Al Franken, one of Minnesota’s Democratic Senators, is the latest politician accused of sexual improprieties. On Thursday, Leanne Tweeden alleged that in 2006, Franken had kissed and groped her without her consent.
Tweeden, now a talk radio anchor in San Francisco, and Franken were on a USO tour when these incidents allegedly happened.
According to Tweeden, Tweeden said Franken had forcibly kissed her under the guise of practicing for a skit. Also, Franken had a photo taken with his hands on her breasts when she was asleep and wearing a flak jacket.
For Republicans reeling from the Roy Moore accusations, Al Franken will be a convenient cudgel to fight back. However, there are some crucial differences between the Moore and Franken stories.
Al Franken and Roy Moore
There are a few crucial differences between the Franken and Moore stories.
Moore is now dealing with multiple accusations. At least one, and perhaps more, involves girls under the legal age of consent.
So far, Franken only has had to deal with one accuser. Without minimizing the nature of the charges against him, Tweeden is an adult.
Both Al Franken and Roy Moore are darlings of their respective liberal and conservative bases. But mainstream DC Republicans were uncomfortable with Moore even before the news about his dating behavior came out.
With the Franken news, DC Republicans will have the chance to change the uncomfortable subject of Moore. How Democrats react to the Franken news could affect their future electoral prospects.
Al Franken: Reactions by Democrats
Chuck Schumer, leader of the Democrats in the Senate, joined Republican leader Mitch McConnell in calling for an investigation by the Senate Ethics committee. Other Democratic Senators like Kristin Gillibrand also echoed calls for an investigation.
Outside Capitol Hill, Democrats will have to wrestle with their natural tendency to close ranks around one of their own. For many progressives, Franken’s withering questioning at Senate hearings made him a hero.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that unless Franken resigns from the Senate swiftly, the Democrats may face political trouble. It may seem unfair to be punished because of an accusation, but it’s not like Franken is going to face criminal charges.
On the other hand, the Democrats could swiftly cauterize the Franken wound.
Al Franken Resigns: Political Rewards
If Al Franken resigned immediately, the Democrats would be in good shape.
Minnesota has a Democratic governor, Mark Dayton. He would be able to appoint a Democrat to succeed Al Franken.
Dayton could make history with his appointment. For one, he could appoint Representative Keith Ellison. Ellison would be the first Muslim Senator and one of the few African American Senators.
Another way that Dayton could be pioneering would be to appoint Representative Betty McCollum. For the first time, two female Senators would represent Minnesota.
Appointing either of them would help Democrats to demonstrate their strictness towards sexual improprieties. Further, it would help them to concentrate on the real task of blocking Trumpism as much as possible.