Tag Archives: Al Franken

McConnell sets no bipartisan example

Yeah, this Twitter message from a former U.S. senator — who once wrote jokes for a living — sums it up for me.

The Senate majority leader is lamenting the absence of a quality about which he seems to know next to nothing. Mitch McConnell is angry about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to withhold the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. He says House Democrats rushed to judgment against the president while impeaching him; then he says he won’t allow any witnesses to testify in the upcoming Senate trial that will determine whether Trump stays in office.

I don’t know whether to laugh or … laugh even more loudly.

McConnell is infamous for the partisan hit job he performed on President Barack Obama after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in February 2016. Obama wanted to nominate someone to the SCOTUS to succeed Scalia. McConnell slammed the door shut, saying that the president shouldn’t appoint a justice in an election year that would determine who the next president would be.

Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the SCOTUS. McConnell denied Garland a hearing. It was a major-league partisan power play. It worked for McConnell, given that Donald Trump won the 2016 election.

Of course, McConnell has kept up his partisan wrangling during the impeachment saga, declaring that he intends to take his cue from Trump’s legal team and that he is “not an impartial juror.”

So, for the majority leader to gripe about Democrats’ alleged partisanship now is as Al Franken has described it.


As long as we’re insisting on resignation …

Three U.S. senators — two Democrats and an independent who sides with Democrats — have broached a subject that’s on the minds of millions of Americans.

If we’re going to demand and accept the resignations of senators and House members over allegations of sexual abuse, assault and harassment … how about demanding it of the groper in chief, Donald John Trump Sr.?

My distaste for Donald Trump as president of the United States is documented quite thoroughly on this blog. He has behaved like a slug and a boor among women. Moreover, he has actually bragged about it!

Now we hear from Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Corey Booker, D-N.J., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., all of whom have said that the president should resign just as Democratic Sen. Al Franken, Republican Rep. Trent Franks and Democratic Rep. John Conyers have done.

I won’t climb aboard that hay wagon just yet. However, Trump and his acknowledged misbehavior — and the myriad complaints and allegations that have been leveled against him — do suggest one of the more profound ironies of the “Me Too” movement that is swallowing powerful men.

Trump’s recorded voice has him boasting to a TV host about his grabbing women by their genitals. He boasted about how his celebrity status enabled him to kiss women whenever he felt like it. He has talked about how he was able to walk in on half-dressed beauty pageant contestants because, by golly, he was the boss.

Trump’s “punishment”? He was elected president of the United States. The election does not absolve him of anything. Instead it brings it all into sharp relief when juxtaposed with the allegations that have forced other politicians to walk away from their public service jobs.

I’m not prescient enough to know where this “Me Too” movement is going from here. Perhaps it will gather even more steam. It well might explode inside the Oval Office. Or … it might fizzle and die.

If it does expand and if it does reach even more deeply into the president’s personal behavior, well … then I believe we need to take these resignation suggestions from Sens. Sanders, Booker and Merkley quite seriously.

So, too, should the president.

Franken bows out … with no apology

Well, there wasn’t much contrition today in Al Franken’s announcement that he’s quitting the U.S. Senate.

Indeed, the junior Democratic senator from Minnesota said some of the allegations from women that he groped them were “untrue” and said he remembers others “differently” from what the women have alleged.

But he’s gone. He should be gone. The accusations were too credible to be denied. Sen. Franken couldn’t possibly continue in that body, particularly when most of his Democratic colleagues had demanded that he quit.

The culture in Washington well might be changing. Women have come forward to level serious accusations against powerful men. Those men are now being held to account for their behavior. Franken has been caught in the sausage-grinder that is pulverizing careers.

He did take note, however, that while he is quitting the Senate, a man who has admitted to committing acts of sexual assault — Donald John Trump — still occupies the White House as president of the United States.

Life ain’t fair, right?

While much of the political attention was focused on Al Franken, another member of Congress — Rep. Trent Franks — announced his resignation. Franks is a Republican — and a deeply conservative, deeply religious one at that — who is now the subject of an ethics investigation into, um, sexual harassment. 

Franks supposedly discussed surrogate parenting with some female staffers. He says he regrets having that discussion and the discomfort it caused “in the workplace.”

Now he’s gone.

My trick knee is telling me the congressional purge is just beginning.

Politics, just like life, sometimes ain’t fair

My mother and father more than likely told me a time or two when I was a kid that “Life isn’t fair.”

I’ve passed that bit of wisdom on to my sons. Perhaps I’ll tell my granddaughter the same thing in due course.

It can be said, too, that politics falls into that category of unfairness. People say things about politicians and we tend to think the worst of them.

The political world is reeling at this moment as a prominent U.S. senator appears ready to call it quits over allegations that have come forward from women who have accused him of sexual misbehavior. One of the women produced photographic evidence of it. Sen. Al Franken acknowledged complicity in what she alleged — more or less.

More women have come forward. The word is swirling that Franken is going to announce his resignation from the Senate.

Is the senator entitled to what’s been called “due process”? Yes, to a point. But let’s remember that Franken isn’t charged with a crime. He has been accused of making a serious political mistake. If he doesn’t quit the Senate soon, he damn sure should leave that body. He’s damaged beyond repair.

Now, about that fairness matter.

Franken is likely toast as a national political leader. Why? Because women came forward and accused him of misbehaving.

Franken’s career, reputation destroyed

Meanwhile, the president of the United States has actually acknowledged that he has grabbed women by their genitals, he has kissed them against their will. He said he could do that because he’s a “celebrity,” which he said gives him license to act like a boor.

These revelations came forward in the waning weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, while the candidate — Donald Trump — was seeking the presidency.

What kind of price did that politician pay? None. He got elected president. 

Oh, there’s more. Another politician has been accused of sexual misbehavior. Women have said that a Senate candidate, Roy Moore, sought an improper relationship with them when they were underage; one woman said Moore made advances on her when she was 14 years of age.

Roy Moore, an archconservative, God-fearing, “family values” Republican, is now expected to win the Senate seat in Alabama. He denies doing anything wrong.

So, a sitting U.S. senator is likely to leave public service because he has been accused of misbehaving badly. Another politician gets elected to the highest, most exalted office in the nation — if not the world — after telling the world he did hideous things to women. And yet another man is likely to win election to an important Senate seat after being accused of pedophilia.

How is any of this fair? It’s not. We’re talking about politics.

Best guess: Franken soon to become a ‘former senator’

The late “Dandy Don” Meredith, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and football commentator, was fond of singing “turn out the lights, the party’s over” when a pro football team was blowing another one out on national TV.

Um, U.S. Sen. Al Franken? The party appears to be over.

More women have come forward to accuse the Minnesota Democrat of groping and unwanted kissing. Droves of Democratic senators now are singing the same chorus: Franken has to quit.

It sounds to me as though the party is over.

Senators turn on one of their own

As a friend of mine noted on Facebook, Franken is about to “spend more time with his family,” but he wonders whether his family will want to spend more time with him.

Let’s all understand something here. There have been no criminal charges filed against Franken. This is purely a political matter. There’s an element of “due process” to follow, but it’s not nearly as critical as it would be if there was criminality involved.

The process is supposed to include an ethics investigation by a Senate committee charged with looking at these matters.

But just as Rep. John Conyers was damaged beyond repair over the allegations that took him out of office, the same appears to be said of Franken.

If his fellow Democrats are turning on him in this fashion, Franken cannot possibly continue to serve in the Senate.

So much for a 2020 presidential campaign, eh?

Another media giant takes a header

I’m not going to venture too far out on the proverbial limb by making this declaration: Charlie Rose’s broadcast journalism career likely is over; he’s toast; he’s done, finished, a goner.

Sexual harassment and sexual abuse charges have brought down the former “CBS This Morning” co-host. CBS fired him today after allegations arose from eight women who said Rose pranced naked in front of them and made improper sexual advances. PBS also terminated its relationship with Rose, who had a late-night interview show on the public TV network.

The wave of reform continues to purge the media and the entertainment industry of men who behave badly. Yes, the political world also has been affected by this scourge. Women have accused Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of coming on to them when they were underage girls; U.S. Sen. Al Franken is facing pressure from political progressives to quit his office after two women have accused him of groping and unwanted kissing; U.S. Rep. John Conyers has acknowledged “settling” with women who accused him of harassment — but, in a weird statement, denies doing anything wrong.

I’m going to give Fox News credit for the way it handled the Bill O’Reilly matter. Women accused O’Reilly of bad behavior. The network where he worked as a talk-show host paid out big money to settle the complaints. It then suspended O’Reilly … and then it fired him.

The O’Reilly story, in my view, is what made Rose’s departure from CBS a done deal after the allegations came forth.

Where this all goes remains anyone’s guess. It well might end only when the last news media outlet gets rid of its last sexual predator; or when the last entertainment tycoon with similar proclivities is revealed.

As for the political world that is beginning to roil in this climate, it’s fair to wonder how many sudden “retirement” announcements we’re going to hear from pols who are overtaken by guilty consciences.

Something tells me many more men are going to be culled from the public stage.

This is meant as a defense of POTUS?

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders no doubt intended to mount a stout defense of the president of the United States.

It somehow seemed to fall a bit flat, sounded a bit hollow.

Sanders was asked about the accusation that Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken groped and kissed a TV news anchor when the two of them were on a USO tour in 2006. Franken — who hadn’t yet joined the Senate — has acknowledged doing it and has apologized for his actions.

What about the myriad accusations that have been leveled against Donald J. Trump? Sanders said they differ from what Franken has confronted.

According to the Huffington Post:

“I think that this was covered pretty extensively during the campaign,” Sanders said. “We addressed that then. The American people, I think, spoke very loud and clear when they elected this president.”

“How is this different?” the reporter asked.

“I think in one case specifically, Sen. Franken has admitted wrongdoing, and the president hasn’t,” Sanders replied. “I think that’s a very clear distinction.” 

Yep. There you have it. The president hasn’t admitted to anything … as if he ever admits to doing a single wrong thing.

To be fair, none of the allegations against Trump has been proved — although he was recorded on a 2005 audio recording all but acknowledging that he could grab women by their “p****” if he felt like it.

Yes, Mr. POTUS, pictures — and words — do matter

I now am utterly convinced that Donald J. Trump has no clue, none at all, about self-awareness and how someone with zero moral authority should refrain from speaking out on, um, morality.

The president wasted little time in tweeting a response to the accusation that U.S. Sen. Al Franken groped and kissed a woman without her consent. He referred to Franken as “Frankenstien” and said a picture is “worth a thousand words.”

Trump isn’t commenting via Twitter on that other guy whose alleged sexual misconduct is all the rage these days: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, who is accused of assaulting underage girls when he was a 30-something prosecutor.

Imagine my (faux) surprise, will ya?

I concur with the president that what Franken did was inexcusable. It was reprehensible and the Minnesota Democratic lawmaker should be chastised in the strongest terms possible.

However …

Trump’s tweet flings the door wide open to conversation about his demonstrated lack of respect for women. He all but admitted on that infamous “Access Hollywood” audio recording that he groped women because his celebrity status made it so easy for him. He said he could grab them by their genital area.

The revelation about Trump’s behavior surfaced about a month before the 2016 presidential election. Lots of Americans were aghast and outraged by what he had said in 2005. In the end, it mattered little as Trump was elected anyway.

But now we’re getting some more buzz about women who say they have been sexually harassed and abused by the man who would become president of the United States.

Why the renewed interest in Trump’s own seedy, sordid past? Because the tweeter in chief just couldn’t resist popping off about something on which he has zero moral authority.

But, hey … he “tells it like it is.”


Yep, it’s harder to come down on those you respect

It’s time for an admission.

I am admitting that it is easy for me to criticize politicians I dislike, or even detest and that it’s harder to go negative against those I respect.

Thus, I am having a conflict of sorts as I watch this story about Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken play out. Franken has apologized for groping a woman in 2006 while the two of them were on a USO tour; it was before Franken became a member of the Senate. He was a mere comedian at the time of the incident.

The woman, TV news anchor Leann Tweeden, produced a picture of him groping her while she apparently was asleep. She didn’t consent to the groping or to the kiss that Franken reportedly laid on her. Tweeden has accepted Franken’s apology to her.

What gives me grief is that I grew to respect Franken’s performance as a senator. I agree with his politics and thought he had a bright future in politics.

I am now left to use past-tense verbs when talking about Franken. I no longer respect him or admire him. I don’t know how much of a future he now has in politics. Yes, it pains me to say all this.

Unlike the scandal that’s swallowing up Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for the Senate from Alabama, this Franken story is giving me grief. I find myself writing critically of him while my teeth are clenched. I have no such difficulty while criticizing the likes of Donald J. Trump, or Roy Moore, or Newt Gingrich (when he was fooling around on his then-wife in the 1990s).

This time, I suppose that because the latest bomb to detonate involves a politician I formerly admired, that I should really drop the hammer on him … rhetorically, of course.

I am more than merely disappointed in Al Franken. I am outraged that he would betray those of us who once thought so highly of him.

Franken deserves to be censured … at minimum

Al Franken has acquitted himself surprisingly well in the U.S. Senate.

Until now.

The Minnesota Democrat has been snagged in a growing scandal involving members of Congress who have misbehaved badly in the presence of women. A television news anchor has come forth with an accusation that in 2006 Franken, before he was a senator, grabbed her and kissed her without her permission.

Franken has apologized for his conduct. He also says he remembers the incident — which occurred when the then-comedian was on a USO tour of the Middle East — differently from what the woman has alleged.

That is not good enough, senator.

The only aspect of this case that differs from the hideous accusations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore — who’s been accused of sexual misconduct with underage girls — is that the accuser was an adult when the incident occurred.

That doesn’t make it acceptable in any form or fashion.

You see, Franken is one of those lawmakers who likes to speak glowingly of his wife, their children and grandchildren. He presents himself as a devoted family man.

What should the Senate do? I think a censure is clearly in order. There ought to be a strong statement condemning one of the body’s colleagues — who until this week was actually discussed as a possible presidential candidate in 2020.

For those of us out here in Flyover Country who have admired the work he has done ever since he joined the Senate, Al Franken has just become a huge disappointment.