I'm gonna say something that is likely to get people upset with me, and I regret that. I often wish people wouldn't get upset, and they probably often wish I wouldn't say things.
First, I cannot lay claim to being a fan or follower of Al Franken's career over the course of years and years. I had a brief exposure to his work in 1979 (I think, but it might have been 1980), because one of the more vocal kids in the church youth group I was leading kept quoting the punch line from his skit about the decade belonging to him. Then I think I saw only one more skit where Jane Curtain gave him sulfuric acid to drink, because he was such an obnoxious dork.
And that was the character he played: obnoxious dork.
A few years later, I discovered another of his characters: Stuart Smalley. Stuart was a sweet and gentle dork, who was a participant in a 12 step program for many different addictions, all of which Stuart either had, or participated in in case he might have them later on. I only saw a few of those episodes, which were shown in the early 90's I believe, and what I recall best about them is that at the end, the gentle-spirited guy with the sweater would look in the mirror, and repeat "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."
Then, in 1995, I saw the movie "Stuart Saves His Family," along with about fifty other people worldwide. In the movie, Stuart has had his public access cable self-help show cancelled, and is called on to help his utterly messed-up family, each of whom is utterly immersed in their own particular addiction. Stuart, supported by his 12-step sponsors, is able to reach out to his family members, and fortunately for the integrity of the movie, some get better, and some don't.
I liked Stuart. I understood him. I understood the repellant-attraction relationship he had with his family. And, since I was pretty new to recovery myself, hearing the little snippets of recovery wisdom proclaimed was nice, even with the pratfall humor attached.
So, that sums up my experience with Al Franken, prior to his Senate race.
My next data bit came when he co-sponsored a bill with Republican Johnny Isakson, the senator from my state of Georgia, which made service dogs available for disabled veterans to adopt.
I looked it up: In Congress, he introduced an amendment that would deny government contracts to companies that did not permit employees to take workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination to court.
Itr is certainly true (there are pictures) which show him behaving like an obnoxious dork, pretending to sexually grope a sleeping woman. He's being a dork; that's consistent with his character.
He hasn't tried to excuse his behavior, and there really isn't an excuse; he was being a dork. But, at the time of this particular bit of dorkiness, he was on a USO tour, to bring comfort to US troops in a war zone. And I, personally, am gonna give him a pass on this one. Why? Because he was in character, and because he took full responsibility for his actions when the person offended called him out on it, and she accepted his apology, and because he and she were both in that place at that time in order to entertain our troops.
Other women have come forth to complain that he groped them in photo-ops; I have no read whatsoever on the accuracy and severity of those accusations.
I'm not defending his behavior as appropriate. I didn't think some of his other comedic stuff was appropriate. But, I believe this guy gets it; and I have heard NOTHING that leads me to believe that he has used his position as senator to take advantage of anyone, nor that he has demonstrated the profile of a systematic abuser.
It galls me that he doesn't have anyone defending him, particularly no one from the left.
If the voters of the state of Minnesota want to trash him because they don't think he represents what they want him to, let them do so. But despite the fact that he and I do not share the same ideology:
I believe Al is good enough, and smart enough, and enough people like him for him to remain a member of the senate
Please, Al, don't resign.
Peace be on your household.