As Leah and Katie mentioned earlier, Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken is on an apology tour, groveling for forgiveness after four women have accused him of sexual misconduct and unwanted groping. His approval rating has taken a nosedive back home, so something must be done. He's "let a lot of people down," he averred in a brief press conference this afternoon, evincing contrition. But what, specifically, is Franken apologizing for? He's been quite explicit about his sorrow over groping a sleeping woman during a 2006 USO tour. Of course, he really has no choice on that front because there's photographic evidence of him mugging for the camera as his hands cover an unconscious Leann Tweeden's breasts. "I am ashamed of that photo," Franken said in a Sunday interview. "You know she didn't have any ability to consent. She had every right to feel violated by that photo."
Fair enough, but what about the other major element of Tweeden's accusation -- that Franken calculatingly and forcibly kissed her during a private rehearsal of a comedy sketch, and that he retaliated against her with public ridicule after she shut down his unwanted advances? He's "tremendously sorry" for all of that, too, even though he won't admit to doing any of it because he remembers the incident "differently:"
"On, uh, the kiss at the rehearsal -- we were rehearsing for a sketch -- I said that I recalled that differently from Leann. But I feel that you have to respect, um, women's experience."
Apologize for the undeniable bit, then deny the deniable part -- without really denying it or attacking the accuser. Meanwhile, what about the three additional women who say Franken grabbed their rear ends while they posed for photos with him? He's got an interesting explanation for that, too:
“I’ve met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I’m a warm person; I hug people. I’ve learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too many...Some women have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate, and I respect their feelings about that. I’ve thought a lot in recent days about how that could happen, and recognize that I need to be much more careful and sensitive in these situations."
He's just too "warm" and too much of a hugger, you see. He's basically saying that in the course of taking thousands of photos, his hands sometimes get jostled into accidentally touching women's backsides, and some of those women have found those "embraces" to be "inappropriate" and made them "feel badly," which he now "respects." But all three post-Tweeden women have been very clear about what he did: His hand was "wrapped tightly around my butt cheek," another named accuser told CNN, who relayed the story on social media shortly after it occurred in 2010. Another woman told the Huffington Post that Franken "grabbed my buttocks during a photo op," at an event honoring women, with a fourth woman (also quoted in the HuffPo story) saying he "cupped my butt." None of that sounds like incidental contact. None of that sounds like hands inadvertently brushing up against body parts in a "crowded and chaotic" situation. It sounds much more like a sitting Senator deliberately copping a feel or three, firmly grasping women's asses on purpose. Franken's parsed, baby-splitting approach to all of this is part of a delicate balancing act, described ably by Allahpundit:
Franken has two options here, ‘fessing up or claiming that the three women are lying. But both present big problems. If he confesses he’ll come under intense pressure to resign and will lose the respect of many Democrats (until his reelection campaign begins). If he accuses the women of lying he’s essentially deploying the “nuts and sluts” defense to misconduct, a cardinal sin of the #MeToo moment. He’s trapped so he’s forced to resort to some inane third possibility in which his hand accidentally made contact with women’s asses, possibly due to him being jostled by a third party out of frame, and all three women misinterpreted incidental contact as him having his hand “wrapped tightly around my butt cheek.” An actual quote from the clip below: “I take thousands and thousands of pictures, sometimes in crowded and chaotic situations.” That’s as feeble and unconvincing a defense as Anthony Weiner ever offered but this is the progressive needle Franken is forced to thread. Admitting wrongdoing is a nonstarter, blaming the women is a nonstarter, ergo it must have been an innocent mistake.
Right. He can't call the women liars -- the Clintons' 'slut-shaming' move is out of vogue on the Left these days -- but he can't flat-out confess that he was getting his jollies with some intentional, creepy ass-grabbage either -- so he's shooting the gap with the 'unfortunate misunderstanding and misinterpretation' line, emphasizing how much he values the feelings of the women whose allegations he definitely doesn't remember. Got it? I'll leave you with two subjects on which the celebrated liberal Senator declined to speculate today:
Franken won't speculate about what conduct would justify as resignation, and won't speculate about whether more women may come forward.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) November 27, 2017
Breathe in the accountability, America.