Goddamnit, Al Franken.
A second woman has accused Al Franken of inappropriate contact, this time while he was actually in office. Lindsay Menz told CNN that when Franken visited a booth sponsored by her father's business at the Minnesota state fair in 2010, two years after being elected to the Senate, Franken groped her while taking a photo with her:
When Franken walked in, Menz and her husband, who also spoke with CNN, said they recognized him right away. Menz said she had a brief and cordial exchange with the senator.
Then, as her husband held up her phone and got ready to snap a photo of the two of them, Franken "pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear," Menz said. "It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek."
"It wasn't around my waist. It wasn't around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt," she said, recalling that the brazen act lasted three or four seconds. "I was like, oh my God, what's happening."
Menz's husband, Jeremy Menz, confirmed that she had told him about the alleged groping immediately after it happened. He didn't see the what happened behind Franken and Ms. Menz while he was taking the picture:
He reached around her and kind of pulled her into him [...] He pulled her in and pushed his head against her head. It was over pretty quick.
Menz said that immediately after the picture, she walked away from Franken without saying anything to him, and then told her husband, "He totally grabbed my butt." Jeremy Menz confirmed that's what she'd said as well. Her father, who was inside the booth, didn't see the incident, but said that his daughter had told him about it immediately afterward.
Image screengrabbed from CNN video
When Menz posted the photo -- which doesn't show Franken or Menz much below the shoulders -- to Facebook, her sister made a comment about the two not being "a Bibles [sic] width apart," Menz replied, "Dude -- Al Franken TOTALLY molested me! Creeper!"
Menz contacted CNN Thursday, shortly after the news broke of the first accusation against Franken; Leeann Tweeden said Franken had kissed her without her consent while "rehearsing" a skit for a USO show, and also had discovered a photo of Franken leering and pretending to touch her breasts, with his hands hovering just above her body armor.
Franken said in a statement to CNN Sunday that he didn't recall the incident at all:
"I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don't remember taking this picture," Franken said. "I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected."
Pretending to grab a woman's breasts as she sleeps? That's not OKAY.
And now we're looking at a "pattern of behavior." It hardly matters that it's "not as bad as Roy Moore," because if that's the bar for decency, then even President Pussgrab is "better than Roy Moore" -- he's only accused of grabbing adults (and walking into the dressing rooms of adolescents at the Miss Teen America pageant). (Okay, not counting the teen-rape allegation, of course.) But the whole point of your apology Thursday -- the good second one, not the shitty first one -- was that even that hover-hands photo was a betrayal of what you say you believe in, and what you've actually worked for in the Senate. As Robyn said in her piece about you last week: "I am tired of these statements, whether they are good or not."
At this point, we're not sure we can believe in Al Franken anymore, and it feels stupid to believe in politicians anyway. Maybe the best thing Franken can do is take Kate Harding's advice -- which came before this new allegation: Don't resign, but announce he won't run in 2020, and spend his remaining time in the Senate listening to women and building support for a good woman candidate to replace him:
Then, when (okay, if, but like I said: I’m a realist) another Democratic politician’s sexual misconduct is revealed, we can ask the same of him. Don’t just apologize and drop out of sight. Do penance. Live the values you campaigned on. Be a selfless champion for women’s rights.
"Not as bad as Roy Moore" is not a good enough standard. We used to think "as good as Al Franken" might be, but that's not working anymore, either.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.