He won’t, but he should.
Sen. Al Franken last week was revealed to be a skeevy perv. A woman who traveled with him during a two-week United Service Organization (USO) tour said that Mr. Franken forcibly kissed her without her consent — and the Minnesota Democrat was seen in a photograph with an apish grin as he groped the sleeping woman’s chest.
Democrats in the Senate got on the same page quickly and are pushing to dump the matter into the Ethics Committee (motto: “Where allegations go to die”). After a few months, that committee will say it admonishes Mr. Franken for his actions but recommends to punishment. That’s how things always go with the unethical committee.
But Democrats are sounding off more strongly about Mr. Franken, especially in the climate following the Harvey Weinstein allegations of gross sexual misconduct and rape.
“This kind of conduct is totally unacceptable, abhorrent and repugnant, and I think Al Franken’s apology recognizes it,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Well, sure, but then, what’s his punishment?
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York tweeted: “The allegations against Sen. Franken are deeply concerning. This kind of behavior is unacceptable & should not be tolerated anywhere in our society. There is nothing funny about it and there is no excuse for it.”
“What Al Franken did was inappropriate and unacceptable. He must be held accountable, as should anyone who treats women this way,” said Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.
Said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington: “This is unacceptable behavior and extremely disappointing. I am glad Al came out and apologized, but that doesn’t reverse what he’s done or end the matter.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer agree that the matter should go to the Ethics Committee — a rare bipartisan move in the hyper partisan swamp that is Washington, D.C.
But the resolution of the matter is pretty clear, at least in the eyes of voters: Minnesotans trusted Mr. Franken enough to elect him as their senator; Mr. Franken has broken that trust; therefore, Mr. Franken should resign. Simple.
And, surprisingly, some Hollywood celebrities are calling for Mr. Franken to leave.
“Zero tolerance. If we don’t hold all accountable for horrible behavior — nothing changes. Sorry, @SenAlFranken you should not be in a position to represent the female constituents in your state,” tweeted Alyssa Milano, one of the stars of “Charmed.”
Actor Tom Arnold tweeted: “Stop it! I’m a liberal & know both of them & I believe @LeeannTweeden 100%. She’s a great mom & woman. @alfranken needs to own this right now or get out.”
Slate, a liberal magazine, also called for his departure. “There is no rational reason to doubt the truth of Tweeden’s accusations, no legitimate defense of Franken’s actions, and no ambiguity here at all: Franken should resign from the Senate immediately. Democrats should call for him to step down straightaway. This revelation is a test of the Democratic Party’s consistency, honesty and decency,” Mark Joseph Stern wrote.
The New York Times, too called for his resignation, in a piece titled: “Franken Should Go.”
“The question isn’t about what’s fair to Franken, but what’s fair to the rest of us. I would mourn Franken’s departure from the Senate, but I think he should go, and the governor should appoint a woman to fill his seat. The message to men in power about sexual degradation has to be clear: We will replace you,” wrote Michelle Goldberg.
No, Mr. Franken’s play days in the Senate are over. He’s not Bill Clinton — for whom Democrats gladly averted their eyes as he sexually molested woman after woman. And he’s no longer the vote that gave the party a 60-member super majority.
By ousting Mr. Franken, the party can look as if it takes women’s issues seriously — which it sells each election cycle as one of just a few reason to vote Democratic. If the party fails to push him out, the cries of hypocrisy will ring from sea to shining sea.
Roy Moore of Alabama, a Republican, has been savaged following allegations that he took advantage of young women. He denies the charges, but still, critics demand he drop out of the race for a U.S. Senate seat.
Mr. Franken, on the other hand, is already a senator. How on earth can Democrats say Mr. Moore should drop out (over unproven and contested charges, mind you) and Mr. Franken (who admitted the allegations and apologized) should not.
No, this little scandal ends only one way of the Democrats know what’s good for them. If not, look for Republicans to use the issue throughout the 2018 campaign — to great effect.
A spokesman for Mr. Franken said the senator will be spending Thanksgiving with his family in Washington, D.C., and is “doing a lot of reflecting.”
But unlike his “Saturday Night Live” character, Stuart Smalley — who would stare into a mirror and say “I deserve good things” and “I refuse to beat myself up” — Mr. Franken’s reflection this time won’t say: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”
It’ll say: “Get out.”
• Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.