Al Franken is an arse, but he shouldn’t resign over this photo

Earlier this week, a judge by the name of Roy Moore stood accused of sexually assaulting a teenage woman in Alabama, the state for which he will shortly run for senator as a Republican. The accusations date back decades meaning we’re never going to find out what happened, but the guy comes across as a slimy bastard at best: he did an interview with Sean Hannity which only served to make him look shiftier, and the comments from his lawyer can’t have helped much. If he had any sense he’d withdraw from the race, and Republicans would back someone less dodgy.

The trouble is, Moore has become the trench in which many Republicans have selected to fight what they see as Democrat hypocrisy, particularly over Bill Clinton. Why should Moore resign over ancient, unproven allegations of sexual assault when the Democrats defended Slick Willie for decades and still wheel him out at fundraisers and election campaigns? The Republicans have a good point, but defending Moore is an odd way to go about it: certainly, I’d not want to be among those defending him. Innocent until proven guilty is an important principle to uphold when dispensing justice, but I am happy to accept a lower burden of proof when someone is merely running for office.

But things took a stupid turn yesterday when former comedian and Democrat senator Al Franken was accused of forcibly kissing and groping a model by the name of Leeann Tweeden when they visited Iraq in 2006. A picture has emerged of Franken allegedly groping Tweeden as she sleeps:

This photo – taken by Franken’s brother – is being held up as being proof of Tweeden’s allegations and a lot of people are now calling for his resignation. The way things are going, they’ll probably get their way.

Now I really don’t like Franken. I didn’t know of him until I saw him question Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court pick, during his nomination hearings and he came across as a deeply ignorant partisan fool. If he resigns it’s hard to see how American politics would be worse off, but to do so on the basis of that photo is stupid. Now it’s clear Franken is an idiot and taking photos like that is not the wisest thing to do. But it was before he was a senator at a time when he was a comedian, or what passes for one these days, and it was obviously meant as a joke. Tweeden is asleep but wearing a flak jacket, and it’s not even clear that Franken’s hands are touching it. It is humiliating for Tweeden, and Franken should have been given a bollocking for it, and perhaps Tweeden’s claim that he forcibly kissed her should be taken more seriously – but to say this photo is proof of sexual assault on the same level as that which Moore is accused of is absolute nonsense.

It’s probably been a long time coming, but America is in the middle of a moral panic over sexual assaults both real and imagined. Unable to deal with it sensibly, everyone is just digging political trenches and lobbing hand-grenades at the other side when this ought to have nothing to do with politics at all. Unfortunately, everything is about politics these days and as such we’re being subject to ever-more bizarre displays of political posturing. The worrying thing is I don’t think we’re anywhere close to rock-bottom yet, and moral panics rarely end well.

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25 thoughts on “Al Franken is an arse, but he shouldn’t resign over this photo

  1. I understand that nominations have closed in Alabama. Hence if Moore steps down there will be no Republican candidate. Which is probably why he’s not being asked to step down. Funny how the allegations only emerged after close of nominations.

  2. Pat,

    Ah, thanks for that: that does change things. I’m sure these allegations are in part politically motivated, but something does seem rather off about them. For a start, the woman in question and her husband are Trump supporters, and she doesn’t come across as your usual headcase wheeled out just before an election.

  3. Although she did wait thirty years. And he had been a publicly elected official, judge, even, in Alabama before. So why the wait? And the Trump supporting bit has been contradicted.

  4. But, yes, Moore does come over as a bit of an arse. And the Republicans should ease up on the Bill Clinton hunt as, now that the Clintons serve no further useful purpose, the Dems are going through the whole Captain Renault process re. his previous peccadilloes …. “shocked. Shocked to discover………..”

  5. Although she did wait thirty years. And he had been a publicly elected official, judge, even, in Alabama before. So why the wait?

    All good points, but his reaction seems strange. He either met her, or another teenager who could have been her, or he didn’t. It’s not the sort of thing you’d forget, so he’s offering an explanation which still gives him wriggle-room if solid evidence emerges. If he *hadn’t* spent time cruising around looking for teenage girls and fiddling with them, he’d come straight out and say “This is bullshit”. I bet Mike Pence doesn’t get these sorts of allegations.

  6. How can he be sure that he didn’t meet her 20 years ago? I can’t remember half of my friends from 20 years ago. Some people have really bad memories, my wife remembers very little from 5 years ago.

  7. How can he be sure that he didn’t meet her 20 years ago?

    He wouldn’t, but he’d remember the lifestyle. You might forget that you met someone 20 years ago, but if they said you’d picked her up age 14 in a shopping mall and molested her in your car, and you were not in the habit of doing that sort of thing, a straight-up denial ought to suffice, e.g.

    “I don’t recall meeting this person – and I might have – but any such meeting certainly didn’t occur in the manner described, not even close. Even if I have met this person it would have been in a totally different capacity, and her accusations are wholly without merit.”

    Why is this so hard?

  8. Hoist on their own #virtuesignalling petard?

    My, you’d need a scanning electron microscope to see the tears I’m shedding…

  9. “Al Franken is an arse, but he shouldn’t resign.”

    As one of his constituents, and someone who has had run-ins with him, let me just say that he won his seat through fraud (seriously – he was losing until someone “found” 310 votes for him packed together neatly in the trunk of a car the morning after the election, and our courts couldn’t think of a good reason to disallow them), he is a stain on the arsehole of the world (see how I Europeanized my comment?), he is an embarrassment to our state, and he should resign no matter whether he was joking in the picture and never actually touched the woman or he raped her repeatedly while she was passed out on his drugs. No matter why, he should simply resign. (Yes, I guess I do feel somewhat strongly about him.)

    ” And the Republicans should ease up on the Bill Clinton hunt . . . “

    No. We always give them this kind of a pass. Because of this, there are several generations of voters here who actually don’t know his sordid history of multiple assaults and coverups. This needs to be trumpeted. We let the Democrats define as as the bad guys because we never grab hold of such things and hold on.

    Judge Moore’s alleged behavior from forty years ago – with no proof – should be considered serious, while Clinton’s more recent proven offenses (remember, he lost his law license after his presidency because he lied in court during one of his sexual assault civil trials back in 2001) should just fade? Just like Franken’s issues ought to just fade? No thank you.

  10. bobby,

    Fair point on Franken – I’m sure there are many reasons he is unfit to serve as a senator, it’s mainly the photo being held up as one that I object to. I filly agree about Clinton, in fact the US is in this mess partly because people have turned a blind eye to sexual assaults and similar for decades (see also Ted Kennedy).

  11. I understand that nominations have closed in Alabama. Hence if Moore steps down there will be no Republican candidate. Which is probably why he’s not being asked to step down. Funny how the allegations only emerged after close of nominations.

    And fully explains exactly why he’s being hounded to step down by the MSM-DNC axis.

  12. In the case of Moore, there is good reason to believe the yearbook signature (the smoking gun) could be a forgery. Moore was the judge at his accuser’s divorce proceedings and she may have been unhappy at his decision on alimony etc. If the allegations of sexual assault were true, why not raise them then? The yearbook signature has a suffix of DA which makes no sense, as Moore was not a District Attorney when she was 14. His assistant, when he judged the accuser’s divorce, did have the initials D.A. and would add them to legal papers he prepared in the judge’s name.

    Looks like a hatchet job to swing the Senate back to Democrat control and try to impeach Trump.

  13. Yes, as a genuine sexual harasser the photo doesn’t prove too much about Al Franken. As you say, she’s wearing a flak jacket and you can’t tell whether he’s actually touching her. However, the photo does show up Al as a creepy little degenerate with the mind of a 1970s twelve year-old jerking off over Benny Hill reruns (and no, I will not tell you from where I derived that particular simile). Unfit for public office in either case.

  14. Moore’s assistant, who added his initials, “DA”, is actually named Dilbert Adams. This amuses Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, and adds to the general gaiety of nations and conspiracy nuts.

  15. Bobby b, I’m glad you brought up those 310 votes. Surprising how that dropped off the MSM radar. If I recall correctly, this was pretty soon after the Bush / Gore stuff.

  16. Franken is a deeply unpleasant man with many other issues besides this. I’m happy to see him destroyed by the right as it is now pretty much open warfare and our side need some wins, sadly it is the way of things now.

  17. Moore’s alleged sexual assaults occurred in a small town in Alabama in the sixties or seventies. He was a thirty year old unattached lawyer and every teenage girl in town, (and their mothers), was trying to arrange a date with him.

    Marrying Roy Moore would be like winning the lottery for these girls and you can be sure that many of them, (probably on the advice of their mothers), would let ol’ Roy get to first base at least. And as far as I can tell, all the allegations against him amount to just about that. “He got to first base with me” she sobbed to dear Gloria, the ambulance chaser supreme.

  18. Typing this on my phone whilst having a pint of Russian Imperial Stout so please forgive any typos.

    How about looking at it this way. We’re not saying Franken should be tried in a court of law. This is a workplace matter. Congress deems him unfit for his job. Just like:

    – Brendan Reich was forced to leave after casting a legitimate vote in California

    – that woman who was fired for giving Trump the finger

    – that woman whom some tried to have fired for tweeting a supposedly racist comment after landing in South Africa

    Or even going down the path of the baker forced to bake a cake against his will.

    If the company Franken works for thinks he should go, then he’s gone.

  19. Tim Newman on November 17, 2017 at 11:53 am said:

    ” . . . it’s mainly the photo being held up as one that I object to.”

    Have to agree with you on this point. I do recognize that I’m reacting here all out of proportion to what the photo shows – and inviting a whole new form of evidence-less witchhunt in doing so – but my sheer gut distaste for Franken leaves me unable to say anything at this point but “go down screaming in flames, you putz!”

    I’ve become part of the problem, and I find that I really enjoy it.

  20. “If the company Franken works for thinks he should go, then he’s gone.”

    Here’s my stab at impartiality (which, concerning Franken, pains me greatly):

    The company Franken works for is his constituency, not the Senate.

    I have real problems with the idea that the Senate could take it upon itself to kick Franken – or Moore – out. The voters (or some fraudulent semblance thereof) sent Franken there, and it should be their business whether he remains fit to continue in that role.

    Democrats keep making noises about kicking Trump out for similar reasons. Were they to get close to accomplishing that, I think many of us would see our way to armed insurrection.

    Sadly, I have no real hope that the Minnesota constituency would choose to kick Franken out. We are a state full of leftist loons. So, I hope he resigns in shame. But I doubt he feels any.

  21. Before you condemn Moore out if hand, then consider that sexual harassment is now the golden bullet or the nuclear option. It need not be proved, merely alleged, and by the time the person has disproved the allegations (which is extremely difficult, verging on the impossible) then, if it is to gain political power, six months afterwards, as Hillary Clinton would say “What does it matter?” hence I can understand his reticence to say anything which the mainstream media will twist to their agenda.

    Here is a reasoned and more in depth review of it:

    https://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.co.nz/2017/11/judge-moore-sexual-harassment.html

    As Kevin B said, he would have been a highly eligible bachelor and if the Bayou Renaissance man is correct, you don’t ask parents permission to date their daughter if you intend to rape her.

  22. Kevin B,

    Moore’s alleged sexual assaults occurred in a small town in Alabama in the sixties or seventies. He was a thirty year old unattached lawyer and every teenage girl in town, (and their mothers), was trying to arrange a date with him.

    Fair point.

    Phil B,

    Before you condemn Moore out if hand, then consider that sexual harassment is now the golden bullet or the nuclear option.

    I fully agree with you and Kevin B. There is every reason to be skeptical of the claims against Moore, but in the initial stages he came across as very shifty in his responses to the point I thought it might be best if someone else ran as senator (this was before I knew the nominations close). I’m happy to backtrack on that: the main point of my post was that using the photo of Franken to call for his resignation as a riposte to those calling for Moore’s is bloody stupid, and I stand by that!

  23. I’ve become part of the problem, and I find that I really enjoy it.

    I can sympathise! In fact, I wrote the post in defence of Franken over this photo to show that I can defend assholes I don’t like if I have to: it’s good to practice this once in a while. Someone once said our principles are tested by the tough cases not the easy ones and I try to remember that. Saying that, if he gets hoisted on his own SJW petard, I’ll be laughing like a drain.

  24. My heart says Moore did it.

    My head knows he didn’t. Because offenders escalate their behavior. If he was molesting people when a two bit prosecutor he would have been behaving worse as a supreme court justice. There would be a pattern of increasing numbers of victims and increasing seriousness of offences.

    Al Franken should resign because his initial election was dodgy, he only won because of 310 votes found in the back of a car.

    People don’t ‘get better’ with out a intervening crisis if at all.

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