Al Franken: The Tragedy and the Travesty

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Minnesota Senator Al Franken 

The Democrats’ pressure for Al Franken's resignation may make some sense from a zero-tolerance perspective. But it's dumb politics, and a cowardly sacrifice of a good man. It would have been far better to let the ethics inquiry take its course.

Once a few leading women Democratic senators decided to demand that Franken go, others felt they had to pile on, lest they be seen as less than fully committed to ending sexual harassment. If you’ve ever seen Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, about the Salem witchcraft trials, you get how this group-think works. 

Here's why it's dumb politics. The Democratic strategists, according to my reporting concluded that the Dems’ "cleaning house" would put pressure on the Republicans to do likewise, and hurt Roy Moore in the Alabama election next Tuesday. That explains the sudden pressure for Franken to resign immediately, before the final weekend of campaigning.

So this is more about tactics than about principle—and it’s more likely that this ploy will backfire. The Republicans will now spin Franken’s resignation as an admission of guilt, while Moore—charged with far more serious potential crimes—has admitted nothing, and claims his innocence. And Republicans can add one more Democratic scalp. 

(Why do Republicans do utter cynicism so much more competently than Democrats?)

Shame on the Democrats for this stampede and rush to judgment. The actions Franken is accused of are wrong, if true, but not in the same moral universe as the alleged crimes of Roy Moore and other sexual predators.

As Franken said in his resignation speech, “There is some irony that I am leaving at a time when a man who has bragged about groping women sits in the Oval Office.” That puts it mildly. Indeed, instead of turning on one of their own, Democrats and feminists—and all decent people—should be intensifying the pressure for a full investigation of the Groper-in-Chief. Instead of the misdirected indignation at Franken, the full fury should be directed at Trump.

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