Wednesday, December 06, 2017


As I'm sure you know, there's another Al Franken accuser:
A former Democratic congressional aide said Al Franken tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, three years before he became a U.S. senator.

The aide, whose name POLITICO is withholding to protect her identity, said Franken (D-Minn.) pursued her after her boss had left the studio. She said she was gathering her belongings to follow her boss out of the room. When she turned around, Franken was in her face.

The former staffer ducked to avoid Franken’s lips. As she hastily left the room, she said, Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”

“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right and I ducked,” the aide said in an interview.
More than a dozen Democratic colleagues have asked him to step down. He's planning an announcement tomorrow.

(Also read Tina Dupuy's account of a Franken grope she experienced at a 2008 Election Night party. Dupuy's story was just published by The Atlantic.)

I know that a lot of Democrats see this as unilateral disarmament, at a time when Roy Moore is on the verge of being elected to the Senate and there's no chance President Trump will resign in shame.

But if you don't think the fact that it's the right thing to do is sufficient reason for Franken to resign, then let's get pragmatic.

Yes, Moore is probably going to the Senate. No, there won't be a successful vote to expel him. And the president is just going to continue denying his own sexual transgressions. But that leaves voters with a clear choice in 2018 and beyond: If Franken steps down, Democrats can say they demanded a reckoning for their sexual assailants (John Conyers, too), while Republicans closed ranks to protect Moore and Trump (as well as, so far, Blake Farenthold). If you're a woman, or a decent man, and sexual misconduct disgusts you, which party represents your values? Going into 2018 and 2020, isn't this a better message for Democrats than "We protect our own predators, just like the Republicans"?

If Franken resigns, his replacement will be chosen by Democratic governor Mark Dayton, and the replacement will hold the seat until the next statewide election, in 2018. Franken, if he were to remain in office, would be up for reelection in 2020 -- and would have to defend himself on these charges. You may think it's better for him to try to redeem himself over the next three years than for a new Democrat to run next year, but remember: If Franken doesn't resign, other Democrats will have to answer for him next year. I don't think he'd be a drag on every Democrat nationwide, but he'd certainly be a drag on Amy Klobuchar (who, as it happens, will running in Minnesota for reelection to her Senate seat next year), as well as on whatever Democrat runs to succeed Governor Dayton, who isn't running for reelection (he's 70 and recently fought prostate cancer).

And if you think Republicans wouldn't have the unmitigated gall to attack Franken while their ranks include Senator Moore and President Trump, you underestimate the GOP's comfort with hypocrisy.

Could Democrats hold both Senate seats in Minnesota next year? It's not certain, but the odds are in Democrats' favor. On the one hand, last year's presidential race in Minnesota was close -- Hillary Clinton won by only a 1.5% margin. On the other hand, the president's approval/disapproval in Minnesota is now 38.8%/56.1%. If the election is a referendum on Trump, the Democrats should be in good shape.

Democrats have quite a few potential candidates to choose from, beyond the obvious Keith Ellison. Read about some of them here and here. There are men and women, whites and non-whites, progressives and moderates, and, in addition to Ellison, there's been a petition campaign to draft Ilhan Omar, a Somalia-born state legislator, for the seat. Governor Dayton's best move might be to choose a reliable Democratic who doesn't want to run for the seat and let the voters and the party sort it out next year. (But please, sort it out carefully -- we need to hold the seat.)

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