I’ve met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I’m a warm person; I hug people.
— Senator Franken’s written statement the Star Tribune
If you’re the astute reader that I think you are, you’ll notice that Senator Franken has not said, I’m a serial groper. I took advantage of my celebrity by grabbing women’s asses when they were taking pictures with me.
The statement is not an apology.
The statement is not a mea culpa.
The statement is a denial.
The statement is a cop out.
Essentially, Franken is saying two things: (a) he doesn’t remember grabbing anyone’s ass; and (b) if he did grab someone’s ass, it was a mistake either on their part, i.e. they’re misremembering or misinterpreting, or on his part, i.e. he didn’t mean to grab their ass, he was only giving an enthusiastic side huge with an extra-special squeeze at the end. At the end! The end! Man sometimes I just crack myself up.
No, Al, no. You know when you got to give a side hug and end up molesting someone. It is the kind of thing that the molestee and molester are aware of. If it is an accident, you say, Oh my god, I’m terribly sorry! I did not mean for that to happen, because, you know, it was an accident and you didn’t mean for that to happen, but it did.
No, Al, no one misinterprets a side photo-posing hug as a grope of the butt. No one. When someone fills their palm with your ass cheek, you know it. There is no confusing it with a an arm around the waist ending in a strong pull at the hip. One is bone. The other is a bit of fat over a big muscle. They don’t call it gluteus maximus for nothing.
Also in the statement was the phrase, he feels terribly that I’ve made some women feel badly. Some women. You feel terribly that you’ve made some women… Some women? What about me? What about your other constituents? What about every other progressive that ever believed in you? What are we? Chopped liver?
Feel badly? Feel badly? What the fuck is that? Those women didn’t just feel badly… they may have been badly felt, but they did not and do not feel badly. They were shocked, appalled, upset, disappointed. Feel badly doesn’t even begin to approach the way you’ve left those women.
With this statement, you are now just another offender in denial Congressional ethics investigation or not. This is not the leadership that the country needs to help us understand the phenomenon of sexual harassment and sexual predation that we are all growing increasingly aware of and disgusted by. This is not the leadership that we need to help us reach some kind of new paradigm for how we treat one another or how we respond to accusations or how we resolve these kinds of transgressions.
As a serial groper with the social stature that you have, you were in a unique position to help us understand the reasons behind it and find a way forward. You still can. But, time is quickly passing. The halo that we all projected onto you from your SNL days, your funny-but-true progessive politics book days, your senate election, and your hard questioning on senate committees is being slowly but surely flushed down the toilet. Once it’s clogging the toilets of the country, there is no fishing it back out and putting it back on, man. No one wants that turd floating over your head.
Just come out and say it: I’m a serial groper. I took advantage of my position. I’m sorry. What can I do to make it up to you? It won’t ever happen again.
We’re entering unexplored territory here. We need help leadership in figuring out how to deal with this situation and make some workable social norms for how we react and cope as all of the gross sexual harassment is resolved. You are in a unique position to play that role… if you’re capable of it.