For the first time, amid the many, many, many allegations of misconduct made against powerful men over the past month, there’s photographic evidence of the bad behavior. Click and scroll down and you’ll see Franken grabbing, or pretending to grab, a sleeping Leeann Tweeden’s breasts on the trip home from a USO tour of the Middle East in 2006.
No doubt that’ll be spun as a very bad, tacky, offensive joke but a joke nonetheless, worthy of an apology but nothing more. How about this, though, from Tweeden’s account? She says she was only supposed to emcee the USO show but that Franken, the headliner, wrote a part for her in one of the show’s skits. A special part involving a kiss:
On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. 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…
I felt disgusted and violated.
She pushed him away, she says, and didn’t let him kiss her during the show. So, assuming she’s telling the truth, Franken decided to pay her back by humiliating her on camera while she was sleeping on the flight home.
I guess now we’ll see now how serious all of the Democrats writing verrrrry belated “Bill Clinton was bad after all” op-eds are about punishing the malfeasors still in their ranks. The spin they’ve been using the past week is that many of them were very young when the Lewinsky scandal broke and have matured in their view of the propriety of Clinton’s behavior since. But that ignores 20 years of treating Clinton as a statesman and party elder in good standing, who would have been welcomed back in the White House as First Gentleman. Peter Spiliakos lays it out today at NRO:
This isn’t just about 1999. Where was “I believe Juanita” last year? Yglesias said it best: “Attacking Bill was, by extension, an attack on Hillary — an attack that most people in leading positions in American progressive politics had no desire to make.”
That’s right. Being sharply critical of Bill Clinton for sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape was considered bad form by liberals in the same way that volunteering criticism of George W. Bush’s mistakes in Iraq is considered bad form by establishment Republicans. Clinton’s victims were known. The culture didn’t change in the sense that Yglesias, Rosenberg, Hayes, and Goldberg suddenly learned that rape is bad. They knew. What changed was that forthrightly attacking Bill Clinton was no longer giving aid and comfort to the enemy. And by enemy, they meant not rapists, but Republicans.
If our liberal journalists want to know what kind of person sticks with Roy Moore regardless of the recent revelations, they don’t have to go on a safari to rural Alabama. They can just look in the mirror and see someone who stands by a sexual predator as long as it is their sexual predator in a key position of power.
Well, here’s the big test. Al Franken, progressive, longshot presidential candidate in 2020, now stands credibly accused of assault, replete with a photo. Will there be any consequences? He’ll apologize for the photo at a minimum but he might dispute that any kiss happened with Tweeden. Who will the “I believe Juanita *now*” Democrats side with? And what happens if Tweeden isn’t the only person to accuse Franken of misconduct?
Franken writes in his most recent book that he decided to run for Senate on the 2006 USO tour where Tweeden has accused him of forced kissing and groping pic.twitter.com/6L7VQ4s3OU
— Mike Sacks (@MikeSacksEsq) November 16, 2017
Update: A tweet from last month. Of all the woke bros who molest women while they’re sleeping, Senator Al is among the wokest.
I believe we should do everything in our power to support survivors of sexual violence.
— U.S. Senator Al Franken (@SenFranken) October 20, 2017
Update: Franken’s predictable reply:
Just got a response from @alfranken: "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."
— Asher Klein (@kleinstar) November 16, 2017
There’s “only” one accuser — for now. What do Democrats do? Believe the victim or believe their colleague?
Update: A haunting what-if:
Al Franken was elected to the senate by a 312-vote margin about two years after incident. If it was known at the time, would he have ever been Senator?
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) November 16, 2017
ObamaCare passed the Senate with the bare minimum of 60 votes. Franken was among the 60. If he had lost his Senate race, would America have the program today?
Update: If Franken resigned, the Democratic governor would appoint a replacement to serve out his term. It’s quite possible given his prominence within the party that that replacement would be Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the House. Ellison’s the man whom Roy Moore said shouldn’t be seated in the House in 2006; if Ellison replaces Franken and Moore wins his race next month, they’ll be … Senate colleagues.