The white lab coats here at the Policy Werkes are examining the photograph of Al Franken giving a sleeping young lady’s boobs a good working over while grinning at the camera like a college freshman at a wapatoolie party. Or did he even make contact? Hard to tell from the photo. We need video evidence for the upcoming U.S. Senate hearings into the matter and tax reform be damned!
This career-threatening incident occurred in 2006 “when Franken was a comedian,” the New York Times helpfully reminds. Comedians! Steve Martin warned us in 1979: Comedy Isn’t Pretty.
Look, the Squire is as partisan as the next right-wing Republican and admits to a certain amount of schadenfreude but a U.S. Senate ethics investigation? Doesn’t that sound like overkill? Will it be televised? Investigate what? Is there Zapruder video? Film canisters in a pumpkin? The guy admits he done it and expresses contrition: “It was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”
No, whatever fallout will be political, not legislative or judicial. Because Franken’s escapade Trumps (so to speak) our current president’s bragging (before HE was President) about grabbing you-know-what, which is when Your Squire jumped off the Trump train. (Not that he is a blue nose, by any means.) Trump’s boasting well may have been only boys-on-the-bus braggadocio. Moreover, his claim purports consent. “They let you do it” when you are rich and famous.
Al Franken, by contrast, felt up an unconscious, sleeping woman. That’s what Losers do. And there are pictures — unlike in Trump’s case — to prove it. Even so, the Policy Werkes is not certain Al Franken’s offense rises to the level of, say, Roy Moore in Alabama. Even accounting for tongue in the mouth. Nor does it seem that his conduct was more piggish than Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood. Or more ruinous than Bill O’Reilly. Or, more constant than Ted Kennedy. For that matter, all the Kennedy men.
And no one dehumanized women quite as thoroughly as Hugh Hefner, who some feminists continue to admire — although nothing has surfaced to contradict the probability that his countless “conquests” (as they were known) “let him.” He was rich and famous.
Where are we now? The female backup singers for Ray Charles explained that their designation as “The Raylets” meant “we let Ray.” In The Best Years of Our Lives, what did Dana Andrews do to Teresa Wright in the parking lot? He grabbed and kissed her, unbidden. (We don’t know about any tongue.) Who put more fingers on the ladies than Harpo Marx? On film!
Bubba was in a league of his own
But for the level of predation, entitlement, and mendacity, has anyone topped Bill Clinton or his enabler, Hillary? Yet, icons of feminism like Gloria Steinem hemmed and hawed for special consideration. Bubba may be a hound dog, but he’s a liberal hound dog.
“The Democratic Party needs to make its own reckoning of the way it protected Bill Clinton,” the always readable Caitlin Flanagan writes in The Atlantic.
Flanagan scores “The notorious 1998 New York Times op-ed by Gloria Steinem” that “slut-shamed” and blamed the victims. The Steinem piece “urged compassion for and gratitude to the man the women accused.” Think of that! Flanagan continues:
Let us not forget the sex crimes of which the younger, stronger Bill Clinton was very credibly accused in the 1990s. Juanita Broaddrick … said that she fought against Clinton throughout a rape that left her bloodied. … Paula Jones … Kathleen Willey …
The [Democrat(ic)] party was on the wrong side of history and there are consequences for that. Yet expedience is not the only reason to make this public accounting. … If Weinstein and Mark Halperin and Louis C.K. and all the rest can be held accountable, so can our former president and so can his party.
In a way, Al Franken is paying the penance for offenses for which Bill Clinton and the Kennedys were granted liberal indulgence. If comedy ain’t pretty, politics ain’t always fair. Politics is also timing and perception. If Franken committed a crime, it would be (in Wisconsin) fourth-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor. His jury, however, is the public’s perception. He is a non-person in Washington, a late-night TV punch line, persona non grata at party fundraisers, another crushing disappointment to the Never Trumpers.
“Oh no, not Al Franken, too!” Michelle Goldberg laments in the New York Times today.
Before Thursday, I’d hoped Franken would run for president in 2020. A hugely gifted communicator with entertainment chops, he seemed well suited to take on Donald Trump … [Now] I think he should go, and the governor should appoint a woman to fill his seat.
We hear Hillary is looking for work.