She was a minor elected official in New Hampshire at the time and was a guest for a live taping of his left-wing “Air America” radio show, which strongly suggests she’s a Democrat. (According to The Slot, “she’s long admired Franken’s politics.”) She told her sister and a friend afterward, both of whom describe themselves as liberal. The Slot is itself part of the liberal feminist site Jezebel. There’s no apparent partisan motive in this woman speaking up. And there’s obviously no fame-seeking motive since she’s remaining anonymous.
Franken’s best defense is that, by her own telling of what happened, this occurred onstage in full view of an audience of people. How improper could it have been?
After the interview, the woman tells us, “I reached out my hand to shake his.” Then, she says, “He took it and leaned toward me with his mouth open. I turned my head away from him and he landed a wet, open-mouthed kiss awkwardly on my cheek.”
The woman says she was in disbelief. “I was stunned and incredulous. I felt demeaned. I felt put in my place.” She says, too, that although they were in an extremely public place, no one noticed: “It was onstage in front of a full theater… It was insidious. It was in plain sight and yet nobody saw it.” She adds, referring to the women who say Franken groped them during photo ops: “The other women’s accounts of him grabbing their buttocks in front of their mothers and husbands, I believe them.”
The friend whom she told at the time said she independently remembered the woman’s story after Leeann Tweeden came forward to claim that Franken had given her a similarly aggressive kiss during a USO rehearsal. Maybe the woman just misinterpreted his intentions? Or maybe this is how Franken gets away with it, by hiding in plain sight. Literally every account of him kissing or groping women improperly so far has been in the context of a performance of some type — a show rehearsal, a radio-show taping, posing for pics with constituents. This report in the American Spectator from a few weeks ago recounted more groping by a much younger Franken during a comedy show with his partner Tom Davis circa 1980:
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.
The groping allegedly continued for the duration of the song, the women moving Franken’s and Davis’s hands up and the men moving their hands back down, to laughter. That can be spun as a gag from a less enlightened time, with the joke being the brazen opportunism in copping a feel. But maybe it was Franken’s joke on himself, either because he gets off on the idea of getting away with this stuff in front of spectators (although that wouldn’t explain the rehearsal kiss with Tweeden) or because it’s his way of rationalizing his behavior to himself. It’s a performance! The script demanded a kiss. The photo op called for close quarters between him and his woman constituent. He was just thanking that official in New Hampshire for appearing on his show. If he was really a sleazebag, he wouldn’t dream of behaving pruriently with people watching.
If you doubt her story or that of Stephanie Kemplin, the Army vet who accused Franken this morning of having grabbed her breast before a photo in 2003, ask yourself this: Why would they deviate from Franken’s alleged M.O. in concocting their lies? Alternately, if they were going to deviate from his M.O., why wouldn’t they have concocted much more serious offenses? Franken has been accused repeatedly of grabbing women’s asses; if they’re lying, Kemplin and the unnamed woman from The Slot’s story could have each maximized their credibility by saying “he grabbed my ass too.” Or, if they were out to wreck Franken for whatever reason, they could have accused him of rape, using their casual contact with him as proof that they’d met him before. Instead they’re claiming slight variations of behavior he’s already been accused of. Why would they do that if they’re lying? Why wouldn’t they at least claim that they were assaulted privately, with no one around, so as to evade the obvious counter that Franken wouldn’t dared have done this with other people watching?
Here’s how his enlightened Democratic colleagues are handling the latest news. You’ll remember Kirsten Gillibrand as the newly woke feminist who decided recently that Bill Clinton should have resigned in 1998 after having campaigned with him multiple times in the interim:
Gillibrand, asked by @sarbetter if Franken should resign from the Senate: "It's his decision."
— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) November 30, 2017
Unbelievable yet perfectly believable. I’ve been thinking he’ll survive this because his offenses are trivial compared to, say, Harvey Weinstein’s, but Pelosi coming out against Conyers this morning by calling on him to resign has complicated that tremendously. Conyers’s lawyer has already begun asking why the black congressman is being pushed out but not the white senator from Minnesota. There are non-racial explanations for that — the abuse of power that Conyers is accused of is worse than the one Franken is accused of — but Democrats do *not* want to end up in a situation where they’re fielding questions from black voters about why they’re keeping the white guy on when the black “icon” suddenly had to go. Party leaders will be looking to scalp Franken now to balance the scales, especially with new allegations coming out. The sooner they do it, the better: The example they set probably won’t matter to Alabama voters but it’ll leave Schumer better positioned to pressure Mitch McConnell into expelling Moore from the Senate after he wins. And when, inevitably, McConnell can’t find 67 votes to do that, Schumer and the Democrats will use Moore as a cudgel against Republicans all next year. Franken is a small price to pay for that when a Democratic replacement is waiting in the wings.