Franken will have to live with regret

Former Democratic Sen. Al Franken was the subject of a profile in the New Yorker magazine this week. In it, Franken reflected on the accusations that led him to resign from his Senate seat in December 2017. He said he “absolutely” regrets resigning when he did.

Franken, you recall, had been accused of unwanted kissing and touching, especially by talk radio host Leann Tweeden. Tweeden had complained Franken took a kiss in a USO skit too far, sticking his tongue in her mouth during a rehearsal. This was in 2006, before Franken had been elected to the Senate. There was also a photo of Franken, jokingly reaching for her breasts as she slept on a transport plane.

This was at the height of the #MeToo movement, when women in the entertainment business and elsewhere were tearing the lid off the shameful practice of mail exploitation and abuse.

Before any kind of ethics hearing could be held in the Senate, Franken was strongly encouraged to resign by people in his own party. Franken showed himself to be a man with a sense of decency, responsibility and accountability, and resigned. The fact that others in the highest ranks of government are still there despite more heinous accusations of abuse simply shows the difference in Franken’s character and theirs.

Perhaps Franken should have toughed it out, and fought to keep his Senate seat. He had developed into a smart, hard-working and effective senator after a career of writing comedy and political satire. He took the job seriously and did it well.

However, it is hard to rescind the act of resigning under hard circumstances. His old job is being handled by Sen. Tina Smith. There aren’t that many opportunities for him to run for office.

Franken may have to live with the regret.


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