Franken Sense (Update)

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar.

–William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene II

If Al Franken hadn’t plopped his pudgy senatorial butt high on the pedestal of progressivism, he wouldn’t have so far to fall. So when Leeann Tweeden spilled the beans on the former SNL writer, who a mere day ago took Texas Tweeter Laureate Donny Ray Willett to task for his twit, he probably didn’t anticipate how quickly it would come back to bite him in his ample ass.

Tweeden didn’t get the joke either.

He said to me, “We need to rehearse the kiss.” I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL…we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’

He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.

He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.

Without pics it didn’t happen? Okay then.

Is he touching? Is it just pretend touching? Is it funny one way but not the other?

In a statement, Franken said: “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann.

“As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Of course he’s sorry. And it was wrong to let Bill Clinton off the hook too, three presidents later when nobody wants to look like a sleazy hypocrite.

I don’t come to praise Franken, but I won’t bury him either. First, this happened in 2006, but is only now coming to light.

I wanted to shout my story to the world with a megaphone to anyone who would listen, but even as angry as I was, I was worried about the potential backlash and damage going public might have on my career as a broadcaster.

But that was then, this is now. I’m no longer afraid.

Did Tweeden really want to “shout her story to the world”? Beats me, but she didn’t. She didn’t then. She didn’t when Franken ran for office. She didn’t utter a word. She’s no longer afraid? Why, because it’s now cool for people who never did a thing for years, for a decade, to now be the victim? Misery loves company. Victims too.

But as with all presentism, this is the week of outing the powerful males for the disgusting, outrageous, totally awful rapey behavior that occurred at some point in the past, often distant past, that nobody ever mentioned before. This isn’t to question that it happened, but to challenge the outrage when it’s fashionable, the silence when it wasn’t, and the failure to show any serious grasp of context.

There was a time when the cool kids, particularly those with breasts, thought personal sexual agency by women was the wave of the future. No longer should a woman be deemed a slut for enjoying, and engaging in, sex. No longer should breasts and vaginas be considered taboo, the nasty bits that nice girls pretended not to have and would never, but never, show.

Women had breasts. Women had vaginas. Women were allowed to use them, whenever they wanted. And it was no crime to be callipygian. And jokes about such things were still funny. At least people didn’t lose their shit over it.  As women and sex became less a matter of disgrace and more a matter of the mundane, it was no longer an earth-shattering thing for guys to push (because all guys are horn dogs, you know) and women to push back.

What provides a slight glimmer of the time is Tweeden’s reaction to Franken forcing his tongue into her mouth.

I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.

This knee-jerk reaction didn’t involve a knee jerk, which would have been well within her rights to administer. It wasn’t a deliberative reaction, taken after calculating the pluses and minuses of beating Franken to a pulp or seeking official rebuke.

To be clear, even in 2006, Franken’s tongue-thrust was unacceptable. This was, as folks say today, not okay. Not even close. It was disgusting and unacceptable behavior. But Tweeden’s reaction to it, an admonishment that she wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time, reflected a somewhat normal reaction and its proportionate severity in the scheme of disgusting behaviors. It could well have been far worse, and still within the scheme of normal reactions.

Franken’s fault is partially being a pig. He was. There’s a pic. But while today the penalty is social death, the conduct is more contemptible for the hypocrisy it reflects. There’s no excuse for Franken’s behavior, and Tweeden’s belated revelation when surrounded by support is completely understandable.

But Franken’s disgrace is its own punishment. His hypocrisy neuters his claim to righteousness, as pulled out yesterday at Justice Willett’s confirmation hearing.  Or maybe this is just a game being played by some women to get it all out there, forgive the guys who’ve been sufficiently cowed into obsequiousness, and agree to faithfully spend the rest of their hypocritical careers atoning for their sins.

Update: Senator Franken has issued another statement:

Now he’s woke, disgusted with himself and realizes that “it’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters.” Right.

33 thoughts on “Franken Sense (Update)

  1. Katharine

    A person’s belief in the seriousness of any scandal can be accurately predicted about 99% of the time by knowing whether he or she is a supporter of the accused’s political party.

    Allegations against politicians should first be made with no names or political party attached. Everyone should be required to go on record with their opinion as to the appropriate response. Only then should the name and political party of the accused be released.

    1. SHG Post author

      Rather cynical, but I doubt it’s as true as you would have it. Maybe the extreme ends of the political spectrum react that way, say the 20% on their side, but I suspect the middle 60% aren’t controlled by tribal loyalties and oppose impropriety without regard to party or political affiliation.

    2. B. McLeod

      Celebrity figures, many supporters of Franken’s own party, are already piling on to call for his resignation. After all, he’s not only an admitted groper of a sleeping woman, but an alleged dirty, rotten, forcible kisser as well. At least one of the (Republican-affiliated) pilers-on has suggested that Franken be jailed.

      1. SHG Post author

        Not that celebrity figures aren’t totally legit when it comes to matters such as throwing their own under the bus in the name of the cause.

  2. B. McLeod

    Ms. Tweeden has always kept in exceptionally fine shape. I have little doubt she could have successfully resisted Franken had she been so inclined.

    1. SHG Post author

      Even if she was in particularly lousy shape, she could have given him a knee to the groin. It just doesn’t take that much to do.

      1. B. McLeod

        I’m sure she could have put him in the hospital with less than 30 seconds of effort. But, maybe what she decided to do instead, all these years later, will be even more effective.

  3. Turk

    That’s a really weird sentence near the end, where he states that he doesn’t remember the rehearsal the way Tweeden does, but that women who come forward need to be believed.

    1. SHG Post author

      As I noted again a mere day ago, it’s very hard to square irreconcilable beliefs, so the best you can do sometimes is throw the jargon against the wall and hope no one thinks hard enough to realize it makes no sense.

    1. SHG Post author

      Eventually, people will figure out that we’ve all behaved poorly at some point, to someone, somewhere, sometime in our lives. All of us. Every single one of us.

      1. wilbur

        Too-many years ago, when I was approached by some friends to run for judge, I burst out laughing: “Are you crazy? I got more skeletons in my closet than you can imagine, and I’d like to keep them there. Thanks but no thanks.”

      1. SHG Post author

        Jack: “Millennials…in a few years…”
        Zoe: “Trump!!!”
        Everyone else: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

        1. Billy Bob

          No,… “a terrible mind is a thing to waste”! Made that up meself and put it on me busyness card. True dat! If all the terrible minds in the country were rounded up, there would not be enough prison cells to house them, or graveyard-shift guards to guard them. Some of those terrible minds get elected to political office. That’s the part that bothers us severely.

  4. the other rob

    Whenever you post a Title IX story, I think “Thank God I’m safely married and middle aged and no longer putting myself at risk of such crap”.

    It now emerges that one can be safely married and middle aged and still dive headfirst into said crap. Who knew? Aside from everybody.

    As you say, it’s the hypocrisy that’s the killer. Franken’s in a safe seat and his (D) successor will win it, after he’s thrown under the bus. Because an unexposed hypocrite is vastly preferable to an exposed one. Or something.

    I say you he dead (ob Family Guy reference).

  5. Skink

    Bartending in strip clubs paid for law school.

    On second thought, maybe I should just let this subject be.

    1. Horatio

      How many times was she grabbed or indecently proposed at Hooters? And the names of the pervs were? Or maybe those men weren’t high profile enough to get the 2008 “Top Hooters Girl of All TIme” 15 minutes of fame.

        1. Horatio

          She worked at Hooter’s as a hostess fora few years (started at age19), posed for Playboy (she has a bio web page with a male-driven commentary), modeled for FHM and Fredrick’s of Hollywood — all male-dominated testosterone-charged work atmospheres where undoubtedly the indecent proposals towards her were numerous. Yet she only calls out Democrat Senator Franken 11 years after the fact for a humiliating photo and an substantiated story. Her sudden righteousness seems disingenuous . She’s not exactly the poster-child for male sexual misconduct against women given she has flashed her assets for cash and fame, and arguably she’s contributed to it by not speaking up before now.

          1. SHG Post author

            And what does that have to do with Skink’s comment, to which you replied? Assuming there’s a connection somewhere in your head, so what if she worked at Hooters, Fredrick’s, Playboy or anywhere else?

        2. Michael Lockard

          Horatio is trying to assert that because she was a “Hooters Girl” and a former Playboy model and Victoria Secret underwear model that she was somehow “egging men on” somehow, which ignores the point that even if she ran up and down the street nekkid she does not deserve untoward advances

          1. SHG Post author

            I understand. What I failed to understand is why it was in a reply to Skink. And yes, the argument is ridiculous, regardless.

            1. Horatio

              I thought Skink’s comment was in reference to Frankens’s work history whereby this chauvenistic conduct may have been in fashion, but piggish. For context, I illustrated Tweeden’s work history whereby she arguably contributed to the fashion at the time – but hypocritically by her standards today (and not until today).

            2. SHG Post author

              So it’s the “I know you are but what am I” rationale? Smart, Tom. Worked like a charm in third grade. Sorry I expected something more, you know, mature and thoughtful.

          2. Horatio

            Context is everything. Missing from context in a point-in-time still picture, though, did her career (between 2006 and today) actually BENEFIT from this photo? “Look, guys, I’m funny! I can take a joke! Give me a job where jokes like this are acceptable!” Tweeden has gone on at least sixteen tours with the USO and has appeared on a number of testosterone shows. We don’t know if she really benefited or not. She wouldn’t admit it if it contradicted her attack. We only know that, suddenly, the picture illustrates a vile act done to an unsuspecting “innocent” girl who needs a career boost.

            If Franken stated a sexist comment today such as, “Play your cards right with Leeann Tweeden. This high card is one of a kind, and lucky for you, she’s playing with a stripped deck,” he would be a ostracized as a pig and castrated. But post this same lascivious statement on Ms. Tweeden’s Playboy bio-page and not a peep is heard from Ms. Tweeden. Context.

            1. SHG Post author

              This isn’t context. It’s rationalization. Tweeden doesn’t have to be a virgin to make what Franken did wrong. And Franken was emblematic of the time (as was Tweeden), and still this was wrong.

              And even if it’s wrong, it wasn’t death penalty wrong. Kick in the nuts wrong, sure, but not the end of the world. Bloodying Tweeden with irrelevancies doesn’t change anything.

              Stop trying to justify it. Murdering more words doesn’t make it smell less.

    1. SHG Post author

      This may yet be the Al Franken Decade if he proves himself to be as good an ally as he claims by climbing up on the altar and castrating himself for the good of the cause.

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