We should not be surprised by the news that “at least four senators are urging Al Franken to reconsider resigning, including two who issued statements calling for the resignation two weeks ago and said they now feel remorse over what they feel was a rush to judgment.”
One can’t help but notice that 11 days have passed since Al Franken declared, “in the coming weeks I will be resigning as member of the United States Senate.” Not only has Franken not resigned yet, he has not publicly declared a date of resignation. Haley Byrd looks at those changing their mind about Franken and wonders what, exactly, has changed between Franken’s eighth accuser came forward and now – other than the resolution of the Alabama Senate race to their liking.
The Washington Post helpfully explains, “A resignation speech isn’t the same thing as a resignation. A senator’s resignation is not official until they submit a letter to their state’s governor announcing the resignation and the effective date.”
Far too many people in politics have developed a simple but reassuring approach to accusations of improper sexual behavior: they believe the accusations against the members of the other party, but refuse to believe the accusations against their political allies.
Democrats, Republicans, men, women – everyone would be better off there were clearer, less subjective criteria for evaluating an accusation of misconduct. Is this the first accusation against the figure, or are there multiple accusers? Is the alleged misconduct verbal, written, or physical? Does the accuser have any discernable motivation to make a false accusation against the figure? Can we verify that the accuser and the accused were in the same place at the same time? How many specifics of the accuser’s version of events check out? Were there any witnesses?
In Franken’s case, there are eight accusers, one photo of him appearing to either grope or mimic groping against Leeann Tweeden, several of the accusers are active in Minnesota Democratic politics, several have photos taken with Franken moments before or after his alleged groping, and Tina Dupuy, who was an intern for a Democratic member of Congress in 2009, described Franken groping her at a Media Matters Inauguration Party. That’s an awful lot of misunderstood accidental brushings of hands to explain away for Franken’s fans and defenders.