Al Franken Resigns

Below is video of Al Franken's resignation speech to the Senate. A complete transcript is available at the New York Times.

I did not like this speech. I did not like that he was obliged to give it because of his own behavior, and I did not like its contents.

He did not take responsibility for his actions. He said he didn't do anything wrong, he never admitted doing anything wrong, and he isn't sorry.

He couldn't even be bothered to concede that the photo understandably conveyed to many women that he can't be trusted to take sexual assault seriously.

The entire address was designed to petition himself as a martyr. Many progressives will view him that way. And the cause for which he'll be the martyr is "sexual harassment and/or assault accountability has gone too far."

Like many men accused of sexual offenses before him, Franken's grand statement on the matter is incredibly revealing of who he actually is.

Claiming that he did nothing wrong makes his design to resign seem quite absurd. He tried to explain that absurdity by asserting it's because the ethics investigation he presumes would exonerate him would be a distraction from serving his constituents. Progressives have long sneered at Republicans forced to resign because of various indecencies, trying to walk precisely that same tightrope. I did nothing wrong, but I've become a distraction. We have held it in contempt for good reason. It is a lie.

It is the lie that Franken is using so that we won't pay close attention to what he's really saying in admitting no guilt but resigning anyway: He is resigning because lying bitches ran him out.

Is that unfair? Well, I don't know how else to interpret this:
A couple months ago, I felt that we had entered an important moment in the history of this country. We were finally beginning to listen to women about the ways in which men's actions affect them. The moment was long overdue.

I was excited for that conversation and hopeful that it would result in real change that made life better for women all across the country and in every part of our society.

Then the conversation turned to me. Over the last few weeks, a number of women have come forward to talk about how they felt my actions had affected them.

I was shocked. I was upset. But, in responding to their claims, I also wanted to be respectful of that broader conversation, because all women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously.

I think that was the right thing to do. I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that, in fact, I haven't done.

Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others, I remember very differently.

I said at the outset that the ethics committee was the right venue for these allegations to be heard and investigated and evaluated on their merits; that I was prepared to cooperate fully, and that I was confident in the outcome.

You know, an important part of the conversation we've been having the last few months has been about how men abuse their power and privilege to hurt women. I am proud that, during my time in the Senate, I have used my power to be a champion of women, and that I've earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside every day. I know there's been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks, but I know who I really am.

Serving in the United States Senate has been the great honor of my life. I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator — nothing — has brought dishonor on this institution. And I am confident that the ethics committee would agree. Nevertheless, today I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate.
That is just the first part of the speech. The rest is primarily about his legacy, and what a cool experience — a "rush" — politics has been for him.

"I know that the work I've been able to do has improved people's lives. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat," he said.

If that sounds like a strange thing to say in a resignation speech over accusations you harmed at least 8 women, it is. It's also the kind of thing one says when one really and truly isn't sorry.

Like I said. Revealing.

I grieve that Al Franken had to resign today. My grief is not because we are losing a valuable progressive ally to women. It's because of the clarity that he was never really one in the first place.

I will never, ever, stop being sad about the number of progressive men who can deliver the correct votes on abortion and equal pay and every other issue affecting women, who can give soaring speeches about women's rights, but who cannot treat us with dignity.

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