Al Franken and our poll

Here are the results of the poll I posted yesterday:

 

Given the number of subscribers, I’m a bit disappointed that there were relatively few votes (around 500 total, or roughly 1% of subscribers). That said, there were enough to show that more people want Al Franken to stay in the Senate than to resign, but it was a relatively even split.

I voted “no opinion”. I don’t think Franken should stay simply because he’s a good progressive Democrat, for people should be punished equally for equal misbehavior regardless of their ideology or politics. On the other hand, the latest accusation didn’t seem credible to me: although there was some corroboration, Franken denied it (the accusation that he claimed privileges because he was an “entertainer” didn’t seem in character to me), I don’t think people should be forced to resign on the basis of allegations alone—unless there are so many, and they are so consilient, that the person is surely a predator or a miscreant. There were, I believe, already five allegations against Franken, and others reported some verbal corroboration of the latest one, but that latest one seemed too dubious to me to constitute a definitive “breaking point” for Democrats. So I’m torn.

But it looks as if Franken is going to resign anyway: there are reports (e.g., this one), that Franken is going to make a statement in the Senate at 11:45 Eastern time: in about an hour and 15 minutes. I am pretty sure it’s going to be a resignation. We’ll lose a good Senator, but But at least the Democrats have taken a harder line on sexual harassment than have Republicans.

What bothers me about all of this, and by “this” I mean more than just Franken, is the current tendency to equate an accusation with a fact, which runs contrary to how the courts view someone—with the presumption of innocence. Now the court of public opinion doesn’t have to use that standard, but at least there should be more than a reasonable doubt to drive anybody out of their jobs. In my view, the latest accusation of Franken is not beyond reasonable doubt, but I also think it’s likely he did practice sexual misconduct. In view of all this, I voted “no opinion”. I do have opinions, but they haven’t swayed me strongly one way or the other.

 

104 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I also voted “no opinion” which didn’t rightly express my views, but “yes” and “no” didn’t fit either. I lean “yes” but I’m conflicted.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I voted “no opinion”

    I agree with everything PCC(E) wrote here.

    I’d add :

    It _looks_ like liberals “circling the wagons” around Franken, when we hear the reasonable arguments as above.

    There are other people who could be a good senator – I view Franken as giving this person a chance.

    But also, I view this in the biggest sense as Franken taking one for the team – as if he’s saying “you know, if it means a better society, then I’m out. I’ll be fine. Nothing here is going to send me to court.”

  3. Jake Sevins
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I voted that he should resign, but not because I think he’s been proven guilty. But there has been enough evidence to make it clear that he has stepped over the line in his sexual conduct (the breast-grabbing joke photo, for example). He did this as a comedian, not a senator, but he still has to own it.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      I was pretty much in line with Jake’s comment. I think for someone in Franken’s position, especially in the current environment, that an excess of caution is a good thing politically. I treated this as I would a conflict of interest disclosure – there are real conflicts and “the possible appearance of a conflict when none may exist” but they all end up getting reported and acted on…..Except of course if you are president when you can’t have conflicts…..

    • Walt Jones
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      I disagree. If Ms. Tweeden hadn’t been wearing body armor, it would be sexual assault (a flak jacket is designed to protect the wearer from shrapnel and is rather thick). As it was, it was a sophomoric prank on the flight home from a comedy tour.

      As for the meet and greet pictures, he takes hundreds of them each time he’s out. Hasn’t anyone else ever accidentally misplaced their hand while taking a grouo photo? Imagine taking thousands—if it happened only five or six times, I’d be amazed. I doubt he’s thinking anything other than “make a good impression and move on.”

      The kiss allegations, in contrast, are disturbing, and more information is needed.

      • Jake Sevins
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        Walt: I don’t think it matters if Tweeden was wearing a flak jacket or a bikini. The intent of the “prank” was to make light of grabbing a sleeping woman’s breasts. Perhaps there’s a segment of society where that’s hilarious, but I think it’s in poor taste.

        Of course in hindsight, it’s in REALLY poor taste, but Franken had no way to know then that he would become a senator and that these issues would become so central 11 years later.

        • Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          What one person finds funny another sees poor taste. Franken was not a senator he was a comedian on a comedy tour who made a joke. You are offended. I smiled at his goofiness. Call my employer and have me fired. I’ll send you the contact.

          Perspective is the first thing lost.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

            I think posing a sexually suggestive photograph with a sleeping woman is wrong — unless your relationship with her is such that you plan to show it to her and know she would find it funny herself.

            Do you doubt that at least some guys would be offended to discovered there was a photo of themself floating around taken while they were sleeping and staged to look like they were being sodomized?

            • Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

              They might. I’d probably laugh.

              That’s the thing, Ken. It doesn’t amount to harassment. Not to me.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted December 7, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

                I’d probably laugh, too. But I think we need make allowance for those of our fellow citizens who might be a bit more sensitive than you or I, Mikey. 🙂

              • Posted December 7, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

                I agree Ken, we should. Franken owed her an apology for a joke that didn’t go over well, not his resignation.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted December 7, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

                Let me add: I’d probably laugh; I’d probably get even, too. 🙂

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

            Why is it okay for a comedian on tour to do this and not a senator? It is inappropriate behaviour whoever you are.

            • Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

              I disagree. It DOES make a difference. A comedian makes jokes. You don’t like his joke and that’s ok. Not everyone thinks it’s funny. But it was not sexual harassment.

              • Filippo
                Posted December 7, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

                I gather that, accordingly, the comedian should decide from the git-go never to stand/run for public office.

              • Posted December 7, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

                “I gather that, accordingly, the comedian should decide from the git-go never to stand/run for public office.”

                Of course not. That’s ridiculous. If voters think the comedian’s jokes were not appropriate they can vote for the other guy.

        • Walt Jones
          Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          Yes, in poor taste (i.e., sophomoric) and objectifying. In a bikini, it also would be assault.

          • GBJames
            Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

            Nope. Assault is not a function of clothing.

            • Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

              Indeed, holding your hands up in front of a woman’s breasts for a photo is not assault. Confusing such things is dangerous; and it trivializes actual sexual assault.

              It might stupid or mildly offensive; but nothing more.

              And, has been noted many times, all humor involves something bad happening to someone. Think about it it. It’s true. Maybe this is the death of humor?

              I don;t think the photo or the gag was funny; and i wouldn’t do such a thing. But that’s a matter of opinion.

              Forced kissing is another thing entirely. That’s the one thing against Franken, that I’ve heard (with Tweeden) that seems solid and really serious. And he’s acknowledged it and apologized for it.

              • Jonathan Wallace
                Posted December 8, 2017 at 4:15 am | Permalink

                “And, has been noted many times, all humor involves something bad happening to someone.”

                Where does this idea come from? Sure, a lot of humour involves bad things happening to people but I have no problem thinking of examples where the joke has no victim.

                I agree with your comment that calling the Franken photo sexual assault trivializes actual sexual assault.

              • Posted December 8, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

                Provide a counter-example.

                I have never seen one.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted December 8, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

                Hurley, Dennett, and Adams put forward an interesting theory of humor in Inside Jokes (and it’s not about something bad happening to someone).

              • GBJames
                Posted December 8, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

                @jbillie:

                She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

                A rule of grammar: double negatives are a no-no.

                Not, perhaps, the world’s most brilliant humor, but still (so to speak), I don’t see anything bad happening there.

              • Jonathan Wallace
                Posted December 8, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

                Provide a counter-example

                I guess GBJames has done so already but how about “a horse walks into a bar and the barman says ‘why the long face?'”

                Take Monty Python – there is of course plenty of humour with victims in their work but also plenty that is victimless like for example the Ministry of silly walks or the Bruces’ philosophers song. There is any amount of humour that is just based on silliness and surprising juxtapositions without anyone or anything getting hurt, harmed or maligned.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted December 8, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

                @Jonathan Wallace

                “The Ministry of silly walks or the Bruces’ philosophers song.”

                The first makes fun (collateral damage) of anyone with – is it palsy? – whatever the disease is that makes people walk in an unsteady fashion.

                And the second viciously slanders specific philosophers.

                Got any more examples? 😉

                cr

      • abear
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        If you look at the photo, he isn’t touching her. How can he be guilty of sexual assault if he isn’t actually touching her?

        • busterggi
          Posted December 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

          Thought crime – the most dangerous crime the regressive left has.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

          If there’s physical touching it’s battery. If there’s no physical touching, there’s no crime (unless the photograph itself was to be used in a threatening manner), although it might potentially give rise to some sort of civil liability. (Who knows? Tort lawyers are always coming up with novel theories.)

    • karaktur
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      It would have been funny if he had done it to the sleeping man next to the woman. It would have been funnier still if the sleeping man was a Navy Seal who could do some real damage to a joker.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted December 8, 2017 at 4:17 am | Permalink

        “It would have been funnier still if the sleeping man was a Navy Seal who could do some real damage to a joker.”

        Huh?

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    … (the accusation that he claimed privileges because he was an “entertainer” didn’t seem in character to me) …

    Me, neither — unless he was trying to salvage some self-respect with a stab at self-deprecating humor (and the woman misconstrued it).

    • Filippo
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      IIRC, the comedy team Peale and Key have asserted that EVERYTHING is subject to comedy/ridicule. I wonder if they will run for public office.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        There’s nothing that’s off-limits to comedy; there’s only comedy that’s not funny enough.

  5. Dave137
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Had he denied the accusations outright, the normal ethics investigation (due process) should have occurred.

    However, Franken stated that the accusations are credible — that they’re not to be discounted, based on the personal experiences of his accusers.

    That openness of possibility therefore, though an “admirable” acceptance of some responsibility, nevertheless now warrants his resigning.

  6. Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I missed the poll, but I would have voted no opinion. I’m not entirely sure what the accusations are or, more importantly, if they are true.

  7. harrync
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I think we are in danger of sliding into the “verdict first, trial later” mode. He has asked for hearings; let’s have them, then I can make a final decision. Right now I voted “No”, as in the Scottish verdict “not proven”.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      If we were voting on whether he was guilty, I would agree. However, the vote was whether he should resign and that’s different.

      Franken himself has admitted several of the charges. He denied the sixth and I find that denial believable too.

      However, the Democratic party can’t take the high moral ground if they protect someone (man or woman) who has admitted sexually inappropriate behaviour.

      Franken is a good senator and I hope his skills aren’t lost to the Dems, but he can’t represent them any longer.

      Perhaps he could try running as an Independent. His contrition and desire for change seems genuine. He could be an example of rehabilitation. But imo he should step down from his current position.

      Society needs to change, and politicians need to lead the change. Franken may even be able to do that as an Independent.

      • c carter
        Posted December 8, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        In my opinion, the Democrats lost the moral high ground when they accepted anonymous accusations as facts without, at a minimum, equal consideration for the denials of the accused, a man who has demonstrated integrity and respect for women, and who has advocated for women’s issues. Also, and perhaps this is due to different generational experiences contributing to differences in perspective, i do not think that any “sexually inappropriate behavior” is equivalent to sexual harassment, nor that the incidents in question support the demands for Senator Franken’s resignation.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted December 8, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

          I agree that there are different levels of badness of behaviour. I wrote about that in relation to Franken on my on website when the first allegation surfaced. Given that he admitted that accusation, the level of offending was minor, he apologized sincerely, and has a good record on women’s rights, at that stage I didn’t think he should have to resign.

          Now that there appears to be a pattern, and it’s not that long ago, I think that changes things. I agree that what he has done is much less severe than what many others have done. That doesn’t make it okay. I agree with what Franken said about the irony of him resigning while Trump and Moore carry on.

          Franken has basically taken one for the team, and has displayed honourable behaviour in resigning. I hope his talents aren’t lost to public life.

  8. Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I fear his resignation will make the GOP redouble their efforts. They will claim that Democrats and frail and fold under accusations. I hope I am wrong, but I think the GOP will spin it and bring Moore to Washington and he will be honored as a man who triumphed over false allegations. The hypocritical sickness of it is disheartening.

    • Harrison
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      “They will claim that Democrats and frail and fold under accusations.”

      They’re more likely to start combing for anyone willing to make an accusation against a sitting Dem or one running for office and amplify it as much as possible. This will be a field day for the O’Keefe types. Expect any male Dem candidates in the future to be Swift Boated to hell, and don’t discount the potential for it to happen to any female candidates as well.

      The path to the 2020 elections is going to be a minefield.

      • abear
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        The democrats lead by Gillibrand will cooperate with the GOP tricksters and throw their own under the bus as soon as there is any accusation, even really trivial and dubious stuff, unless it is proven false before it can destroy the candidate.
        Count on the Repubs holding on to power for the foreseeable future no matter how badly they perform in power.

      • Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        That sounds like McCarthyism on sex. Ugh

        Going to be a minefield? American politics is already feels like going swimming in the molten remains of Fukushima.

  9. Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    I’m conflicted about this and other examples of sexual misbehavior and its consequences or lack thereof. On the one hand, if harassers don’t face serious negative consequences, sexual harassment won’t end. On the other hand, we need good, effective politicians in office, and none of us are perfect.

    I wondered if this was just a rationalization, wanting to support Democrats even despite their flaws. Then came the issue of Roy Moore in Alabama. There are so many reasons to vote against him, a religious nut with no respect for secular law. But dating young teen-agers 40 years ago, when the cult he belonged to said men should marry girls of that age in order to train them to be good wives? It’s part of the creepy religious nut bit, but I think the sexual misbehavior then isn’t a reason to vote against him now, though it should have been a reason for him to loose his job when he did it. So my feeling sexual misconduct shouldn’t be the only criterion for choosing a candidate isn’t just about their political leanings.

    So I’m torn. An extramarital affair with a consenting adult by a married politician wouldn’t please me, but wouldn’t cause me to vote against someone. The “casual” talk and “minor” fondling we women have to face too often? I guess I’d have to think about how much he did it and whether it’s recent or not. Too many otherwise decent guys do this kind of thing. I would even weigh it against he good he’s done. (And I don’t know enough about Franken to do that.)

    • Lee
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      “But dating young teen-agers 40 years ago, when the cult he belonged to said men should marry girls of that age in order to train them to be good wives? It’s part of the creepy religious nut bit, but I think the sexual misbehavior then isn’t a reason to vote against him now”

      While I agree that cultural context is relevant, Moore did (according to multiple women) much more than date teenagers. He was a predator then who forced himself on teenagers and prowled the local mall. That is beyond the pale even by that day’s standards, I would argue.

  10. Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I voted “No” (don’t resign) for several reasons including the one you highlight – an accusation is just that. They should be taken seriously but so should the defense and no one is guilty until it has been proved. In addition there are other issues political for why I think he shouldn’t.

  11. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    The obvious problem with all of this reporting in the last 6 or 8 months is that most of it is years old. It gets much more difficult to investigate these things properly when they happened years ago, as everything does.

    If you have a system in place throughout the workforce both public and private that people are confident in and feel safe to report and know that proper investigation is done – well then you have something that works. You can then have time limits on reporting and expect prompt investigation.

    Most of this stuff being reported now against Franken is old and poorly investigated if at all. Being in the political area it all becomes political. This is why you have 30 to 50 fellow senators turn on him overnight. Not the way things should be but the congress is guilty of having a no good systems and now some people are going to pay for it. The question really to ask…is anyone learning anything?

    • Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Many of the allegations ARE old and therein lies a problem (for me, at least) in assessing ANY of the allegations I’ve heard, irrespective of the politics. Memories fade, perspectives become unreliable, context is lost or misunderstood. Sometimes, with those trying to game the system or attempting to evade responsibility, accusations and defenses RELY on the vagaries of memory.

      So what are we left with? If the harasser owns up to it, we’re done. If the accuser admits they made it up (or was otherwise wrong) we’re done. Otherwise, it’s a big ugly mess.

      In the end (I think you and others here have touched on this elsewhere) I see this big ugly mess as a good thing. It sucks that some innocents will be harmed but in the end, I’m hopeful that it signals a sea-change in our society where Weinsteinian harassment goes the way of drinking and driving – something that once was winked at is no longer tolerated.

      • Harrison
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        I take issue with the assumption that Weinstein-style harassment was previously tolerated in our society. There’s a reason he had to go to such lengths to hide his crimes. The public is NOT okay with this behavior and they haven’t been for many years.

        Lowering standards of evidence and allowing accusations to ruin careers is how you invite Swift Boating into your politics. It’s how you end up with Title IX kangaroo courts.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          That all depends on what society you are in. In the Hollywood society they have been getting away with this and much worse since the days of talkies and the casting couch. It is a different world they live in from the average folks. Do not kid yourself. And they still have no system to do a damn thing about it.

          • Harrison
            Posted December 7, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

            No surprise, people with lots of money and power get to play by different rules.

            However, it seems rather than trying to attack the system of money/power that allows bad people to hide their crimes, regressives have decided to attack due process itself. Unsurprisingly the end result has been a lot of people without money and power being trampled upon while the powerful only occasionally get hit. This is trying to hammer a nail by firing a shotgun at it. It’s stupid, stupid, stupid.

  12. Craw
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    “What bothers me about all of this… is the current tendency to equate an accusation with a fact”

    Exactly what bothers me. “Is the accuser sacred now?”

  13. JH
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I missed the poll, but as a Minnesotan I do want Al to stick it out. Let the investigation take its course. Al has done much good for Minnesota and the USA.

  14. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    … there should be more than a reasonable doubt to drive anybody out of their jobs.

    Do you mean more than a reasonable doubt about their innocence (as opposed to the formal criminal standard of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt)?

    I don’t think the criminal standard is feasible, given that the court of public opinion doesn’t offer trials or other adjudicatory fora. Perhaps the appropriate analogy would be to the standard applicable in civil cases — “preponderance of the evidence” (meaning, more likely than not).

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      I read an article just the other day but cannot remember where. It is a report of a Roast that was done back around 2008 on Matt Lauer. All of the players at NBC were there and it was a very raunchy, profane event. It was open season on Lauer with laughs all around on his sexual actions at work against various women. No cameras or recordings of this private event are available. Just one journalist who tried to write it all down. It was common knowledge within the workforce at NBC and all of the big shots were at this even. Now they all say, they had no idea. Shocking….

    • Craw
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      I think that’s what elections are for.

      I do not much like the idea of someone, especially a Twitter mob, being able to demand politicians live up to standards that their electors reject. That’s especially true of old accusations, and ones from behavior before the person was in office. Especially when the person denies the charges.

      Example: voters elected impeached judge Alcee Hastings. I think he was a disgrace. I think the voters in his district were daft. But I also think we have to respect their vote.

      The potential for abuse is obvious but I think it leads subtly to something I already see and dislike: the notion that you are allowed to discount and dismiss the verdict of other voters.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        So if a senator is in the first year of his six-year term and credible allegations of child rape arise, his voters should be stuck with him until the next election? Even if he admits to the allegations or gets caught in the act? How about if the official is not in an elected position?

        I think the issue here is when someone credibly accused of sexual misconduct should feel obliged to resign — and when it is appropriate for others to call upon a credibly accused official to step aside. I don’t think elections constitute a panacea resolving all such issues.

        • Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

          “…credibly accused of sexual misconduct…”

          There’s the rub. We need to ask in each individual case two questions. Is it credible? Is it misconduct?

          Both questions are routinely ignored in this witch hunt (I like Historian’s allusion below to the McCarthy era).

  15. Historian
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    The country is now in the throes of a mania reminiscent of the communist witch hunts of the 1950s. Back then, many people who had brief dalliances with communism decades before lost their jobs in government, education and other occupations. The infamous Hollywood black list was established. McCarthyism is now almost universally condemned. Now, people who engaged in boorish and disrespectful behavior to women years ago risk having their careers and reputations ruined. Franken’s behavior, although foolish, immature and wrong, is not comparable to the sexual assault committed by Roy Moore. Indeed, I suspect there are many other members of Congress quaking in their boots, waiting for the shoe to drop on them. At least for now, Franken should not resign. He should let the Senate ethics committee do its job.

    This wave of sexual harassment stories will have a salutary effect on the behavior of millions of men. This is a good thing. But, it should be clear that there are degrees of sexual harassment. Every incident needs to be analyzed on its own facts and only then should a punishment commensurate with the “crime” be meted out. The current hysteria is blurring these distinctions, particularly among the purist and absolutist wing of liberalism.

    • Craw
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Well said.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        Indeed (though I’m a bit iffy on the mixed footwear metaphor 🙂 ).

    • busterggi
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      We’re reliving the Satanic Panic of the ’80’s when every child’s fantasy was enought o send innocent people to prison and destroy lives.

      • Rita
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        And the child’s fantasy was guided, don’t forget. Yes, we’ve there again. It’s striking how so many of these incidents now coming to light mostly seem to have taken place years ago. Memories do fade and change.

  16. Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    “people should be punished equally…”

    I don’t see this as having anything to do with punishment. The overriding concern should be the effect this will have on our prospect of ending this nation’s ongoing nightmare, and since Franken’s replacement would be chosen by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, it would likely be either Keith Ellison or Tim Walz, both Democrats. If Franken leaves, the party would retain the Senate seat but shed Franken’s baggage.

    I’ve been a fan of Al Franken (and Rachel Maddow) since the days of Air America Radio, and it’s sad for me to hear about this revelation, but it’s not my first “Say it ain’t so, Joe” moment by any means.

    • Posted December 7, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      It won’t be either Keith Ellison or Tim Walz.

      It’s going to be a woman, and If I were a betting man, I’d put my money current Lt. Governor, Tina Smith.

  17. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Al Franken just finished his speech in the Senate. Very sad day for him and many of us. He did say that some of the allegations against him were not true and some he remembered very differently. Also wishes that the investigations into his actions could have been done as he agreed to in the beginning.

  18. Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I did vote “no opinion” and I know almost nothing of the case, or him (I’m not American).

    Out of respect to the office, politicians have to step down when their reputation is sufficiently undermined for they have a representative function, too. However, that does not mean they are also guilty in a legal sense. Though I cannot assess how this works in the US, or how serious the allegations are, or whether the timing suggests a Republican ploy (to counter the Roy Moore case which is strangely parallel).

    By the standards of the (“intersectional”) American Left, he should step down, since to them accusations and microaggressions are enough to consider someone even guilty.

    • Lee
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      “Out of respect to the office, politicians have to step down when their reputation is sufficiently undermined for they have a representative function, too.”

      I agree, but we live in a time when one faction has openly, aggressively and violently embraced character assassination, even unfounded, completely hypocritical character assassination (witness the Right’s treatment of Hillary even now) as one of their primary weapons. It is pure evil. The idea of not being the one to “cast the first stone” used to have some meaning among Christians, now (since Bill Clinton at least) it has become devoid of meaning to members of the GOP.

      While trying to maintain the moral high ground, it’s also important not to affirm and reinforce such tactics. I personally wish Franken had admitted his faults, deferred to the Ethics committee and presented a solid argument to the public as to why he should stay on. The vile hypocrisy of the Right makes me physically ill (no hyperbole there).

  19. busterggi
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I voted for him to stay. Being a creep is not illegal. And being accused is not the same as guity – just ask the folks hung aas witchees in Salem.

  20. Jake Sevins
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Al Franken voted for Al Franken to resign. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjVBTlmBb-I

  21. Blue
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    There is no hysteria.

    Things are getting stated now because
    we are finally stating them.

    Before ? when the behaviors before were
    just as wrong ? IF we stated them, then ?

    Then … … we lost our jobs.

    And within USA courtrooms … …
    we also lost custody
    of our minor children.

    Over to … … the wrongdoer.

    So … … we did not.

    Men worried ? About ‘how’ to behave ? Why ?
    cuz men aren’t, now seemingly, allowed to harass anymore without their fear of being
    called out ?

    There should be no problem. in re how to
    behave. Especially no problem around ‘fact’
    if memory serves in re heterosexual men upon
    heterosexual men. In the workplace / space ?

    flip / reverse: Does he place his hands on
    other men at where a frotteurist of a woman
    does ? Does he pat his butt ? Stroke his
    thigh ? Slide his hands up his pantleg ? to his crotch and grab it ? Gawk down his shirt ? pat or stroke his hair ? give him
    backrubs or shoulder massages ? for that
    matter, state how mighty fine he
    looks in those slacks ?

    Not hard these likeliest of answers.
    This cannot be difficult to get.

    Why not believe then .the same. ‘d be the answers to the behaviors in re how any are to
    interact around heterosexual women and girls
    ?

    Blue

    • Posted December 7, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Well, there IS a problem when accusations have the same weight as proved facts.

      How can anyone assess the validity of an anonymous accusation? As far as anyone knows, that could be computer-generated. Or direct from the Trump team.

      I expect that you would like your “day in court” if accused by someone of something. I would.

      I’m not saying sexual harassment doesn’t exist (it seems to be pretty rampant in certain quarters) or that it’s OK (it’s not). What I am saying is that — at least under the legal system I was taught prevailed in the USA — an accusation is insufficient to elicit a penalty.

      I also suggest reading Laura Kipnis’s Unwanted Advances if you doubt that false accusations are ever leveled.

      As I have noted elsewhere, if I were in strong competition with female colleagues in my workplace (or if I thought any of them were unscrupulous), I would follow the Pence Rule at work.

      • Lee
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        “I also suggest reading Laura Kipnis’s Unwanted Advances if you doubt that false accusations are ever leveled.”

        Not only are they leveled, there are lawyers who will encourage their female clients to claim physical abuse as a tactic in divorce proceedings, regardless of its truth. I have friends in Canada whose son, after years of false accusations and unsuccessfully fighting for basic parental rights, lost hope and committed suicide. Sexual abuse is a serious matter. But not to recognize the abuses on the other side seems seriously uninformed.

        • busterggi
          Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          “there are lawyers who will encourage their female clients to claim physical abuse as a tactic in divorce proceedings, regardless of its truth”

          Not just lawyers, my ex’s therapist encouraged her to try to get my kids (then 7 & 8) to say I had molested them. That was back during the Satanic Panic and, as I played D & D, her therapist (a good Baptist) considered me a Satanist who deserved to be slandered.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        I think there’s a difference between an anonymous tip and an allegation made by a known person who requests that their name not be made public. The latter isn’t as trustworthy as as an allegation made publicly and in one’s own name, but it’s better than the former (which shouldn’t count at all).

        • Posted December 7, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

          How is the person “known” if you don’t know their name? This flimsy hearsay. How do you know that person isn’t a Trump staffer? We’re splitting degrees of hearsay. [And I can’t argue that there is nothing to some ranking there.]

          In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

          This is a process being used to remove a sitting, duly-elected representative. An anonymous allegation should weigh approximately zero in such a decision.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted December 7, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

            Maybe I wasn’t clear. The distinction I’m drawing is between an allegation made by someone who is known to the person who reports it (say, a journalist) but who requests that their name not be made public and someone who makes a report anonymously, so that the reporter does not know who the person is.

            Allegations made publicly in an accuser’s own name are certainly more credible than either, but there’s a difference between the first two, too.

            You’ll not find a stauncher advocate for the Confrontation Clause than I, but the Sixth Amendment applies only to criminal cases, where the power of the state is being wielded in an effort to deny an individual his or her freedom.

            • Posted December 8, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

              Your last paragraph — of course; but it demonstrates the general rule applied to legal situations in the USA.

              So, when you are saying, this person (no name) is trusted by this other person (what do we know about them? Would they follow up with tough questions?, expect evidence?, what is their motivation?) This is two levels of fogginess and trust with little to support that trust. (There are very few journalists I’d have full confidence in in this situation.)

              Again, with heavy consequences such as removing a sitting, duly elected representative (mine in this case), I think such allegations should be given very little weight, none really. At least not without some other sort of corroborating data (maybe there are several unrelated journalists who agree this person is trustworthy and has a good reason to remain anonymous).

              When making specific, public accusations against public figures, it seems to me that one has (in the vast majority of cases) given up the privilege of being anonymous.

  22. allison
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    The likes of PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Svan, Rebecca Watson etc fostered this “always believe the woman/girl” atmosphere, and now the Republicans have weaponized it. Nice going!

    • helenahankart
      Posted December 8, 2017 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      Well put. It got especially egregious and ironic when Ophelia Benson herself got accused of harassing and bullying people and lots gleefully started playing “all pile on” at her while she started going “Why me? What did I do? Why dont I get to be innocent until proven guilty?” etc. The moment, the exact moment, you declare anyone “beyond suspicion” then someone will exploit it. Its a rather good example of why group selection doesn’t work. If there’s an exploit–it will be exploited.

  23. Randy Bessinger
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I voted yes but with a heavy heart. I really liked him at least his public persona. That has become the problem in that a public persona no longer is a sure fire personal reflection of personal character. I really liked Kevin Spacey’s public persona. Sigh….

    • darrelle
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Do you mean an individual’s perception or in reality? In reality a person’s public persona has never been a sure fire personal reflection of their personal character. Public personas are not necessarily inaccurate, though often are, but they are always significantly incomplete. People are complex and multifaceted and they are always presenting a mask to others. Heck, even to themselves.

      • Randy Bessinger
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        Perception…most of us make judgements of peoples character based on their public statements etc. If they tend to publicly mirror our values, we tend to like and admire them. Do you not agree? This forum is an example. I have never met Jerry but I like him based on his writings, views, etc….but I don’t know him personally. Same with franken. As far as Kevin, I judged him on his appearances on various talk shows…now thinking that was an act as well.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Turns out Kevin Spacey is a lot more like the prick movie producer he played in Swimming With Sharks than most of us ever suspected.

  24. D McCallum
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    It’s just insane. Most of the accusers are not credible. Tweeden has now been found to be working with Stone and Hannity. The Dems have now embraced the crazy side of feminism and formed a circular firing squad. This will not bode well for the 2018 vote as more men will feel unwelcome in the party and just stay home . Thats all it takes to win a close vote and the republicans know this. Thatt’s what they are doing.
    dm

  25. ladyatheist
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I feel queasy about firing someone for something they did before working in that job. I feel queasy about the Moore accusations, too. Unless an accusation pertains to activities during employment at *that* job, I think there should be a very high bar for post-hoc punishment. There’s a line between a social movement and mob rule. I’m worried we’re getting to close to that line.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      I think you are comparing two situations that do not compare. First there are regular people who go to work and live in this world as most of us do. I would agree with your comments on these folks. But politicians and political office is different. How a person lived his life, all of it counts when he runs for office and wants your vote. The really disgusting thing is when you have a Donald Trump or Roy Moore and they still vote for the bastard.

      • Lee
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        “The really disgusting thing is when you have a Donald Trump or Roy Moore and they still vote for the bastard.”

        Thank you. *That’s* the word I was looking for. 🙂

  26. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    there were enough to show that more people want Al Franken to stay in the Senate than to resign

    I’m not convinced that any meaningful conclusions whatever can be drawn from this sort of voluntary poll, given that respondents were self-selected twice over (first by subscribing to WEIT, and again by choosing to vote in the poll).

    That’s assuming that all the responses are legitimate, and that nobody tried to subvert the poll by voting more than once from different IP addresses (which I presume you would have no way to detect).

    My understanding of these polls is that, like newspaper horoscopes, they’re meant for entertainment value only, and should not be taken seriously as reliable samples of public opinion. That’s why I didn’t bother to vote.

    • Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      I think this gives a fair idea of how people feel ON THIS WEBSITE, which is all I wanted. And I think it gives us something more than “entertainment” value, even if answerers are self selected. I didn’t expect the conclusions would apply to all Americans, but I, for one, think this shows that people on this site have a variety of responses. I can’t think of any reason that conclusion is obviously wrong.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        The comments show that people have a variety of responses. I’m still not seeing how the poll adds any new information there.

        Of course I’m not saying that you shouldn’t post polls if you want to. I’m just cautioning against over-interpreting the results, and offering one explanation for why readers might not care to participate.

  27. Ray Little
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    If there’s no free will, er… Are we talking about someone who’s still at it, groping senate pages, or are talking about someone who somehow learned better, who decided that what he’d been doing was at best juvenile and at worst immoral?

  28. Thanny
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Just thought I’d add that multiple accusations against a person only increase the probability of guilt if they were made in ignorance of each other.

    Once everything is in the public sphere, additional accusations add nothing to the probability of guilt.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I don’t think you can say they add nothing — but they certainly don’t have the force of separate allegations made wholly independently (like the original five made against Roy Moore in The Washington Post).

  29. Posted December 7, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I too worry about making decisions about people based on accusations that have not received a proper trial. However, things are obviously more complicated than that. In the case of Roy Moore in AL, voters are forced to make a decision based solely on the accusations and Moore’s reaction to them. There’s not going to be a proper trial before the election, if ever. Perhaps the right thing for AL voters to do is to vote as if he was not guilty. If elected, let the US Senate investigate his crimes. However, it is hard to imagine voting while completely ignoring the accusations. Is that right or even doable?

    Perhaps a similar solution would the the “right” one in Al Franken’s case. Let the Senate’s “trial” determine his fate.

  30. Posted December 7, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure everyone has heard by now; but I listened live to Franken’s address to the Senate today, a couple hours ago, and he will be resigning “in the next few weeks”.

    This (in the next few weeks) is because he wants to be there for voting on the bills the GOP is rushing through before the recess. And this certainly seems legitimate.

    I am sad about this. I personally think this will not advance women’s causes in the US. It may well harm them significantly. We will likely know in November 2018 …

    He gave a great speech.

    • D McCallum
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      It may also give him another chance. Under the present feminist rules he is not allowed to defend himself. A delay may give other people or the media a chance to calm down from the feeding frenzy and investigate. This must also include why the wonderful ladies of the Senate were so quick to push him under the bus. First question , Who wants to run in 2020?

  31. John Dentinger
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    A sad day, I think. Anyway, after Franken’s speech, I congratulated my 2 NY Senators for speaking out against Franken, and reminded them that they could be accused of blatant hypocrisy if they did not immediately call for the resignation of our Harasser-In-Chief. What’s sauce for the hen is sauce for the duck.

  32. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    “it’s likely he did practice sexual misconduct.”

    But – so what? Is ‘sexual misconduct’ this year’s crusade?

    How about ‘cheating on taxes’? ‘Driving while intoxicated’? Speeding? Owning an unlicensed weapon? Smoking pot? Buying liquor outside legal hours? Littering? Belonging to a subversive organisation (anything from the KKK to the Boy Scouts to a union)?

    There are plenty more I could think of.

    If we investigated every politician and pilloried them for any misdemeanor in their past, how many would be left standing?

    cr

  33. Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    If Franken and Weinstein made a monster, I hate to think what it would do.


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