Right and Left React to Al Franken’s Decision to Resign

Zach Gibson for The New York Times

Christine Flowers in The Philadelphia Daily News:
“I’m sorry Franken folded.”
Ms. Flowers is “as conservative as they come,” but in this case, she’s decided to come to the defense of Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota. She sees his resignation as a sign that the movement to call out and expel sexual harassers — the #MeToo movement — has gotten out of control. The movement, she asserts, mixes “all sorts of conduct together and retroactively stigmatizing acts that — until the social media age — were considered boorish and brutish but not capital offenses.” Republicans who are reveling in Mr. Franken’s resignation, she warns, are falling victim to “agitprop and exaggeration” just because the “the other guy’s bull is getting gored.” Read more »
Rich Lowry in National Review:
“Surely, the state of Minnesota can come up with someone to occupy one of its two Senate seats who hasn’t treated people this way and been dishonest about it.”
Mr. Lowry says he doesn’t buy Mr. Franken’s apology during his resignation speech. Whether he is innocent, as the senator claims, Mr. Lowry writes, then he shouldn’t resign. After all, “a duly-elected senator wrongly accused owes it to himself and his constituents to fight on.” Read more »
George Neumayr in American Spectator:
“The Democrats saw an opportunity for some cost-free moral posturing. Franken was ‘doing the right thing,’ they said. But how is he doing the right
From the Left
Joan Walsh in The Nation:
“I would like to see Franken’s departure be not just another #MeToo moment but a long-delayed #TrumpToo moment.”
Though Ms. Walsh initially said that she did not think that Mr. Franken should resign from his seat in the Senate, she now sees his departure as a political opportunity. She’s referring, of course, to Democrats using that momentum to hold hearings about accusations of sexual misconduct by President Trump. And while she says she is a realist about the effect that the minority party can have with such hearings, she nonetheless suggests that Democrats need to be more aggressive with Mr. Trump. For one, she argues that it would “encourage demoralized progressives” to bring Mr. Trump to “public account.” Read more »
Paul Waldman in The Week:
“Who survives this kind of scandal? The ones that are the least repentant — and often, the most guilty.”
Thursday’s events follow a depressing pattern when it comes to political scandals, Mr. Waldman says. Those who are accused of harassment but stand their ground are rarely held to account by their own parties. He adds, “No matter what you did, there’s a good chance you’ll win.” Read more »
Kate Harding in The Washington Post:
“I don’t believe resigning from his position is the only possible consequence, or the one that’s best for American women.”
In November, when she wrote this commentary, Ms. Harding argued that Mr. Franken should not resign. She acknowledged that the position might seem strange to readers who know her as a feminist and an author of the book “Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America.” However, she says she is worried about setting a precedent where “in the interest of demonstrating our party’s solidarity with harassed and abused women, we’re only going to drain the swamp of people who, however flawed, still regularly vote to protect women’s rights and freedoms.” While the Minnesota seat that Mr. Franken is vacating will most likely be filled by another Democrat, Ms. Harding worries about what will happen the next time a Democrat is asked to step down in a less secure seat. Read more »

Roy S. Moore spoke at a campaign rally on Tuesday in Fairhope, Ala.
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
Jonathan Bernstein in Bloomberg:
“It’s hard to imagine any voter in Alabama who would have voted for Moore without the revelations about his behavior who then pulls back from supporting Democrat Doug Jones because Democrats weren’t tough enough on Franken.”
Mr. Bernstein says he isn’t so sure that Democrats have won a vital political cudgel in forcing Mr. Franken to resign. He’s not sure that holding Mr. Franken to account will move any Alabama voters away from voting for the Republican candidate, Roy S. Moore. What will be interesting to watch, however, is what will happen to Justice Clarence Thomas, who also once faced accusations of sexual harassment. Mr. Bernstein points out that “if he were to retire from the court, Trump would be able to nominate a much younger replacement who is at least as reliable a vote for Republican priorities.” Read more »
Chris Cillizza in CNN:
“Franken is simultaneously saying that he believes the women who have accused him have a right to be heard while also making very clear that he is not admitting he had done the things they alleged.”
There was nothing apologetic about Mr. Franken’s resignation, Mr. Cillizza writes. The senator’s remarks on Thursday, Mr. Cillizza notes, clearly indicate that he just does not believe he is guilty. Read more »
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Correction: December 8, 2017
An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the author of an article in The Washington Post. The author, Kate Harding, is a woman.

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