Why Al Franken Should Have Stuck It Out-Due Process; Why Al Franken Had To Go-Politics

By

Leonard Zwelling

It is not a particularly sad day when any one member of the US Senate resigns. Given the track record of the current members of the upper chamber since 2010, losing one of one hundred will probably be without significant effect.

That being said, Al Franken (D-MN), the SNL alum and nouveau pol, was not the person I most thought likely to be gone. But he is.

Apparently, Mr. Franken has a problem with touching women who are not his wife in inappropriate ways and this problem dates back to at least 2006, before he was in the Senate, but appears to transcend the time after his election in 2008.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/07/politics/al-franken-resignation-decision/index.html

For those of us who enjoyed his dry wit and pointed questioning of bad guys like Jeff Sessions, this presents a bit of a quandary. I actually thought that Franken had a long career ahead of him and that he would make significant contributions to the country. That’s over.

I had wished he had stuck out the Ethics Committee investigation so that his peers could determine what a fitting punishment might be once the facts were unearthed. I am not sure they have been yet and I guess it is all moot now. I always wish due process to be used when people are accused of misbehavior. It’s the safest way forward and protects the innocent. Alas, the pressure on Franken to resign became too great as a large majority of the Dems in the Senate wanted him to leave. Why? Why not let him stay and fight the allegations?

In two words—Roy Moore.

If the Democrats did not cleanse themselves of Franken and John Conyers prior to Moore getting elected next Tuesday, they would have had a hard case to make that Moore should not be allowed to take his seat in the Senate. Now the decks are clear. If Moore wins, the Dems will beat the GOP over the head with the resignations of Conyers and Franken. If we can do the right thing, why can’t you guys not seat a child molester? Of course, Moore too deserves due process and I suspect that he will get it as I think Mr. McConnell will ask for him to be cleared by Ethics prior to his being permanently seated.

But make no mistake. Al Franken fell victim to today’s politics. In the age of MeToo# there is no being a little bit guilty. It’s zero tolerance from now on and I guess that’s how it ought to be.

I am still unsure that the punishment fit the crime here, but it doesn’t matter what I think nor what a group of Senator Franken’s peers might think after a thorough investigation. He was downed by politics, a most cruel razor, and there was really nothing that he could do.

What is so troubling to me is that the zero tolerance standard, while correct, is cutting off the public’s knowledge of what these guys really did, in some cases. Fortunately, the mainstream media is doing its job and we can know that what Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., and Charlie Rose did was truly horrendous. Some of this must be criminal.

What is not satisfying is exemplified by the case of Franken. What he did may not have risen to criminality, but the punishment is as severe as that of those whose deeds did reach the felony level. Zero tolerance is fine, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t shades of grey. We need an airing out of the offenses to collectively determine what those shades are and what reasonable punishment is.

Leonard Zwelling