Pious liberals in showbiz and politics have long lectured conservatives on our alleged shortcomings, including sexism. But the new “speak out” culture has revealed that being a famous liberal scold doesn’t mean you don’t also have roaming hands and feet of clay. Now, they seem panicked that rules they championed for everyone else are being turned on them.
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken is the latest liberal to find himself under fire after former model-turned-radio host Leeann Tweeden accused him of sexual harassment during a USO tour in 2006. Tweeden claims Franken forcibly kissed her under the pretext of rehearsing a sketch he wrote. She also released a photo that he left for her, showing him grabbing her breasts and smiling at the camera when she was asleep on the plane.
Franken apologized and tried to pass the incident off as part of the irreverent “Saturday Night Live” comedy he did before he entered politics. Tweeden accepted his apology.
But Franken’s Democratic Senate colleagues aren’t being so forgiving. They lionized Ted Kennedy and just last year wanted to send Bill Clinton (to whom they gave a standing ovation after his failed impeachment vote) back to the White House. But now, in the midst of the MeToo wave, they publicly have to project zero tolerance for sexual harassers. They rejected Franken’s claim that the photo was clearly meant to be funny, said that comedy was no excuse, and are demanding an investigation by the Ethics Committee.
If there is such an investigation, it could get messy. Already, there’s a second allegation from another woman. Franken’s right, we all know that before he went into politics, he did a lot of things that he claimed were comedy but weren’t funny. But if this claim is true, his background as an unfunny comedian is really no excuse.