Yesterday I read Jane Mayer's most recent feature for The New Yorker, “The Case of Al Franken,” and it was like revisiting those turbulent days in late 2017 but with context added. With fact-checking. Imagine. It's the quiet after the storm and we‘re looking around to see what got damaged. What we damaged.
To me, what happened to Sen. Al Franken still looks like a right-wing political hit job, but it was the left—both the mob and the establishment—that, like idiots, pulled the trigger.
LeeAnn Tweeden was the first woman to level charges. (She was also the object of Franken’s mock breast-grab photo.) Turns out, some of her charges aren't charges: Franken didn't write the “kissing sketch” for her—he'd performed it on several USO tours with different actresses; and he didn't send the breast-grab photo to just her, as a final taunt, as alleged; it was part of the CD from the photographer that everyone got. In both instances, she made it about her but it wasn't about her. Her ties to right-wing radio and right-wing personalities like Sean Hannity were known at the time but ignored by the mob. Everything else in the accusation is he said/she said. It's “I found him gross” vs. “I thought we were pals.”
The other charges are almost all of the “He was coming to kiss me” or “At the photo op, his hand got too close to my ass” variety. Apparently Franken was a social mouth kisser. His staff warned him about it in 2007 and he supposedly backed off. Nevertheless, that, and the photo, ended his political career—one that was helping many, many people. Just not the Sean Hannitys of the world.
Some of the most tone-deaf lines in the piece come from his accusers:
Not long ago, I asked the woman if she thought that Franken had been making a sexual advance or a clumsy thank-you gesture.
“Is there a difference?” she replied.
Then there's this from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the first of his Senate colleagues to call for his resignation ahead of an actual investigation:
She acknowledged that the accusations against Franken “were different” from the kind of rape or molestation charges made against many other #MeToo targets. “But the women who came forward felt it was sexual harassment,” she said. “So it was.”
There's no difference. They felt it so it was. Good god. The #MeToo movement is doomed if these are the people holding its standard. If you‘re leading a moral movement, you can’t be less than moral yourself. Otherwise, why should anyone listen to you? And this is the opposite of that. Do they know how awful they sound? How tone-deaf?
You know what I want? I want the Al Franken of the SNL days, of the “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot” days, to wake up and start skewering people. Nobody was better at it. And what does he have to lose? At this point, nothing.