Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken goofed a golden-gopher opportunity bigly last Thursday to make a real difference, one that would have produced lasting effects had he not capitulated to the rush to judgement, forced by his Democratic brethren who saw no distinction between his behavioral transgressions compared to those committed by President Donald Trump, or the likely to be elected Senator from Deep South State Alabama, Roy Moore.
In a forced marched to his resignation that took about three weeks, made possible by Frankens Democratic Senate colleagues including Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown who called on him to resign, “Landslide” Al – the nickname he earned after he won his first term by a mere couple hundred votes – sacrificed using his vote and his voice in the currently broken U.S. Senate to make it better.
Did the former comedian turned politico do the right thing, after nearly all members of his conference turned their righteous indignation on him, while simultaneously appearing not to notice senior New Jersey U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, who was indicted and stood trial on corruption charges, go un-Hectored?
Donald Trump turned long-standing traditional politics on its head in 2016, doing all the wrong things, outrageously and purposely so, then being rewarded with winning the White House, and all the power that comes with being president. Trump’s outlandish, flagrant, and often times buffoonish behavior, that included unwanted sexual attacks on women, 16 of whom came forward to relate their misgivings about the braggadocio real estate mogul, remains in tact. Like a flower fed too much Miracle Grown over the years, Trump’s popular NBC TV show, “The Apprentice,” bloomed the rich kid from Queens so much that Republicans controlling the House and Senate in Washington have chosen to see no evil when it comes to his personal and professional violations, failings, and transgressions.
Franken should have called Trump’s hand, then raised him. The former Saturday Night Live skit performer should have fought political fire with political fire, first by apologizing personally and profusely to all the women who accused him of behavior he takes fault for. After sufficiently pillaring himself in the public square, he should have shocked White House and media worlds with his refusal to step down, counter-punching and counter-balancing all Roy Moore is doing to go to Washington to wreckk even more havoc on the Senate. Franken should have stayed in the Senate, there he could have publically rehabilitated himself with actions only a sitting senator can do, introduce or co-sponsor legislation that brings bad behavior transgressors in and out of Congress to meet their appropriately earned penalty.
Media that divides America more than it brings it together loved Franken taking a “parting shot” at President Trump and Roy Moore, the disgraced Alabama judge who has denied even knowing most of the women who have come forward to tell their tale of unfortunate, unwanted encounters between the pistol-packing former supreme court judge and girls underage at the time. Meanwhile, Moore is running Trump’s playbook from last year in the former slave state, and is expected by many to win a close vote next Tuesday to fill the seat vacated by long-time ‘Bama U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for Attorney General.
Franken won his first term in 2008, along with Barack Obama, then won a second six-year term in 2014. He had another four years left to make up for stories that entailed unwanted contact with a handful of women who were okay enough with him, either for reasons related to his former career in show business or as a sitting senator from Minnesota, to get close enough to him that they could accuse him of touching them in appropriate ways. Franken said he welcomed and would contribute to any investigation into his behavior by the Senate Ethics Committee. But when Franken resigned, he foreclosed on that due process exonerating him on incidents he remembered differently or flat out disagreed with.
Media would have been beside itself had Franken said he would wait to see whether Alabama voters would elect or reject Moore before making his decision to stay or go. Media would have been verklempt had Franken said he wouldn’t step down unless Trump was impeached for sexual behavior that made what former Democratic President Bill Clinton did with Monica Lewinsky look like the sex between two consenting adults it was. Lewinsky wasn’t underage, as many of Moore’s targets were when he abused them. Franken could have thrown a monkey wrench into the pushed-for outcome by putting the burden of his trial on Alabama voters.
With his resignation this week, Franken’s seat is up for grabs. Republicans could re-take it if a candidate like former popular Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty sees his opportunity to get back into office. With Democratic senators up against an electorate that could winnow their numbers down further next year because so many of them are running for reelection in states Trump won,
Franken sacrificing his vote so Democrats can say they’ve claimed the moral high ground, when media like Fox News will misconstrue or dismiss it, could become a lost opportunity to have made all the right moves. It’s clear that an alt-right senator like Moore, or a center right Republican like Pawlenty, would make all the wrong moves once seated in the Senate.
Franken could have added to his resignation speech the promise to not go quietly into the night of disgraceful wrong doing. He could have fought to become a turnaround hero instead of the comedian villain history that will become part of his obituary. Media mogul Harvey Weinstein, renowned journalist Charlie Rose, morning show honcho Matt Lauer, and serial abuser Bill O’Reilly dwarf Franken with their behavior. Franken could have said he will become an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, which he has been throughout his entertainment and political life already, notwithstanding the violations he has been accused of of late.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall, the saying goes. Trump is as big as they get, but him falling hard anytime soon seems a dream Democrats dream when they dream Republicans will come to their senses and professed moral values.