Bowing to political reality, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced his resignation on the Senate floor. The Post reports:
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced on the Senate floor Thursday that he is resigning in the coming weeks following multiple allegations that he sexually harassed women.
Franken’s decision comes a day after a majority of Senate Democrats called for his resignation after determining that they could no longer tolerate his presence.
They turned on one of their party’s most popular figures with stunning swiftness, led by the Senate’s Democratic women, who were joined in short order by more than half of the Democratic caucus.
Franken struck a defiant tone during his remarks on the Senate floor.
“Some of the allegations against me simply are not true, others I remember very differently,” he said.
But Franken said the situation had become too much of a distraction and would prevent him from fully fulfilling his duties as a senator if he stayed in office.
“But this decision is not about me. It’s about the people of Minnesota,” he said. “It’s become clear that I can’t both pursue the Ethics Committee process and at the same time, remain an effective senator for them.”
He also pointed to two other politicians who have been accused of far more serious sexual misconduct. “There is some irony that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” he said.
A couple points are in order.
First, it is not “irony” that President Trump remains and Roy Moore may join the Senate, but an outrage, an offense to decency, a moral stain on the GOP. This is not “what-aboutism,” which would excuse Franken because Trump stays. It’s a glaring injustice that Republicans and voters should not ignore. There is no reason Trump’s alleged crimes shouldn’t be investigated and why he should not step down if some or all of the approximately 20 women accusers are shown to be credible. And for giving Moore money and endorsement, the GOP should earn the permanent enmity of decent Americans.
Second, good people do bad things, and bad people do bad things. They both should be punished. However, the former is cause for sadness and regret but not for clemency. Franken should go, but I find no joy in seeing him disgraced. We should be prepared for people we like, admire and respect to be laid low by the rolling thunder of the backlash against sexual harassers. Some will insist they played by one set of rules in one profession and now are being held to another. That ignores a central point: There must be a universal standard for decency. The fact that they did not recognize it at the time does not mean they should get off the hook now.
If the whole Franken episode leaves you sad and/or disgusted, you’re in good company. Now that has to be turned into righteous anger to remove other, more serious alleged sexual predators.