Al Franken Is Putting His Self-Interest Over Everything He Claims Is Important

If Senator Al Franken left the U.S. Senate in the wake of his sexual harassment admission, Governor Mark Dayton would be able to appoint a replacement.  Many speculate that he might name his Lieutenant Governor, Tina Smith, a respected, thoughtful leader who would likely be a very capable candidate in a November 2018 special election.  There are also other excellent choices Dayton could make.

As a result, Al Franken and Minnesota DFLers need to be asking themselves some important questions.

Who would have more moral standing to hold sexual harassers and abusers like Roy Moore and Donald Trump accountable, and send a clear signal that sexual harassment will no longer be tolerated?

Who would be a more credible and persuasive advocate for progressive causes?

Who would be a more respected representative of Minnesotans’ interests, opinions, and values?

Who would be a better role model for Minnesota’s young men and women?

Who would be more re-electable in 2020, and more likely to help Democrats stop Minnesota’s Senate seat from going to a Trumpublican?

What Al Franken did is less egregious than what Moore and Trump did, so he may be able to hold onto his job, even after a long and humiliating Senate Ethics Committee investigation that will further cement this incident in the public mind. But just because he can hold on to his job doesn’t mean that he should.

Note:  The day after this post was written, Senator Franken resigned, proving this post’s headline wrong.  In his resignation speech, Senator Franken said: “Minnesotans deserve a senator who can focus with all her energy on addressing the challenges they face every day.  I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact 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 is running for Senate with full support of his party.”

13 thoughts on “Al Franken Is Putting His Self-Interest Over Everything He Claims Is Important

  1. Sorry, but I’m not interested in what guys have to say on this topic. I think we need to listen quietly and respectfully to what women have to say and let them develop a consensus on what to do about Al, Don, Roy, as well as perhaps you and me. In addition to the “too many” men who have consciously committed some form of sexual harassment, I think even more men may be guilty of being silent witnesses to sexual harassment. I am suspicious about men making any pronouncements on a matter that women have endured for ages and that men have just recently acknowledged. Time to empower women’s voices to be heard, and their recommendations given primary consideration. For our congressmen, a special ethics committee for this topic composed entirely of congresswomen would be a good start.

    • You are advocating that we refuse to listen to the voices of almost half of our citizens. Just because some men harass or molest women does not mean all men are suspect — that’s getting well into the territory of blatant discrimination. Yes, women’s voices should be heard, but that does not mean they should drown out other voices because they belong to someone of the “wrong” gender (or no gender at all–what about them?)

      And hey, Joe seems to be an ally to the harassed among us. And you don’t want to hear his opinion? Sad.

      Joe has made a good point here. It’s too bad. Franken has been a good senator.

      • I initially wasn’t wild about the DFL choosing to nominate an edgy comic, but I agree, Ruth, he has been an excellent Senator. I wish this chapter wasn’t happening, but it is and I just think Franken needs to consider things bigger than himself.

        • I had not expected to see the Democrats eating one of their own, especially one who had done an immense amount of fundraising and other support for fellow members of the party… But then I started reading quotes from some of our office holders that amounted to them calling for more women in politics with no consideration for their most effective male cohort. Selfishness is not a good quality in one who wants to represent us. Considering how much Senator Franken had done for important issues for women and families. It makes me sad.

  2. Do you think that Tina Smith would actually be interested in running for the Senate? I think that she was the likely front runner for Governor, and decided to pass on the chance to run. Why do you think that her decision this time would be any different?

    That doesn’t mean that Dayton should not appoint her to serve. She would be great as a Minnesota Senator until the election. I also think that it would be great if she did run for senate, but i just happen to think that she is too smart for that.

    • None of us have any idea what is in the Lt. Gov’s head, but I would think that many politicians would be more interested in an automatic Senate seat for a year, and a head start to having it long term, than they would in a crowded inter-party gubernatorial competition that includes some pretty prominent competition – Walz, Otto (statewide elected),Coleman, Murphy. Totally guessing though. Maybe wishful thinking.

      However, if Dayton picks Murphy, Otto, McCollum or whoever instead of Smith, I’d make the same arugment I do here.

      • But is it better for Dayton to appoint someone who he knows will run for the seat, or should he appoint someone he knows will not run for the seat?

        I think that he will appoint Smith because she won’t run in 2018, and i think that is what he should do.

        2018 has the potential to be a huge election year, with 2 Senate seats, the governor’s seat, and a bunch of competitive house seats. There should be a very large turn out across the state, and i expect that the eventual second DFL Senate candidate won’t need an artificial incumbency edge (which might be more of a hindrance than a help).

  3. Short memory department. Remember the Wendy Anderson appointment? Knocked Anderson out for good and Perpich out for a while. If Dayton is clueless enough to appoint any of the DFL benchwarmers you named, it will be perceived as political pay-off or entitlement and can only backfire, no matter how capable the appointee might be. 90% of Minnesotans can’t identify Tina Smith, maybe 95%. And to appoint ANY woman will give the appearance that she got the job because of her sex. That only aggravates the DFL’s problems, because it cements this whole debacle in the public mind instead of putting it in the past; and because it implies that no man can be trusted in office–an implication readily exploitable by an opposition eager to ignite a backlash against what they pejoratively call “political correctness.” Think in political terms. We already have a woman US Senator, elected on her own. We already have lots of run-of-the-mill politicians, both male and female, qualified for the job to be sure but not very well known as anything other than politicians (and not universally known, at that) whose appointment would be regarded as simply another act of partisan aggrandizement. They’d be instantly targeted and smeared by the right-wing-dominated talk machine/echo chamber which we have now instead of a free press. The DFL has to go into defensive mode and they’ll never get out of it. Dayton COULD repair the public relations damage from this fiasco, COULD rehabilitate the liberal image; COULD forestall or neutralize GOP/Fox vituperation; COULD receive near-unanimous public applause for appointing a popular, well-known, well-qualified public figure–one whose career has been in non-partisan office but whose values and standards are consistent with Minnesota progressivism. That person of course would be Alan Page. Obliged to retire from the State Supreme Court by mandatory age limits, he is still healthy and might be patriotic enough to accept an appointment for the sake of the nation’s future. Once appointed, he could decide whether to serve out the balance of the term as a place-holder and then retire, or maybe decide to seek election on his own in due course of events. If the former, then the ambitious underlings now itching for the appointment would have a second chance. If the latter, then I think the people would be well served and the DFL would have a strong incumbent. If Alan Page went to the Senate at the same time as Roy Moore, the contrast in every respect would work to the credit of the Democrats both state and national . . . think about it. No one else in Minnesota would be nationally known, recognized, and admired. And because of the (to me) regrettable op-ed column that Justice Page wrote on behalf of that dork David Stras, the Republicans would look like ingrates and heels (as they are of course) if they started in with attacks on Page—the same guy who lent his prestige to the Stras nomination, back when Franken was doing what he could to block it. (And there would be a moral to be extracted from that kind of predictable Republican traitorous backstabbing, let it be noted.) So that’s how Dayton could thread the needle on this appointment, and anyone with basic political perceptions should be able to discern how this would be almost the ONLY choice which would restore DFL prestige, deflect or baffle Republican attacks–because whatever they try to say would really sound querulously petty and partisan to the greater part of the public–it would do this and it would also be a GOOD appointment of a qualified, experienced, beloved Minnesotan. To appoint Alan Page rather than any of the comparatively anonymous names you’ve suggested, would have a profound national impact on the complexion of the Senate, and perhaps affect for the better the course of the 2018 elections, not just in MN, but other states too. It won’t happen, I figure. So a year from now, remember they had a chance but they fumbled it.

    • 1) Unless Dayton appoints himself, appointing a DFLer is very different than the 1978 situation. People expect him to name an ally.
      2) Page seems like a good guy. I’d be ok with that. A quarter century ago I would have been excited about it.
      3) But you may be over-valuing his political capital with younger people. Justice Page was a famous football player 36 years ago and the MN Supreme Court is a pretty invisible place. Not as much fame left as you may think. Other candidate options have been campaigning statewide so have more relationships on which to draw. I also don’t know if someone ensconced in the judicial ivory tower for decades would enjoy campaigning and fundraising enough to throw himself into it.
      4) With a woman Senate appointee, MN would have three women in our ten-person congressional delegation. I hardly think that’s over-doing it.

  4. And goodness me, how could I have missed this contrast— Alabama’s notorious “Judge Moore” set beside Minnesota’s truly honorable Justice Page. This would be a GAME-CHANGER. Somebody please call Gov. Dayton . . .

  5. “Who would have more moral standing to hold Moore and Trump accountable?”
    The mind reels, or boggles, or does whatever it is that indicates incredulity.
    I mean, what is the premise of this question? What alternate universe exists where Tina Smith or anyone at all could “hold Moore and Trump accountable.” Don’t you understand what you’ve been witnessing for the last 2 years? No one and nothing holds Trump accountable. There are no “checks and balances.” The moral lepers who constitute the Republican Party control both houses of Congress. They have worked diligently to pack and stack the courts with their legal stooges from the Divine Right Rulers Legal Conspiracy, a.k.a Federalist Society, and if Trump picks Moore to sit on the US Supreme Court when Ginsburg or one of the other ancients can no longer hold out, then they will confirm him and there’s nothing anyone will do to stop it. And I fully expect Trump will make that call. Really. Tina Smith. Look, even if by a miracle the Dems overcame gerrymandering AND voter suppression AND hacking in the several states still using no-paper-trail electronic vote machines (GA & PA among others)–even if these miracles happened and the Dems captured the House . . .Even then, there is no way to hold Trump accountable because he puts himself above the law. We’ve been oligarched, Joe, and it’s not pretty. Pardon himself and everybody Mueller snags? Sure he’ll do that. Then what? His supporters which includes EVERY Republican who will run for Congress and Senate in 2018, have no problem with that. You may yet see Trump actually stand on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone, as he bragged he could do without losing any of his support.
    And by the way, if you contend that because someone is a woman, she would be better at holding accountable a man who inflicts sexiual harassment, how in hell do you explain the female governor of Alabama endorsing Moore, the female press secretary for the Maggot traducing the accusers and defending Moore and her boss, the female Republican US Senators standing mute, and the hundreds of thousands of female voters in Alabama who will elect Roy Moore to the Senate next week? Come on. Wasn’t it actually a man, that retiring AZ Senator, who said it would be better for the Dem to beat Moore? I don’t know what kind of self-shamed and guilt-driven thinking infects MN liberal men. It doesn’t seem healthy. Here’s a hint—there are much worse problems in our nation and the world than the sexual misbehavior of prominent people. I think Trump’s ability to get away with his brazen lying is way more of a clear and present danger; as is his likelihood of getting a war going in Korea, the Middle East, Iran, god-knows-where; his fealty to Putin; the shredded safety net (Ryan says: Social Security & Medicare next!) The rape of the environment is happening now; the disgusting lechery and assaults he committed five, ten or twenty years ago but in neither case is anyone, not Tina Smith nor Clark Kent, going to hold the Maggot accountable. Yes that 2018 election is going to matter like crazy and if the DFL doesn’t unite and rise to the occasion it will not go well. Women who want to shut all the men up are no more democratic than men who hassle and try to silence women. And any generalization about either sex which asserts moral superiority or assigns collective political merit & virtue on the basis of biology–or a combination of biology and cultural conditioning and/or stereotypes–would be silly.

    • Re: “No one and nothing holds Trump accountable.”

      I’m saying the guy in the picture grabbing the breast has no credibility criticizing the guy grabbing genitalia. I’m obviously not saying senatorial criticism is going to put Trump in jail. But I do want my elected representative to be able to credibly criticize immoral harassment and abuse.

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