Al Franken is 'ashamed' but looking forward to returning to work tomorrow

We knew this was coming. A week ago, a spokesperson for Sen. Franken said he would not resign but would spend Thanksgiving week “reflecting.” In the midst of his week of reflection, two more women came forward saying he grabbed them when taking a photo with them. But that apparently hasn’t changed Franken’s plans. Today he told Minnesota media outlets he was looking forward to returning to work tomorrow. From the Star Tribune:

“I’m embarrassed and ashamed. I’ve let a lot of people down and I’m hoping I can make it up to them and gradually regain their trust,” said Franken, who has kept a low profile since four different women shared accounts of being groped, embarrassed and, in one case, forcibly kissed by the Minnesota Democrat.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow,” he added in a phone interview.

Franken, who said he has posed for “tens of thousands of photos” over the years, says he does not remember any that ended with his hand sliding down to cup women’s backsides, as several have alleged.

“I don’t remember these photographs, I don’t,” he said. “This is not something I would intentionally do.”

It’s not true that this is not something Franken would intentionally do. As I noted last week, Al Franken and his comedy partner Tom Davis used to do a skit during their college tour in the early 80s which consisted of inviting young women from the audience on stage, dancing with them, and repeatedly sliding their hands onto their rear ends. So it would actually be more accurate to say that Al Franken groped women’s behinds for a living, albeit many years ago. But as we’ve seen with Louis C.K., the line between the comedy act and reality is sometimes pretty thin.

Wednesday, two more women claimed that Franken had grabbed their behinds while taking photos with them. From HuffPost:

Two more women have told HuffPost that Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) touched their butts in separate incidents. These are the third and fourth such allegations against Franken in the past week…

“My story is eerily similar to Lindsay Menz’s story,” the first woman said. “He grabbed my buttocks during a photo op.”

The second woman told HuffPost that Franken cupped her butt with his hand at a 2008 Democratic fundraiser in Minneapolis, then suggested the two visit the bathroom together. She spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear that the allegation could affect her position at work.

“My immediate reaction was disgust,” the second woman said. “But my secondary reaction was disappointment. I was excited to be there and to meet him. And so to have that happen really deflated me. It felt like: ‘Is this really the person who is going to be in a position of power to represent our community?’”

Franken denied propositioning anyone to meet him in the bathroom but, as the Washington Post points out, that’s about the only thing Franken has denied. He has not denied putting his hand on women’s butts, only that he did so intentionally.

If you’re confused by what he’s trying to say here, you’re not the only one. Franken’s attempt at clarifying what happened only raises more questions, the central ones being: Did he grab these women’s buttocks or not? If he did, how, exactly, was it unintentional? Were the women mistaken?…

By contrast, his accusers left no nuance about what happened: Franken’s hand clearly grabbed their buttocks, they say, when they were expecting a professional photo with a politician.

As Jazz pointed out, Franken’s apology really boils down to him feeling sorry some women felt bad about their interactions with him. He’s simultaneously saying he won’t disagree with their stories out of respect for their feelings and also saying he can’t remember the encounters. The gist of his various statements is that, yes, it might have happened, unintentionally, but if everyone will give him a pass he’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.

I’m just going to put this out there: I think Franken is lying. I think he did this intentionally, probably more than a few times. I would bet he told himself it was a gag, something his role as comedian turned Senator allowed him to get away with. Now he’s asking for a pass without really admitting he did anything wrong. Will he get away with it? I think he probably will unless more accusers come forward.