It’s an old joke in politics that any politician who resigns after public humiliation always claims he is doing so to “spend more time with his family.” Senator Al Franken is mixing that up a bit. He has been publicly humiliated and he will be spending time with family but after a few days off he plans to return to work. From the Star Tribune:
Suddenly a senator whose statewide approval rating stood at 58 percent in the last Star Tribune Minnesota Poll is facing calls to resign — even from prominent Minnesota DFLers and deeply disappointed supporters…
“I thought about the woman in the photo, and what I would feel like if that was me,” said Melissa Davenport, a Minneapolis woman who came to the State Capitol on Friday for a rally against sexual harassment. Davenport said she was a fan of Franken but now believes he should resign.
Asked Saturday whether Franken would resign, a spokesperson for the senator responded: “No.”
“He is spending time with his family in Washington, D.C., and will be through the Thanksgiving holiday,” the staffer said by text, “and he’s doing a lot of reflecting.”
Is he really reflecting on this? That seems like the sexual harassment equivalent of “thoughts and prayers,” i.e. something you say to sound sincere whether or not you really have any thoughts or prayers to offer. At the American Spectator, an author named Happy Jack Feder recalls a skit Franken and his co-star Tom Davis did during a comedy tour of Montana in 1980.
Franken (or was it Davis?) announced it was time to take a break from the rollicking hilarity and laughter. It was time to dance!
They each stepped off the front of the stage and into the chairs and picked out two comely young college girls and brought them up to the stage. The lights dimmed. Soft, romantic music began to play. Franken and Davis wrapped their arms around their partners and pressed their bodies close. The girls complied.
They danced. They swayed.
And then Al’s hands slid down to his dancing partner’s ass. And I use the word ‘ass’ because in that context, that’s the word you’d use. Not buttocks or fanny or tail or bottom. Ass.
His hands began fondling her ass.
Same with Davis.
Ha ha ha. There was laughter from the assembled voyeurs, excuse me, spectators.
The girls both reached behind and moved the roving hands up.
This was repeated over and over. Feder adds, “I kept waiting for a punchline, as though the ass grab was a setup. But it wasn’t a setup. Fondling the fanny was the whole point.” Presumably, this wasn’t a one-time occurrence. Franken and Davis were on a comedy tour of colleges and probably did this “skit” at other schools with other college girls.
Of course, Franken wasn’t a Senator at the time. He was a 28 or 29-year-old comic. Still, there does seem to be some precedent for Franken pushing the boundaries of sexual harassment as part of his act. That adds some credence to the allegations made by Leeann Tweeden, i.e. that Franken wrote a kissing scene into a skit and demanded they rehearse it.
Here’s Al and Tom Davis on their comedy tour in 1980 doing a song as the Rolling Stones. I’ll give Franken this, he does a pretty good Mick Jagger: