The hypocritical Left is discrediting itself for the foreseeable future by contriving ways to pretend that what Al Franken was credibly accused of doing to a fellow performer during a 2006 USO tour wasn’t so bad, and what about Roy Moore and Donald Trump? As Ed Driscoll wrote today,
The media’s ability to pivot on a dime in the same week from throwing a dissipated Bill Clinton overboard and attacking Roy Moore to granting Franken a very ‘90s-era one free grope rule is amazing to watch. Decades of these sort of power politics by the left (see also: supporters of Kennedy, Ted) explain why many continue to circle the wagons around Moore. Or as Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics tweeted on Tuesday, “I don’t think you can underestimate the degree to which many conservatives have this attitude: (a) we fought a battle over whether character counts, and got our asses handed to us and (b) liberal leaders always circle the wagons around their guys, and ours always cave.”
Franken was in a position to make such embarrassments unnecessary, and to show how responsible elected officials expected to be role models should conduct themselves when accountability knocks. Instead, he made not one but two unethical apologies, the second worse than the first. The fact that his enablers in his party and the media rushed to accept them doesn’t make either less awful. As I explained, in his ultimate apology he 1) never specifically apologized to Ms Tweeden, lumping her into a mass apology to thousands 2) simultaneously said that women should be believed when they accuse men of sexual misconduct, and undermined Tweeden’s account by saying that he didn’t recall it as she described, and 3) said there was no excuse for his conduct while excusing it as just another joke that misfired, an occupational hazard of being a comedian—remember folks, I was a comedian then!
At the risk of repeating myself, I designated Franken Apology Take Two as a #10 on the Apology Scale, and I am convinced that was fair. (The final straw? Asking for a Senate ethics investigation that could only prove Tweeden’s account unsupported, or simply confirm what we were already told. Why couldn’t Franken just accept the account of his accuser? The reason is that he wants to discredit her without appearing “not to believe the victim of sexual misconduct.” Yechhh.) This is the description of a #10, the bottom of the barrel:
10. An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.
It didn’t have to be this way. Senator Franken could and should have delivered a Level 1 apology, and would have been better served by it, as would our culture, political system and all of us:
1. An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness.
Here is the statement he should have issued.
I begin by apologizing to Leeann Tweeden. My conduct toward her in the kissing incident she described, as well as the actions and attitude shown in the photograph she produced, were gross, inexcusable, and wrong. I am deeply ashamed. I also ask her forgiveness for the discomfort and stress my behavior must have caused her.
I hope I have the opportunity to apologize directly to you, Leeann, and can find some way, somehow, to demonstrate my remorse.
I will not pretend that these were the only examples in my past of engaging in harassing and otherwise offensive conduct toward women in a sexual context. As we have seen in recent weeks, the entertainment field has long been consumed by a culture that is disrespectful, hostile and even dangerous to women. I was part of that culture for many years. I was both corrupted by it, and insensitive to it. In my own way, I realize that I share responsibility not only for my own mistreatment of some of the women I worked with, but also the mistreatment of them by those around me, and by the industry itself. I deeply regret this as well.
I also regret, as a public figure and elected representative of the citizens of Minnesota, my cynical posturing when, to score political points, I criticized the behavior of others who had behaved or boasted about behaving as I knew I had myself. This was dishonest, and hypocritical. I have no right to misrepresent myself as a moral authority in this matter, when I know that I have been a repeat offender. I hope, however, to eventually prove to women, my party, the Senate, my constituents and the nation that I have learned what was so, so wrong with my conduct in the past, and finally understand what I, and other men of all ages and in all walks of life have not understood, and in not understanding, have done horrible harm to women professionally, socially, and psychically.
We need to forge a better culture for the future. Not one that inhibits men and women from having productive relationships in the workplace and loving relationships out of it, and not one poisoned by fear and retribution, but a culture based on equality, mutual respect, fairness, civility, trust and the Golden Rule. I am determined to play a positive role in helping us build such a culture.
I believe, indeed, I know, that most American men were raised to conduct themselves better than I did with Leeann, but I also know that we have work to do to before women can feel safe and respected in every facet of their lives. I believe am a better man today than I was, and I need to make certain that I will be better tomorrow than I am today.
The first step in that direction is admit that I was wrong, and that I am sincerely sorry.
That was only about 40 words longer than Al’s statement.
I would admire a public figure who was that honest, direct and contrite.
For Senator Franken, this was a great missed opportunity.