A number of Democrats are feeling remorseful over what is now being considered a rush to judgement in dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct against Senator Al Franken. Franken has been asked to reconsider his resignation, even though his successor, Minnesota Lt. Governor Tina Smith has been named. Politico:
The feeling that Franken should reconsider has gained some steam outside of the Senate, too, among Democratic donors and others, including a former Republican governor of Minnesota, Arne Carlson.
“I and many other people — and specifically feminists — feel that it’s not too late, that he should not resign, and that the rush to sweep him out was ill-conceived, and we think that he has been supportive of women and women’s issues,” said Emily Jane Goodman, a retired New York state Supreme Court judge who’s helped start a Feminists for Franken group on Facebook. “Although we do deplore any kind of gender-based misconduct, we think at the same time he is entitled to a fair hearing.”
The group directly counters Gillibrand’s statement that there should be no gradations made in assessing problematic sexual conduct: “We believe it is crucial to make distinctions and to respond proportionally,” the group’s mission statement reads.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.VA) was particularly vociferous in his denunciation of fellow Democrats.
“What they did to Al was atrocious. The most hypocritical thing I’ve ever seen done to a human being — and then have enough guts to sit on the floor, watch him give his speech and go over and hug him? That’s hypocrisy at the highest level I’ve ever seen in my life. Made me sick,” Manchin said.
He added, “Here’s a man, that all he said [was], ‘Take me through the Ethics Committee. I will live by whatever decision and I will walk away thinking about this opportunity I’ve had while I was here. But you find out if I’m a predator.’”
“I hope they have enough guts ... and enough conscience and enough heart to say, ‘Al, we made a mistake asking prematurely for you to leave.’”
Other Senators are reconsidering their actions.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who issued a statement calling for Franken's resignation, has since told him privately that he regrets doing so, according to two people familiar with the conversation. Leahy declined to comment.
“I think we acted prematurely, before we had all the facts,” said a third senator who has also called for the resignation, and has since expressed regret directly to Franken. “In retrospect, I think we acted too fast.” The senator asked not to be named because of the political sensitivity of the issue among Democrats.
At least going through the ethics process would yield some valuable insight and clarify not only this situation but help to set guidelines for any future situations in the Senate. There would be a sense of closure and of justice being done if the ethics investigation went forward. On the other hand, perhaps it would merely prolong the inevitable and cause even more unsavory details to come to light. That is always the risk one takes.
It will be interesting to see if Al Franken decides to remain and go through the process or if he’s already had enough, and certainly nobody could blame him if that was the case.