    Deleted duplicate

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.