But those who decry what’s happening with Franken — and the #metoo reckoning writ large — as “moral flattening” are doing some serious steamrolling themselves, yoking together every corporate disavowal, every canceled contract and every defunct résumé line into the same tragic ending, such as Ziegler characterizing Franken’s likely return to civilian life as a “demise.” Or Gingrich equating the same move to dangling off the branch of a tree. (I am reminded of Mike Barnicle bemoaning the fate of his erstwhile MSNBC co-contributor Mark Halperin: “But does he deserve to die?”) Much as rape is not opportunistic groping and exposing oneself is not child molestation, there’s a whole scale of consequences available between death and “no longer having an extraordinarily prestigious and well-paying job.”
Franken will leave the Senate quite alive, and with little threat (at this moment) of legal damage. He might have been denied “due process,” but that’s not because he won’t appear in front of the Ethics Committee, which will drop its recently opened investigation if he leaves the Senate; it’s because he’s not being criminally charged. His life won’t just not be over, it won’t even be ruined — he’s a wealthy man with many friends who show no sign of desertion. And I can’t see a man with Franken’s sizable talents and ego ever totally disappearing from the national stage.