Al Franken, who has been continuously in the news for four sexual allegations that have recently come to light, claims to be “ashamed” of being caught, though he claims he has a different recollection of events than that offered by his accusers. Either way, the sexual misconduct allegations around Franken continue to deepen.
Al Franken is the junior Democrat Senator from Minnesota, and up until this year, it was thought that he might be presidential material in the near future. However, on November 16th of 2017, Al Franken was accused of sexual assault by a Mrs. Tweeden, with whom Franken had performed during a USO tour for the troops in the Middle East. There is photographic evidence of him groping her while she slept, and he has since apologized for his misconduct in the picture, though not for aggressively forcing her to kiss him while ‘practicing’ a skit.
Four days later, a second accuser came forward, Lindsay Menz, and claimed that Franken had inappropriately touched her buttocks while posing for a picture at the Minnesota State Fair. On November 23, Al Franken issued her an ‘apology’ that sounds less like an apology and more like him making excuses, saying in part “I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t remember taking this picture. I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”
Since then, two more unidentified women have come forward with similar allegations, saying it occurred during 2007 and 2008 at political events. On November 26, speaking at his daughter’s home in a 35-minute interview, Franken attempted an apology yet again.
On Sunday the 26th Franken said “I’m not going to make any excuses. I am embarrassed and ashamed, of some of what has come out.” He continued on to say that he can “understand I am going to have to do everything I can going forward to be enormously sensitive, I apologize to these women.”
Franken avoided saying the Leeann Tweeden’s account of his sexual assault of her is accurate, simply stating “My recollection is different than hers. I apologized to her and meant it and she was gracious enough to accept my apology.” He goes on to state that what he is most sorry for is the picture, saying “The picture was inexcusable and that is what I am most ashamed for.”
Leeann Tweeden did, in fact, accept the Senator’s apology, even though he seems to refuse to apologize for his conduct toward her other than the picture. The other three accusers, however, received nothing resembling an apology for his conduct toward them, which he explained away by saying that he’s taken thousands of pictures over his political life and that sometimes in a crowd, things happen by accident.
However, if you read through the entire interview, there’s not much approaching a real apology. Sure, he says he’s sorry, and that he’s apologizing, but he never owns up to any conduct that can’t be proven and linked to him. He only admits to the conduct on display in the photograph, and suggests he has ‘no recollection’ of the rest of it.
Franken, by way of apology in the political world, has willingly submitted himself to the Senate Ethics Committee for a review of his conduct. On its face, this seems like a noble gesture. When you’re aware of how unlikely it is that it would result in serious punishment or expulsion from the Senate (no sitting Senator has been expelled since 1862, when a Senator from Indiana was expelled for supporting the Confederacy), it begins to look less like a punishment and more like a chance to clear him in the eyes of the public so his political career remains intact, with little risk that he’ll be held to account for his behavior.
Does this kind of non-apology, all too common in the political world, harm his credibility? Does it indicate that he is no longer fit to be in the position he holds? Some on the left seem to think it does and means that he should resign, much like they believe Roy Moore should withdraw and Congressman John Conyers should resign.
However, they seem to be the minority; within the political world, politicians are closing ranks around Conyers and Franken, saying that whatever they did in the past, they’re important parts of the political community and the DNC. Even Al Franken’s friends from Saturday Night Live, which has a history of whining that Trump was alleged to have sexually assaulted women, somehow found it wise to write a letter saying that they don’t believe allegations against Franken and that they support him.
It is interesting to see the Democrats refusing to hold their members accountable in the same way they demand Roy Moore be held accountable, but it just further proves that it’s easy to look the other way on the misconduct of their party. It also shows that the Democrats have no room to preach about ‘believing every woman’ when it doesn’t seem to apply to their party.
Both parties need to find their moral standards and stand by them. Either apply the standard evenly, or don’t pretend to have one.