Contrary to popular perception, Al Franken did not resign yesterday.
He only announced his intent to resign on a future date. Here’s what he said:
[T]oday I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate. I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of...sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.
In fact, not only did Al Franken not resign yesterday, it is my prediction that he will never resign. He will not resign until Roy Moore does, and since there is no way Roy Moore is going to do that, there’s no way Al Franken is going to do that either.
This is the chief takeaway from Franken’s apology-less senate speech yesterday, a takeaway that most people have missed because they continually underestimate the capacity of swamp dwellers to deceive while appearing to tell the truth.
Al Franken said what he would do is resign “in the coming weeks.” That is a gloriously indefinite time frame. He can cram as much of the future into that phrase as he wants.
Immediately after Franken mentioned his resignation at some unknown, unspecified point in the future, he spoke of the “irony” that a president who has a “history...of sexual assault” sits serenely in the Oval Office while Roy Moore, a man who has “repeatedly preyed on young girls,” is still on the ballot in Alabama.
(My position on Roy Moore has been unmistakably clear from day one: there is not one single shred of actual evidence that he did anything he’s been accused of. The stories of his accusers completely unravel on closer examination. Moore rightfully should still be enjoying the presumption of innocence, and it is an absolute travesty that the members of his own party have pitched him off the boat with zero evidence of guilt. Shame on them. Shame. Shame. Shame.)
Franken’s point will be, look, there’s no way I should resign when two notorious sexual predators like Trump and Moore are alive and well in the Republican Party. In fact, they should resign, not me, since unlike them, I have always been a “champion of women.”
We likely won’t hear from Franken again until December 13, the day after the results of the Alabama senate race are known. What we will hear from Franken that day will be something like this: “I have offered, in good faith, to tender my resignation as a member of the United States Senate. Roy Moore, as a serial sexual predator, must do the same. In fact, I propose, as a gesture of nobility on my part, that Mr. Moore and I depart the Senate together. I will be happy to resign the same day Roy Moore does. Until then, I ain’t going anywhere.”
The Democrats, at that point, will be happy to say, “Hey, you know, Al’s got a point here,” and train all their fire on Moore and then Trump.
We have seen this charade before. In August 2007, Idaho Senator Larry Craig was busted for propositioning a Minneapolis law enforcement officer in an airport bathroom. I attended the senator’s widely broadcast news conference on September 1, in which he pointedly said, “It is my intent to resign” effective September 30. Well, September 30 came and went without a peep from the senator. In fact, he never did resign. His view was that he didn’t actually lie about it because it was his intent to resign when he said it. He just changed his mind. Craig served out his term and ever since has been collecting the extra $5000 a year in retirement benefits he got by stonewalling. “Intent” was his weasel word, just as “in the coming weeks” are Franken’s weasel words.
The GOP establishmentarians, with their shameful, craven, and traitorous abandonment of Moore, have played right into Franken’s hands. They’ve pretty much obligated themselves to try to run Moore off the cliff in order not to look like the duplicitous swamp dwellers they are.
Senator Franken should indeed resign and Moore should continue to stand tall and strong and unbending in the face of this manifest injustice. Abandoned in the hour of trial like his Master before him, Moore will have only God and the truth on his side. Fortunately for him, that’s all a man needs.