When Our Allies Are Accused of Harassment

The case of Al Franken shows how painful and confusing it is when the #MeToo juggernaut comes for men we respect.

Comments: 237

  1. The question for me is rehabilitation. Franken cannot undo what he did. Even if he owns it better than others, it will always seems a bit short because, in the end, he pays no consequence. But let's say he resigns. Then what? Can he run later? What penance, if any, does he have to perform? He already has a solid record of supporting women, but that doesn't give him a pass now. And would any plan for an ally hold for someone who holds different principles? Consequences are essential as it freezes the problem, and Franken should resign. But progress will only happen when we figure out and agree on what steps a person needs to take to be part of the solution.

  2. I absolutely agree with this. We need to show that actions have consequences, especially in this moment. But it goes beyond that. We need to determine a way forward. Apologies are no longer enough.

  3. And what if the problem has already been frozen?

  4. I disagree. People can learn. Degrees matter.

  5. Time for a bit of biology. We are a sexual species. We are all controlled by our hormones. I'm not kidding. We are slaves to our body chemistry. The brain contains impulsive centers and rational centers. For example, when frightened, hormones immediately surge through us to prepare to fight or flee. Our rational centers then kick in and analyze whether this is a false alarm or not. If false, then our chemistry reverses and we calm down. The sexual response is similar. It is impulsive and powerful. The male is by nature the aggressor because he has to penetrate the female. The female selects the male by choosing who she lets penetrate her. The male, driven by the urge to reproduce pursues, and pursues and the female rejects and rejects to test the male's worthiness. Virtually all higher animals behave this way. It is universal. Such is the human condition. That's why men are pigs and women play hard to get. But we have this thing called civilization that gets in the way of our animal behaviors. We give people rights. The animal that lives inside us doesn't care about anyone's rights. It only seeks to satisfy its impulses. I have always felt that the feminist movement has rejected our biological heritage because women were often belittled during menstruation. We are just animals that can think and sometimes we don't think too well. If we could solve sexual abuse, we could prevent road rage, fighting and most violence. We can't do that either.

  6. "We are all controlled by our hormones. I'm not kidding. We are slaves to our body chemistry." ------- That's the easy way out. We are certainly influenced by hormones, but we are not slaves to body chemistry. Some people ARE able to exercise self-control, in spite of it all.

  7. I am a woman, a mother of two girls, and I consider myself a feminist. And I have similar thoughts and reasoning as you probably because I am also a biosciences professional. I loathe it when people forget that as a species we are as much animal as we are civilized, if not more. And I do not necessarily mean that in a nasty way, just in a sense of perspective, so no one acts in a holier than thou manner.

  8. Dear Bruce Rozenblit, I disagree, I am not "controlled" by my impulses, sexual or otherwise. Of course all humans have urges including sexual urges and many of them should not be put into actin. The mark of a civil society is that we all control our baser instincts. If we do not then chaos ensues. ISIS is a fine example of this.

  9. This discussion is so important, yet once it's in the political arena it comes back to Ms. Goldberg's point: Republicans automatically give themselves free passes because they don't care. They embrace their sociopathy, caring only about winning, and so. It seems, do their voters. What else can moral people do but say, repeatedly, to accused Republicans: please, after you. Resign? After you. Open an ethics investigation? After you.

  10. "Republicans automatically give themselves free passes because they don't care." Dagwood - don't you think just maybe you're over-generalizing a bit? After all, Mitch McConnell and the national Republican Party has been pretty tough on Roy Moore, wouldn't you say?

  11. We liberals are being played--by our own insistence on absolute moral impeccability in our leaders and candidates. Goldberg poses a dilemma: do we insist on purity of conduct in those men who work to protect our rights and thereby throw the baby out with the bathwater; or do we "lose the moral high ground" if we don't hold them to the strictest standards? I see no such dilemma. "Moral high ground" doesn't save affordable healthcare, protect and preserve the middle class, stop the rollback of civil and constitutional rights, keep religion out of government, move us back from the brink of nuclear war, remove a lunatic from power, reduce income inequality, protect the environment, or stop the "dismantling of the administrative state." How desirable is it to have moral high ground bragging rights if it deprives us of the power to enact that moral high ground into law?

  12. HurryHarry- the republican party doesn't want Moore because he wasn't their choice not because they're appalled or horrified by the sexual allegations leveled at Moore. The Whitehouse has stepped back their condemnation of Roy Moore. Conway has come forward saying that they need the republican vote in the Senate to support the tax bill and all of the trump agenda. If a serial child predator/pedophile has to be elected to enact the agenda, so be it. The few tepid protests are political theater, nothing more. They have demonstrated time and again that they have no moral compass. McConnell and the rest want to take access to health care away from millions of people. They have voted to destroy our environment, to cut taxes for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. Have embraced every destructive policy that trump has put forth. They continually lie to the American people. They have baldly and unabashedly stated that the tax bill has to pass or they will face the wrath of their corporate donors. I'm not seeing much of a display of integrity or morals.

  13. This is the column that should have been written last week. It would help if journalists and Opinion columnists avoid the rush to judgement. And really, get a grip. The sexual harassment in the Capitol is no different than sexual harassment in. The workplace where most of us work. The major difference is the celebrity. But the accusations, investigation and consequences should be the same. Accusations of improper sexual conduct require investigation. Most accusations have merit. Some don’t. The news media needs to decide whether to report accusations before investigation. The Washington Post, in its reporting of the Moore accusations, provides a good framework. Look for corroboration or some other means of authenticating the charges. The court of public opinion does not have the same evidentiary standards as criminal courts. But there should be an effort to investigate. And yes, there are levels of offense. Sexual pro quo, as in Weinstein, is unacceptable, as is sexual assault. Stalking young girls or boys is serious. Exposing one’s genitals is serious. Offensive pranks and jokes create a hostile environment and should be stopped. And while the media breathlessly reports new accusations against celebrities, the Offender-in-Chief laughs. One can’t help but think that the news media is once again being played. What news is not covered while tabloid sleeee is chased?

  14. "The sexual harassment in the Capitol is no different than sexual harassment in. The workplace where most of us work." Well, except that Congress uses a secret slush fund to pay off and silence the victims. Then, the predators of both parties run for reelection to prey on their next victims.

  15. An excellent post! Most disquieting is your last point, which is that the Groper in the White House is rarely mentioned, when he should be mentioned first and last.

  16. Like Michelle, I’m conflicted about Franken. I took a strong position that, while I’d love to see Al Franken go back to his failed eponymous radio show, I thought that this was an isolated instance of an attempt at humor that wasn’t funny and of bad judgment by a professional, politically-incorrect humorist before he ever ran for public office. I left myself the out that my position was premised on other women NOT lodging additional credible complaints, but I didn’t expect them. Now, it seems that a pattern of unacceptable behavior may be emerging on Franken’s part. And if there were two such incidents there may have been more. The key is that on one of them at least there appears to be incontrovertible evidence of inappropriate behavior, which he doesn’t contest; and other such claims, even without photographic proof, now will have weight. The question now becomes do his acts merit political destruction? Or similar acts by non-celebrities merit career destruction, as well? Well, if that were an easy answer to come up with we may have come to it centuries earlier. Michelle doesn’t really resolve her conflict: she asks questions. I’d still be willing, personally, to let Franken slide, although he’ll put up with attacks and jokes as long as he’s in public office. It’s unlikely that there were MANY such lapses. But I’d be willing to leave the matter, if he runs for re-election in 2020, to the voters of Minnesota. And that’s as far as I’VE gotten in resolving MY conflict.

  17. Here ya go. https://pagesix.com/2017/11/20/new-pics-show-al-franken-grabbing-arianna...

  18. @rtj: Did you read the article, particularly the quotes by Arianna Huffington? There's nothing there.

  19. NA and rtj: I could play Franken and pretend that I was Bill Maher as well, calling attention to Arianna's choice of husband and the likelihood that she was pleased to get any action at all; but I might have to reign as a consequence from the U.S. Senate. So ... I won't.

  20. Al Franken would be a loss but the idea that there are not more than a few well qualified women in the state of Minnesota who could replace him is ridiculous. If he stays at this point I fairly certain that he is mortally wounded as a politician although there are other ways that he could continue to make a contribution. Kate Harding's calculation is the same one made by the Clintons - and in retrospect probably a strong reason why some women didn't vote for Hillary, remembering her attack on her husband's accusers. Is it really the right equation to think that liberals shouldn't demand that men evolve into decent human beings because conversations won't? It is political calculation that was at least in part responsible for Weinstein being allowed to run amuck. This is going to be messy and men like Franken will suffer more than others who have done worse but the opportunity that is being presented to men and to women is not one we should muddy.

  21. If Franken is mortally wounded as a politician there is something horrendously wounded in our society. His record as a politician is what should decide whether he stays or leaves, and that record has been outstanding. I am not interested in his pranks or boorish rude behavior outside the Senate. I am interested in his votes and his contribution as a Senator. Those in his office state that he has created an excellent working atmosphere for his staff, so he has not abused his position of power to harass anyone. The Minn state fair charge seems very dubious. When I was being inappropriately touched, I always moved away, even if I chose not to make a big noisy fuss at the time. And I certainly did not have my picture taken with a huge smile on my face. I may be able to understand why the woman did not slap him, but why not move away or at least remove the offending hand, especially as her husband was standing right there.

  22. So Franken needs to resign and be replaced by a woman? That seems incredibly patronizing and sexist to me.

  23. There is absolutely NO evidence that Hillary Clinton attacked her husband's accusers. None. She never did. Why even liberals and Democrats insist of buying the actual "fake news" propaganda and lies put out by the right wing is beyond me. Democrats and liberals are their own worst enemy. Please go to Politifact (one of many sources) and see what they found on the question of accusations that Hillary Clinton attacked his accusers. (Heads up: they found no evidence of it). Franken apologized; his accuser accepted his apology. End of story. But please stop spreading untruths.

  24. Yes, we are faced with a conundrum when someone who legislates/advocates for women in general acts offensively toward specific women. The thing I am afraid of, though, is that Franken will be forced out, then as more and more Senators or Representatives are revealed as having engaged in groping or even worse, the consequences will be watered down and they will stay. We need a full investigation of ALL of Congress. I am hopeful that those who have been victims of harassment or assault will continue to come forward.

  25. There's a big difference between what Roy Moore (Republican), Charlie Rose (liberal, I guess) and Al Franken (Democrat/progressive) have done, and it's important that we keep this in perspective. Moore, Rose -- and of course Trump -- are all accused of attacking women and, in Moore's case, girls. Franken had a jokey photo in bad taste taken; he apologized and the woman in the picture said she forgives him. Even if we assume that he did indeed briefly put his hand on the other woman's rear, which is clearly wrong, it simply is nowhere near the same level of offense the other men are credibly accused of. What should be the criterion of behavior that requires a sitting politician to step down? While we don't have a satisfactory answer to that yet, we should not say that any touching or pretend touching warrants immediate ouster. Goldberg rightly has questioned herself and needs to do further introspection, I believe. This is coming from a woman who considers herself a feminist.

  26. It's absurd to think that we could afford to lose Senator Franken "since, with a Democratic governor in Minnesota, the party would maintain control of Franken’s seat." Franken is not merely a Democratic senator but one of the brightest and most effective members of the U.S. Senate. It's possible, but unlikely, that a replacement would be as good. Not all Democratic senators are created equal.

  27. Franken is also one of the most aggressive opponents of trump. The cynic in me believes that all of these accusations are staged to take the heat off the Russian investigation which gets closer to trump every day. The questioning of the suitability of trump's latest proposed cabinet choices and agency choices, like Brett Talley, a 36-year-old lawyer whom President Trump nominated for a lifetime federal judgeship, has practiced law for only three years and yet to try a case, the candidate to head NASA, Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma who is not a scientist and has no industry experience what-so-ever, his pick for a top environment post, Kathleen Hartnett White who believes "Carbon Dioxide Is 'The Gas of Life'". The tax bill "reform" that is a hit to the middle class, small businesses, college students, elderly and homeowners in mostly blue states and any other damaging proposals being promoted by the republicans in congress. Franken is a voice they want silenced and they have found the way to do it. Character assassination works quite well for the republicans. They are masters at swift boating and gas lighting and they know we hysterical democrats fall for it every time. Why are we so easily played? Why don't we ever learn?

  28. I agree. And Franken beat Norm Coleman by only 312 votes -- 41.99% to 41.98%. The next *election* could go to a Republican.

  29. Franken is a buffoon. And I say that as a Minnesotan and not someone writing from Mexico. He is basically a bad actor playing a “serious” senator. His hectoring, self righteous attitude and questioning on the judiciary committee make an interesting contrast to that lovely photo. He is tiresome. I love Amy Klobuchar but Franken is a (bad) joke.

  30. "But even as I made the case for resignation, I was relieved that it seemed as if Franken might stick around, because I adore him as a public figure. It’s easy to condemn morally worthless men like Trump; it’s much harder to figure out what should happen to men who make valuable political and cultural contributions, and whose alleged misdeeds fall far short of criminal." This a hard space to navigate. I understand the difficulty, but if you impose on a range of behavior the criminality or non-criminality of the behavior, you invite Trump and Moore to get a pass because of the presumption of innocence. You discourage men from admitting wrongdoing because it can be used against them in a criminal trial. My view at the moment is to ask yourself if Trump had no background of statements and allegations, but the Franken allegations were made against him, would you think he should resign. If the answer is no, then clearly Franken should not resign. We should not be influenced by how others behave. It is our ethics and morals that are at stake.

  31. For decades, partisans of all stripes have disingenuously applied impossibly high moral standards on politicians of the opposing party to score petty political victories, while unreasonably defending bad behavior by their own side to preserve their own base of politcal power. But politics has always (well, until recently) been about compromise. Everyone should vote their conscience, and sometimes those votes involve compromising one or another moral principle to achieve a greater moral good. I can't say that either the decades-old accusations against Judge Moore or the more recent, distasteful behavior of Al Franken are (under the circumstances) so completely disqualifying from office as to sway my vote (if I were a Minnesota or Alabama voter) if one or the others' presence in a closely divided Senate would sway the balance of power. Hopefully, moving forward, the current climate will help improve bad men's bad behavior and make women more likely to hold men to account when it happens, instead of waiting a decade (or two, or three or four) before throwing it out there before a close election. If Judge Moore had spent time in prison when he possibly should have, we wouldn't have to worry about it now. If Al Franken had been slapped, scolded and publicly shamed when his bad things happened, we might not have to worry about his Senate seat either. Hopefully in the future, we won't have as many of these guys to weed out.

  32. I agree with you. Much more thoughtful than, "Franken Must Go."

  33. "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." Scott Fitzgerald. Wow! This article really exhibits this quote. Congratulations to Michelle Goldberg for articulating both sides of a painfully hard dilemma with lots of humility and self-awareness thrown in. This is especially impressive given the widespread tendency to oversimplify and pontificate without nuance that I'm observing from both sides of this.

  34. It has been disheartening for me to see the public disclosures of sexual misconduct by men I have regarded highly, Al Franken and Charlie Rose as examples. Two principles guide me in evaluating these stories. One is that all transgressions are not equal: there is a continuum from less to more egregious: Franken is not on the level of Roy Moore, as Ms. Goldberg points out. Second is that behavior needs to be understood in context, that is the social norms of the time and place where the behavior took place. What we are seeing now may be, and I hope so, a change to a higher standard of respect for women and greater accountablilty. More people, men and women alike, are waking up to our complicity in the culture of female exploitation. Read Melvin Konner's book, Women After All, for a great discussion of patriarchy. its history and its remedies.

  35. Franken is not on the same level as Charlie Rose!

  36. Oscar Wilde was jailed for homosexuality. Were his contributions to theater, literature and wit any the less for it?

  37. That is the same argument made by supporters of our founding fathers with regard to slavery. I think there is merit in judging people by the standards of the time.

  38. The Kate Harding argument and Ms. Goldberg's temptation to buy into it reminds me of a line from "The Big Chill." Jeff Goldblum's character says "I don't know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They're more important than sex." I don't know whether Sen. Franken's offenses should require him to step down or not, but if he does step down, it will probably make it easier for Mitch McConnell to make an argument for not seating Roy Moore, if he's elected.

  39. Mitch McConnell has given us no reason whatsoever to trust him as he has changed our government to important decision making in secrecy by The Chose Few who happen to be only men.

  40. Even if Franken has to resign, there are voices of reason on both sides of the aisle that can work towards a bipartisan effort for bigger penalties/deterrents for sexual harassment. Something must also be done about the large cash settlements that protect abusers, both in the public and private sectors, and it is particularly obscene that taxpayers have paid $15 million to help politicians hide their transgressions. We're likely seeing just the tip of the iceberg in DC and if our lawmakers show a little backbone they can work together and make a difference regardless of party affiliation.

  41. I think Al Franken was right. Let the Senate Ethic Committee settle his case. Michelle Goldberg is also right. There is a big difference between Al Franken's conduct and that of Roy Moore. Or President Donald Trump, for that matter. Let the evidence come out; let decisions be made.

  42. You were right when you said Franken should resign. I was reluctant to believe that at first but you make a compelling case in your prior article and this one. In today’s climate he’ll be used by the right to defend the likes of Trump and Moore and their even more egregious behavior. Franken’s resignation will do more to advance things than all the votes he might still cast for equal pay or anything else in the Senate.

  43. Wappinne- the difference between the three is vast. If the allegations against Moore are true he belongs in jail. Child molesting is a crime. Pedophilia is a crime. If the rape accusations and the predation actions on his entering underage beauty pageant contestants against trump are true he belongs in jail. Both rape and again, pedophilia, are crimes. We need to have perspective. This is akin to the candy bar shoplifter getting the same jail sentence as the bank robber. The severity of the punishment needs to match the severity of the crime. Without those necessary distinctions we are a just a mob-rule society like any other banana republic.

  44. I thank Ms Goldberg for this honest assessment of the dilemma which now faces us progressive women. I, too, so admire and, yes, respect Senator Franken. I just recently read his biography; and in-between the laugh-out-loud humor I found a sensitive, deep thinking man who takes not only himself and his character seriously but also his service in the US Senate. His policies and causes are mine. His fight is my fight, for the health and welfare of the everyday American. But, alas, like all of mankind he is imperfect and is flawed. It is who we are. That's our nature. And so many of us on a daily basis struggle to transcend our inner failings. Yes, we need the Senator Franken's of this world, now more than ever. I do not know what will transpire. I do know that Mr. Franken's decision will be based on his love for his constituents and for his Democratic Party at large, us from other states. But I must say how unjust is this world when a just man like this Senator leaves us and an amoral, thrice-married, misogynistic narcissist continues to live and spew his venom from the Oval Office.

  45. That's a nice defense of situational morality. Unfortunately, it's still wrong.

  46. Hmm, so do you support the Title IX policies instituted by Obama admin that deny due process to college students accused of sexual assault? Because Al Franken does and demagogues about it, ironically. Even Harvard law professors are against those policies. The fact that progressives are willing to give him a pass and call him a decent man despite what he has shown to have done tells me everything I need to know about them.

  47. "His policies and causes are mine. His fight is my fight, for the health and welfare of the everyday American. But, alas, like all of mankind he is imperfect and is flawed. It is who we are. That's our nature. And so many of us on a daily basis struggle to transcend our inner failings. Yes, we need the Senator Franken's of this world, now more than ever. I do not know what will transpire." You do realize that (except for the name) this is exactly what Roy Moore's supporters are thinking and saying? Whose ox is gored is not, and never has been, the standard for whether conduct is moral or immoral. Turns out a lot of folks throwing stones live in glass penthouses. Charlie Rose has been one of my favorite and trusted news sources for 20 years. Behind the smiles and veneer of civility, there lurk a lot of creeps, in both parties, in all walks of life. When we adopt black-and-white standards, or revisit old conduct in light of newer standards, a lot of folks' behavior won't measure up. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, don't ya know?

  48. We should listen to all accusations, accept they might be true and then corroborate them, if possible. The immediate rush to judgment/assumption of guild is deeply troubling. Calling for Franken's resignation at this point is premature. Let the ethics committee do its job. Furthermore, we have people in Congress who have been sued for harassment. Doubt the lid will stay on those cases for much longer.

  49. Dear Michelle - I'm glad you had second thoughts. I thought your column on Clinton was brilliant and was disturbed by your column on Franken, which I thought lacked perspective. I entirely support the move to address sexual harassment in all its forms and think this is a watershed moment. And yet I worry that this will turn into the child sexual abuse scandals of the 1980s, when an increased awareness of the prevalence of abuse meant that any man who worked with children was suspected of being a pedophile, and too many were falsely accused and suffered great harm in the process. On the one hand, any form of unwanted intimacy is crossing the line. On the other, people (and by this I should really say, men) make mistakes and misunderstand. We are, quite literally, groping for new norms to govern relations among the many gender identities that human beings can embody. I, for one, am curious to see where it all sorts out in the end. Mark

  50. I just wonder what would be the reaction if one of these guys came forward and fessed up BEFORE someone exposes them instead of cowering in the shadows and just hoping they don't get exposed. Who has the guts and the courage to do that? Would we look at him differently?

  51. For whatever good Al Franken had doing for Minnesota and the country, it is time for him to go. He is a liability for Democrats. He will be vulnerable in his re-election, he will no longer be a prolific fundraiser and he just isn’t funny anymore. It all happened very fast, and maybe it’s unfair, but it would be much better for Democrats, if Mark Dayton appointed a fresh, new US Senator. Maybe someone a little more down home and little less Hollywood. If only Amy Klobuchar could be cloned.

  52. Franken has done some good things as a senator, and no one should be fired for an offensive, inappropriate joke from 11 years ago. But Democrats should not close ranks around politicians once there is a pattern of misbehavior, as it appears there is now. "They (the Republicans) do it too" simply is not a reason to look the other way from transgressions of those on the left. Most importantly, it shows a lack of ethics and character. But also it's bad politics in the long run. Now is the chance to become a party that can say "Franken had to resign while Moore got elected," instead of one that has to make excuses for a president who took advantage of his 22 year old intern.

  53. There is a mechanism in place for handling this issue with Senator Franken, the Senate Ethics Committee. So why not stop writing these op-eds, yes get rid of him, no, don't, well maybe or I'm not sure. It's beginning to wear me out. The ethics committee is made up of both parties and will likely come to a reasonable conclusion. So why not just let them do their job.

  54. Yes but the only person going before the ethics committee is Al Franken! Senator Franken has Admitted to and expressed remorse about his behavior unlike the Republican repetitive predators Donald Trump and Clarence Thomas.

  55. Dear Cherrylog754, I disagree. I think the op-eds should continue. What Mr. Franken did was wrong and he is getting precisely what he deserves in being publically shamed. That said, if this is the extent of his behavior, I expect though he may not be exonerated by the Senate Ethics Committee, they will be careful that any censure is even-handed. Not because they believe in justice, but they all must know of all the other skeletons in the closets of the Senate.

  56. Is this not becoming a bit like the Reign of Terror? Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Glenn Thrush. If he were still alive Ted Kennedy surely would be on the list. Where are the calls for Franklin to be taken off the $100 bill? Yet left standing and unscathed is Donald Trump, and probably Roy Moore. This is not to diminish the seriousness of the charges against any of these individuals. It is only to suggest that has the larger point been made and the focus now be on how to change corporate behavior? That will require steady non-headline grabbing efforts in countless places. My God we face truly existential challenges from Trump and the Republican Party. We already have enough chaos to put the future of American democracy in serious doubt. We seem truly be like lemmings at this point.

  57. If he were still alive Ted Kennedy surely would be on the list. Remind's me of KoKo's "list" song in the Mikado: "They'd none of them be missed, they'd none of them be missed!" Oops -- I forgot that The Mikado is considered politically incorrect these days. To quote Emily Latella: "Never mind."

  58. Ted Kennedy absolutely, positively belongs on that list . . .

  59. I think there's a problem with the "me too" movement if it goes too far. there's a way it may start to be viewed as being judge and jury and destroying individuals lives without a fair opportunity for them to defend themselves, which is often understandably difficult when these behaviors happened a long time ago. however, this rather quick destruction of individuals, may backfire, especially because sooner or later it may turn out that a mistake has in fact been made. or an increasing number of people on both sides of the political spectrum might start to view this movement as going a bit too far, or might start to lose the sympathy they have for this movement when they perceive it as a hounding movement that seems to have become a runaway train, which might hurt it as the pendulum swings the other way. the media seems to be partly driving this seemingly too fast, with monetary motives, as usual. every prominent name mentioned in accusations is the latest opportunity for clicks and "breaking news." but where is this leading?? the media may turn an otherwise good effort to combat such behavior against itself, by creating a backlash as an increasing number of the public start to think this has started to get out of hand. there needs to be some semblance of organization and reason here, and not seemingly random hounding and shaming and destruction of individuals's lives. i am worried this otherwise good motive is starting to get hijacked by the destruction of individuals lives

  60. Franken should stay. He is not a serial molester as Moore seems to be. There has to be a line drawn somewhere in the sand that distinguishes between the two. As far as we know the second statement about the picture could have been made up. There is no evidence concerning Franken. Innocent until proven guilty! How does one go about finding proof of such events. For Moore there where multiple accusations from various women that had the same M.O. It is hear say evidence but caries some weight. Moore also had other problems as a judge that makes him undesirable for the Senate. Franken on the other hand has been a very good Senator.

  61. Same thing was said about Bill Cosby and his accusers. But then they just kept coming. With more than 50 women raped or harassed he still walked free. Why? Because he's old? Because his show was so good? Where is your line? Instead of arguing innocent until proven guilty maybe ask with more persistence, "Who else has been too scared to say anything?"

  62. In response to Ms. Goldberg's first column, I wrote a comment listing six reasons I thought Senator Franken should not resign. One was that Franken's transgression happened in the world of showbiz, where standards of conduct are not the same as for those who hold elected office. Now that a second, in my opinion, credible accuser of Senator Franken has come forward, I have changed my mind, largely because the unacceptable conduct came after Franken had been elected Senator. It's a great shame. I was seriously thinking that Franken would make a good candidate to run in 2020 against Trump or whatever other reprobate is put forward by the Republicans. Obviously that can't happen. I would like nothing better than for Franken to categorically deny the latest accusation, and for that accusation to be proved false. I don't think either will happen. In my opinion, Franken must step down.

  63. A female friend said: "If that's the worst treatment from a man she has ever had done to her, she should consider herself fortunate." Condemning the act but calling for proportionality in punishment preserves the moral high ground.

  64. "conservatives, unburdened by the pretense of caring about gender equality" The sentence is three words too long: "about gender equality." Conservatives don't care unless they specifically and personally get hurt.

  65. There is another way to look at this: selfishly. What do we gain, what do we lose by kicking Al Franken out of the senate for acts which at worst are de minimis when compared with the voluminous accusations against the sitting (slouching?) President and the very lovely so-called-Judge Moore. My answer is that if Franken were expelled, our loss would dwarf our gain.

  66. Ms. Goldberg, No one's life is perfectly blameless. As I wrote you last week, Sen. Franken is a better presidential candidate than any other emerging so far.

  67. At what point does "taking the moral high ground" become "encouraging blackmail"?

  68. Give me a break. There is not one of us who has not committed an offensive behavior. That does not make me a predator or a bad person. Only human.

  69. Perhaps it is best to resolve political issues at the ballot box and sexual assault accusations in the jury box. Americans elected Bill Clinton president despite rape and sexual assault allegations stemming from his days as governor of Arkansas because they wanted to put a Democrat rather than a Republican in the White House. Alabamans may vote for Roy Moore despite 40-year-old allegations of sexual abuse of a minor because they want to put a Republican rather than a Democrat to the Senate. Alabama’s statute of limitations does not apply to the sexual abuse of minors under age 16. So, the woman who alleges Moore sexually abused her when she was 14 can still file a complaint. Alabama could still indict Moore if it decides the allegation are true, even if the woman doesn’t want to file a complaint. If Moore is elected and the allegations are subsequently proven true, the Senate could vote to expel Moore or Alabama could vote to recall him.

  70. This sounds like an apology for coming out so strongly against Al Franken. I hope this period of hysteria will soon pass, because few men in any important position will sit down in private and speak with young men or young women with professional aspiration regardless of how qualified they are. May be for a change, those of us who are plainer looker, or are approaching retirement age will have a better shot of getting those jobs that usually went to the young and good looking candidates.

  71. What, exactly, IS the "moral high ground"? Michelle's not the only person conflicted. Couple this with whether facts are proven or if they're unsupported allegations, and it's clear the need for fairness, balance, common sense and avoidance of bias outweigh some nebulous "standard" or the need to "drain the swamp" of abusers (no matter who goes down the drain). Historically, we have elected (mostly) men whose shortcomings vary wildly. Many politicians have had affairs, have acted as some would find inappropriate. Perhaps in fairness, voters should decide whom to elect, whether Moore, Franken, Trump or next in line. "Standards" vary. What A finds annoying/harassing, B might not feel the same. There is no absolute regarding sexual harassment because of its complexity and range of variables. Politicians are elected to govern. Being outed for misconduct can be positive. Franken & others would surely avoid potential future problems with the public spotlight on them. I was disappointed by Michelle's earlier piece because she chose to abandon fairness in order to make a political and supposedly moral point. I found her point to be unethical. Perfection is for angels. People are made to make mistakes. We're to learn from them. A surgeon saves your life: do you care about his/her sex life? How would accusers want to be treated, shoe on other foot? Are one's allegations truly so serious a person's career and reputation should be ruined? Fairness or witch hunts? Think before you leap.

  72. Dear Doug Giebel, I disagree. Standards really do not vary. I have worked for a number of different companies and all of them have an orientation and/or workshop on work place harassment. The standard in everyone of those workshops is "Do not touch anyone unless they invite you to." Apparently, none of the jokers accused in these pages have ever attended such a workshop or just supposed such rules did not apply to them.

  73. Are we holding the institutions and their leaders accountable for allowing this to happen? The employers, the schools, the churches, the government entities...they all have handsomely paid people in charge with oversight authority and responsibility to assure their institutional environments are free from this kind of behavior. Some sick and abusive people will always be present in an institutional environment, and all the perpetrators reported to someone. It is the leaders responsibility to know what is happening in the organization and prevent this behavior. Are they paying attention? Do they suspect what is happening and just look the other way? Do they condone immoral and illegal behavior to protect revenue streams or avoid scandalous publicity? Why have the people in charge allowed people to behave like this and threaten others in many cases for years? Are they complicit? Why have they not been replaced with people who will do their jobs responsibly?‬ Should they not be held accountable legally? The crisis is not that people behave badly. The crisis is that leadership won’t immediately confront and remove those that do.

  74. "This isn’t because progressive institutions are more sexist than others — I’m confident there’s at least as much sexual abuse in finance as in publishing." But that's exactly how all this will be used by the those are a far worse threat to women. Franken's should not be forgotten, but we have to grow up and admit that people are not good or bad on a simple, one dimensional scale. What we have learned that Franken, an admirable man in many ways, is not admirable man in every way. Who is? If we can't stand together with people unless they are faultless paragons of ideological and behavioral virtue, we are lost. We have to accept that human beings are complex creatures. We ought not to let any person's faults swallow up or eclipse their virtues, nor let anyone's virtue's lead us to ignore or discount their faults. We have to look at the whole person, virtues and faults together, and consider in what areas we can co-operate with them, and in what areas we must oppose them. The questions with representatives are, (1) Knowing all the truth about them, are they more or less likely to do the job we want them to do than whoever the alternative would be? And (2) How much will the truth about them interfere with their ability to do their job? And I'm not sure they are really different questions. If Franken resigned, who would replace him? Would his constituents or the country be better off?

  75. Good to see michelle goldberg's more nuanced rethinking of the issue.

  76. Right now it seems as if where in a "no woman's land" of immoral equivalence" when it comes to the Washington political elite and sexual harassment. Too many like Alabama Republican Governor, Kay Ivey, are making a political calculation over a moral one. It's OK to have a pedophile in the Senate if he's voting the way I want. This is what is troubling here and in the liberal Democratic community which I also identify with. If Democrats are going to make the same calculation as Republicans, then we all have to stop talking about Bill Clinton, Al Franken, Roy Moore, and Donald Trump. I find this lack of morality or it's imMoore-ality unacceptable, We must draw the line. In my view we need to recognize that just about every other outed sexual offender (see the list of 30 in today's Times) has either been fired or resigned with the singular exception of the elite political class. Why should they who we elect and assume will protect us instead be allowed to protect themselves? If women and men who have been victimized by sexual misconduct see that there is no justice, no "rule of law," no consequences, then what do we have left of our democracy? We must place morality above political party and partisanship and say "No" to any and all sexual misbehavior. We cannot have a "double standard" where politicians are above the law. As much as I join you in admiring Al Franken, your original conclusion was right. He must bear the consequences of his imperfection and resign.

  77. That consequence for Franken, forced resignation, is not proportional to the offense, particularly when considered in the context that he was acting as a comedian when it happened. It was juvenile, dumb and offensive, but it does not qualify as a career ending offense. And if it does, and he is forced out, just wait and watch the GOP weaponize the me too moment against the left.

  78. Amen. If we are going to change the culture, and we must, there cannot be cover for perpetrators, even the much admired Rose and Franken. Predatory and harassing behavior must end and it cannot end if we add political calculations to the mix. My hope is by acting to purge the abusers, we will have the moral high ground, change behaviors and hopefully be rewarded politically for doing so.

  79. He has already borne the consequences. But the consequences for his boorish behavior should not be resigning the Senate. Totally disproportionate to the offense. You do not send someone to the execution squad for spilling a cup of tea.

  80. I believe distinctions need to be made between criminal behavior (Roy Moore as a pedophilic stalker) and offensive behavior (Al Franken). Context matters as well - behavior we see now as unacceptable was, and unfortunately, still is, the norm in much of the world for most of the past. Al Franken should not be held to a higher standard and penalized for far lesser injuries. Taking ownership and apologizing should count. It concerns me that the Republican response is that bad behavior not admitted remains acceptable. Yes, in our system of justice one is, or should be, considered innocent until proven otherwise - but we have Trump’s admitted braggadocio along with multiple law suits. Roy Moore had a known reputation for questionable behavior. Simply denying wrong doing should not enable offenders to get a pass.

  81. I appreciate this column, and I think that taking sexual harassment seriously requires discernment in the credibility of the accusation and the severity of the accusation. Falling over oneself to give credit to every accusation and to treat each as equally deserving of the extreme punishment is the opposite of being serious...it's without mooring in ethics or justice or common sense to equate every situation. There's no upside in ignoring proportionality and evidence, and no search for justice is going to conclude well when it begins so badly.

  82. Welp, that about sums up my internal dilemma. I guess what bothers me the most is that Franken, as the only person who could have grappled with this dilemma as a potential vs. actual one, failed to do so, leaving the grappling to his female supporters. If he were a true champion of women he would have refrained from this behavior, and not only because the harm it caused the actual victims but also because sexual misconduct by a sitting senator would surely undermine both he and and his party's ability to do their jobs. You could make the case that this was not obvious to men in power in the pre-Weinstein era, but what a depressing case it is to make.

  83. What actual "harm" was done to the victims? I refer to real harm, not a feeling of discomfort, embarrassment or irritation. Is there a right to be free from feeling "uncomfortable," of being irritated, of having things happen to us that we don't much like? Is everything disliked that happens to us "harm"? Was professional nude model Leeann Tweeden really "harmed" by Franken's alleged behavior? Was the fair goer whose husband stood right in front of her when Franken allegedly touched her backside(we can't know the true extent of what he's accused of having done) really "harm"? I guess a permanent bruise would be a kind of harm. But if every man who ever touched a woman's fanny were to lose his job, there'd be a big employment problem the nation might find harmful. Not to condone fanny patting. I believe I'm qualified to ask these questions. During my long life I have been groped by both men and women whom I had no romantic or sexual interest in pursuing. Were I to out them, denounce them publicly, shame them and cause them to lose reputation and employment, I would never and could never forgive myself. There's some value in fairness, in treating others as one would wish to be treated, even if they don't reciprocate. Even if they meant no harm. We may be asked to do unto others. We are not given the right demand they do as we would do. Michelle's honesty in writing this column is admirable. We could all benefit from introspection, from questioning impulses and beliefs.

  84. As a member of the Green Party I am disappointed by Michelle's column and by Kate Harding's from the other day as well. To quote a a very apt phrase for the capital, "Drain the swamp". We feminists of the Green Party will no longer stand for any of this hanky panky by our national leaders. They must go. We must elect leaders who will treat all women with respect and dignity. They must not use their powerful positions to prey on women and to treat them as sexual playthings. Another thing, our "ally" Senator Franken supported the war in Iraq. War is indeed a feminist issue and no longer will we stand by quietly while our sisters are killed all in the name of war.

  85. Since the voters of the Green Party have some share of the responsibility for the ascendance to power of the Groper-in-Chief, I would question their moral authority to call for draining the swamp that they helped to water. I am also made suspicious by this writer arrogating to herself the flag of all feminists and prescribing behavior for all. Finally, it is telling (and leads me to suspect that there is some trolling involved here) that it isn't just "our sisters" who die in war and that there are some wars that must be fought (Iraq and Vietnam not among them, BTW). Misandry is not the most reasonable or even effective response to misogyny.

  86. Absolutely not ! Franken was on Air America radio station and he was as much against the Iraq war as all the others talk show hosts.

  87. I'm sorry, would this be the same Green Party that elected Donald Trump? Thank you so much for that!

  88. One cost of defending Franken -- or even tolerating him -- is that no Democrat or liberal will ever be able to attack a Republican on the same grounds. We can say all we want that Franken is different from Moore or Bill Clinton is different from Trump -- and we will be correct -- but as a matter of practical politics we will have given up a powerful weapon against Moore and Trump and no doubt others. Any Democratic attack on a Republican for sexual misconduct will be ignored or derided. That cost must be weighed against the unfairness -- the alleged unfairness -- of dumping Franken.

  89. Donald Trump is president of the United States. Roy Moore has been endorsed by the Republican party in Alabama and the state's governor. Just how powerful have these weapons been in attacks on sexual misconduct by Republicans? Ultimately, it's up to voters to weigh evidence and decide on a candidate's fitness. They don't always make the right choice, as far as many of us are concerned, but what's the alternative?

  90. John Plotz, you are right and wrong, but the wrong outweighs the right. Democratic attacks on republicans for sexual misconduct are ignored and are derided. Trump is exhibit "A." Dumping Franken will in no way, shape or form influence a single core republican to hold another republican accountable for his or her actions. Not one.

  91. Not true. There is a vast difference and that difference matters. Especially to women and to mothers with children, whom they want to protect from predators. It is not subtle. Republicans do not care about their own transgressions, and there is no weapon against the hypocrisy of the religious right, or against the denial of Republicans. Throwing ourselves under the bus is not going to help anyone. Practical politics? I am laughing bitterly. You are not on the right side of this.

  92. If, say, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, or Rand Paul were accused of the same things Al Franken has been accused of, I wouldn't expect many fair-minded people would beat the drums for their resignations. Regardless of party affiliation, that course of action seems way over the top. (And, in the case of the second Franken accuser, something just seems off.). Ultimately, it should be up to their respective constituents to decide whether or not they should go. On the other hand, if what has been reported is true, Charlie Rose should be banished to the darkest corner of the media equivalent of Siberia. Steve Bannon called Rose a limousine liberal, and the "economic nationalist" is probably right. Still, there's no reasonable defense in Rose's case.

  93. It's difficult to be consistent about an issue like sexual harassment because it is so widespread it has been practiced by so many types of men (and, yes, women). But keep in mind that even the most heinous sexual abusers, like some of those in the clergy abuse cases, had redeeming qualities and were contributors to their communities. The fact that Franken's alleged harassment was less heinous, and the fact that he did good work, does not give him a pass. Each person needs to be held accountable for the behavior, regardless of the characterological context for that behavior. If a really decent person shoplifts, the act of shoplifting is not changed. Same with Franken who, one must begin to acknowledge, is really not as decent, it would seem, as was assumed based on his political efforts. He appears to have been a skilled liberal who is also a gross letch. He can be acknowledged for his work, but he still must pay fully for his misdeeds.

  94. Michelle, I so admire your struggle with the issue as you lay it out before us, we can sort it out by listening to each other. Readers responses to your last column were the subject of a weekly gathering here and most helpful to everyone trying so hard to weed through the complaints knowing more will come. Keep sharing the debate!

  95. I misjudged you. an utterly poetic, nakedly earnest self-examination of the core issue confronting women in this cultural crucible of a moment. well done.

  96. I disagreed with the columnist's call for Al Franken's resignation. His offences are hardly equivalent to those of Roy Moore and he is taking responsiblity and apologizing. Instead, Ms Goldberg might want to remind us of the past testimony of the women who are accusing Donald Trump of sexual harrassment and then interview them about how they are feeling that they have still not been taken seriously by our political establishment. Now there is a perpetrator that I would agree needs to resign.

  97. "It’s possible that feminists, in trying to hold Democrats to standards that they wish were universal, risk unilateral disarmament." It's not only possible, it's pretty well certain. Today I head someone put it really well, something to the effect that each party is treating the other side's sex problems as terrible while condoning their own. It's easier to punish sex issues in men (or women) in entertainment or business. Far more difficult in politics which hits closer to home. But since we can't rank outed politicians by the level of their transgressions on a scale from 1 (butt patting) to 10 (pedophilia), Democrats have to decide what battles they are willing to fight, since Republicans just don't care. But one thing is clear: unless both parties extract the same consequences from their respective offenders, women, as usual, will be the losers. That said, you can't fight a battle if you're the only one on the field.

  98. Why should kitty grabbing and breast fondling be a democrat or republican problem? It is a male problem, universally. Perhaps that is one reason Arab countries keep their women behind dark black long robes and veils in the oppressive heat, so no shape nor size is visible and no male is tempted by it. Head slap. Boys are given a pass by their moms, they watch their uncles and dads and imitate them; wives are given a pass by their husbands, and in some cultures women willingly scheme and participate in bride burnings, so on. In front of the wakeful world, 276 school girls were kidnapped by boko haram, raped en masse, subject to atrocities, a few returned forever scarred. Every household ought to teach its boys lessons in decency, it doesn't matter what religion, tribe, ethnicity, nationality, political leaning..

  99. Ms. Goldberg's quick-draw position on Franken has persuaded me that she is a person whose opinion is not to be taken seriously. There is plenty of context to be suspicious of the charges against Franken, especially the first one, but that of course cannot be discussed. But the key problem is the one reflected in this very column: distinctions are the essence of moral and political judgment; if everything is a capital political or career crime then soon enough nothing will be.

  100. I feel the opposite - I prefer the judgment of people who are willing to reconsider past opinions and share their reasoning, as opposed to people who think their first thought is always perfect.

  101. I'm a feminist, a liberal and a woman who was sexually assaulted by an older man at 12, I find it shocking and appalling that my fellow liberals would ever mention Al Franken in the same breath as Roy Moore. Even assuming the accusations against Franken to be true - a pat on the butt and a man three times my age assaulting me are two entirely different things. SO, first I implore people like you, Ms. Goldberg, to stop conflating the two. Stop conflating the devastating effects of molestation and assault to minor "offenses" - quotes as they are not criminal. Second - let us feminists step up and use our voices to have a real discussion about the rules of engagement here. Can we stop reacting to everything for one second and start clearly stating what is and isn't harrassment. Because this current standard leaves any misunderstanding, misplacement of hand and for our children growing up in a digital age - where everything is filmed - the high likelihood that a moment in time will be captured on film, long forgotten and then two decades later with no or revised context come back to haunt them. This is an impossible and gross standard. I can defend Al Franken (assuming the tush grab is false). I could defend Roy Moore - if I felt his accusers lied. I still defend Bill Clinton. Not every woman who speaks tells the truth and not every man lies.

  102. You had me all the way to the point where you said you still defend Bill Clinton. Are you ok with his taking advantage of a 20 year old subordinate? Are you forgiving that he looked us all in the eye and said "I did not have sex ...." Do you believe every other woman, including those he settled with, were lying? If Rex Tillerson did with a female subordinate what Clinton did with Lewinsky, then was caught lying with DNA evidence, would you defend him? On what grounds?

  103. Agree with everything you say, except the part about defending Bill Clinton. His flaws go well beyond being a serial philanderer. He was literally sleeping on his job.

  104. Progressives are not allowed to 'stop reacting to everything for one second' because the never-ending tsunami of self righteous outrage must be fed every second.

  105. What profound column.

  106. Of course Franken should not go. Have we lost our balance or ability to discern differences between things. Frankem's so called groping looked like a comedy sketch gone a little too far. His accuser is a right wing talk host whose swings from liberal to conservative seem a little nutty as her playboy posing. He is not a rapist. Do I believe the pinch sorry when her husband was standing by? And so, what, even it was pinch? Is that rape or public masturbation? Are we going to a Salem Witch hunt led by feminists gone mad? Let the punishment fit the crime. Accuse those who have done something really serious. The Franken accusations look like kinderspiel.

  107. The account I read never said “pinch”, just “placed his hand...”. I have serious doubt about this one having happe

  108. Could you tell us what you think of Clinton's behavior. What about the woman the lion of the senate left to drown in a ditch. Who else stands even close in the muck of perversion of those two. By the way, Franken's behavior may have been relatively benign. But is nevertheless character revealing. As are his writings of what he'd like to do to Leslie Stahl. There's no place in the Senate for a sick high school clown.

  109. There's a certain Puritanism at work here. Yes Al Franken shouldn't squeeze butts or joke about squeezing tits. But was this woman really scarred by this incident? It doesn't come close to what happened to the girls Roy Moore molested. It's like the zero tolerance policy that was so in vogue in schools and resulted in kids being expelled for acts that were not that serious. As adults and citizens we should be able to say this action is different from that action. Demonizing those who can help thousands and thousands of women with good policy may make us feel virtuous for a bit. But ultimately it hurts more than it helps.

  110. You refer to girls Roy Moore molested? Do you have evidence? Has he been convicted in court? Or are you convicting him because you find him creepy and reactionary and because of that you are willing to accept the word of his accusers? I find the bible thumping, gun waving Moore unfit for office. I find the accusations credible. But neither is sufficient to convict. Lest you forget, there was a sordid time not too far in the past when lynchings and burnings were justified on equally scant evidence.

  111. I’m glad you’re rethinking your last piece about Franken. It was defined by extremism, religious zeal, gender obsession, and ideological purity. You’re back here to where you initially seemed to be at the beginning of the prior piece; moving away from the mistakes those living in an ideological bubble made in the last election cycle. We're already seeing the "overreach" and "backlash" you initially said you feared. However, your mistake in the last piece was in invoking the need for collective purity on the political left: "It’s not worth it. The question isn’t about what’s fair to Franken, but what’s fair to the rest of us." This civil rights lawyer learned long ago how often the left is obsessed with being seen as principled yet has no qualms about ignoring both basic fairness and the basic rights of individuals. It is pious nonsense, and ultimately self-defeating. Let me give you some advice; stop waffling and take a stand. Decide whether you’re going to adhere to something approaching a legal standard which treats allegations of pedophilia, rape, and sexual assault profoundly differently than inappropriate behavior. By the way, I’ve lost count of how many times in my twenties, at events like weddings, older women who I didn't know came up to me, asked me to dance, or to be in a picture with them, and put a hand (or hands) on my rear (I’m totally serious). I was surprised, but I never thought they should be destroyed, and they certainly don’t belong in hell with Roy Moore.

  112. There was a story in the NYT about how the NYC board of education was trying to fire a teacher who had put his arm around the waist of a female student. Then the teacher's lawyer found a photo of the Chancellor, Joel Klein, with his arm around the waist of a female student in exactly the same position. The arbitrator said that, with that photo, he had to rule for the teacher.

  113. Seriously we have been at war for 16+ years and this many people have no idea what a USO show is all about?! Please people look them up online,YT has a lot of them look up the one Ms Tweeden and Franken were in, 2006 Afghanistan "I just want you boys to know what you are fighting for..." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SR9TSxp_okc Follow some of the other vids on this page.

  114. Finally a balanced opinion. While I would be the last one to justify sexual harassment at work, I am getting increasingly uncomfortable with the rush to judgment in the media, and the conflation if different kinds of sexual misbehavior. An off-color joke is not the same thing as rape. A slap on the butt is not the same thing as pedophilia. Women are human beings, not angels, and just as capable of slander, faulty recollection, malicious exaggeration and outright lying as men. We should believe victims but only if we know that they are indeed victims.

  115. Isn't it ironic that the liberal icons of Hollywood, the media and Washington DC have turned out to be the biggest pigs when it comes to treating women as cattle? I am not shocked. They are all hypocrytes and deserve to have their careers ruined for their disgusting behavior. Bill Clinton is the chief among them and his wife the chief enabler. They are both done...toast.

  116. Let us not forget the Lion of the Senate - Ted Kennedy. He actually had to leave a woman in his car to drown overnight before Democrats accepted that he couldn’t be President. Allowed to stay in the Senate, of course , because of his “good works”. Was that the level of “not serious enough to call for a resignation” that the Franken defenders have in mind?

  117. Isn’t it something that right of center thought has no appreciation for the element of nuance? All crimes, by others, are punishable by transportation or hanging. Meanwhile, as long as your hero is swinging an ax for “family values” it matters not about their own character. It falls into an old NY Times crossword quip: nothing needs changing so much as other people’s bad habits.

  118. It has nothing at all to do with liberal or conservative. It has to do with men. Not all men, but enough men in every single walk of life who behave like pigs and have enjoyed a long history of "oh well, boys will be boys." That history is now ending. Get used to it and hope they have no reason to come for you.

  119. The point is - Franken can easily say that the female stranger claiming he groped her butt while a photo was taken is lying since he's never done such a thing. So why doesn't he say it?

  120. The question contains the answer.

  121. Because it’s beneath him.

  122. Putting your hand, on someone's butt (in front of the woman's husband). Oh yea, equal to the real sexual predator's actions. If people can't discern between bad judgements and sexual predators, the Donald Trumps, and Harvey Weinsteins of the world just won.

  123. "real sexual predator". Name a specific act of one of your "real sexual predators". Show us an 8x10 glossy of them in action.. Franken is petty boor. The real sexual predators have had the power to coerce women into unwanted and humiliating behavior, and into silence. The two all pro standouts in this category for the last quarter of the century are not conservatives. But lets give them some credit. As far as we know, neither Clinton nor Weinstein left one of their marks to drown in a ditch.

  124. So it's okay to treat a woman like a toy so long as her husband is watching? Are you serious?

  125. I am not at all conflicted about Al Franken. Beyond one stupid and sexist photo where he isn't actually touching anyone, his accuser's account of what happened is quite questionable given photos that surfaced this weekend. The second allegation is odd as well. The woman says she had just been groped, but she's really smiling. I think that this is a Republican hit job. Oh, and Roger Stone tweeted about the initial allegations before they became news. How did he know ahead of time? And why hasn't Tweeden been asked this on any one of the myriad of talk shows that she has appeared on? She says that she does not want an investigation. I wouldn't want to be cross-examined if I were her either. If Republicans are successful in forcing out one of their most effective opponents, Franken will not be the last. This was clearly done to help Roy Moore get elected.

  126. @Mary, I couldn’t agree more. I’m also not buying this false equivalency regarding Franken. While the Dems are far from perfect, this is the party of Lee Atwater’s Willie Horton, swift boating of Kerry and smearing of triple amputee Max Cleland. I put nothing past them.

  127. The press is complicit in an unjust lynching, particularly Michelle Goldberg.

  128. There are descending circles of hell. And there are degrees of cannibalism. There is the concept of limited perception of the truth. There is the good being the enemy of the perfect. And there is the closet, which we all possess, with skeletons hanging away from public sight. If you put it all in a blender and hit the button it will look like sausage. What we really need to do is weigh each circumstance with the wisdom of Solomon and hope we don’t do more harm than good.

  129. @Hank Schiffman: Right. I was first of a mind that Franken should quit, but have changed my opinion. On the scale of such things his transgression is sophomoric rather than calculating à la Moore, trump, Weinstein and Rose. It suits trump very well to "put it all in a blender and hit the button [so that] it will look like sausage." The more men who emerge looking like trump the better he likes it, as he becomes but one character in a "Where's Waldo" picture.

  130. When it comes to the Frankin story, there are more details. Contrary to Tweeden's story, he didn't write the skit so he could kiss her. That wording was the point of the skit and he performed it years before with a different actress. The punch line to the skit is that Tweeden goes out and randomly kisses a soldier in the audience by surprise! At the same show she is filmed gropping male singer's buttocks and wrapping her leg around Robin Williams as she kisses him. Again it looks uninvited but could be part of the show. Who knows?

  131. There are so few men of that generation who are truly innocent of harassment it may be impossible to find and elect them. Meantime, we stay with those who are truly sorry and elect those who came of age at a wiser time. Watch Bill Gates tell Trevor Noah that Time magazine used to show men patting women's butts in their ads. It was the norm. We have moved on, and good men are sorry. So, we can't fire all of them. iIt's merely luck the rest haven't yet been caught.

  132. People, can we PLEASE get a sense of proportion. One kiss that was rather too enthusiastic, one fanny pat, and one posed photograph where it is obvious that Franken is not touching a woman in body armor: this is not a crime against humanity. This is rudeness and stupidity; but it is not holding anyone’s career hostage and it is not rape. In fact, I don’t even like Franken or his brand of humor. But to throw out a valuable ally of progressive causes for such minor offenses is counterproductive, to say the least. And it would make us feminists look really, REALLY stupid.

  133. Thank you! There is a HUGE difference between Spacey, Weinstein, CK, Rose, and Senator Franken, like coercion, serial predation, luring women into hotel rooms etc, enablers, Mosad going after women who came forward, and corrupt lawyers who unleashed their dogs on these women. Having power over their careers, violence, throwing the whole system at you so you're petrified to come forward. If women can't begin to get a sense of perspective on this issue, it's going to become something less serious than it should be. This is very, very serious and we need to pursue true predators and people who assault women without any fear of consequence. We need to also go after a system that is so rotten that it not only protected these men, but in some ways encouraged them. We need to go after not only the sexual acts this men inflicted on women, but their violent temperaments that held everyone who worked for them hostage. But this is starting to degrade into a circus, which is really sad for women. A lost opportunity to truly right a grievous wrong. Senator Franken can help us and stand with us. He acted like a jerk, not a sexual predator. And examine the character of the alleged predator who accused him.

  134. We have been there before when feminists got Packwood, one of our strongest supporters in the Senate, not only of women's rights but abortion rights, thrown out. And Packwood was Republican.

  135. I couldn't agree more. Franken has a comedy career built on childish, high-school-level humor (the "placenta Helper" sketch, anyone? Look it up), and I used to love it. But when he turned his attention to public discourse, ran for Wellstone's old Senate seat, and hunkered down for a term of sober, intensive study of serious issues, a new person emerged. I look on that stupid photo as a shot of the old comedian (who feels someone up when there's a photographer there, and smiles for the camera when he does it?) doing what old comedians did. Clowning. With that in mind, we on the left have to be mindful of eating each other in the midst of this whirlwind of allegations, while a serial harrasser sits in the White House. How stupid to we have to prove ourselves? comedians

  136. Honestly all these accounts have Franken largely silent at the time of the offenses. Unaware I think that these people were offended at the time. Outside of the inappropriateness of the kiss the rest is subject to opinion as to whether they happened at at. The photo was a dumb goof that virtually every man has done or seen done.

  137. WHERE IS TRUMP ON THESE LISTS? IN THESE EDITORIALS? IN THESE DENUNCIATIONS THAT RESULT IN FIRING, RESIGNATION, AND OR APOLOGY? I'm sorry. I'm shouting. But these are completely dysfunctional articles: There are seven or eight of them on the New York Times site now. Where is Trump in that list of men who have been accused of misdeeds? https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/10/us/men-accused-sexual-mis... WHAT ABOUT BEFORE WEINSTEIN? Or does that simply not matter? We have a sexual predator in the White House, and he needs to be ON THESE LISTS.

  138. @Concerned Mother, Innocent people don't admit they're guilty. Why Franken doesn't say that the second woman's accusation is a lie?

  139. Seriously, there haven’t been enough anti-trump editorials and op-Ed’s?

  140. The sexual predator-in-chief is enabled and protected by a political party that is comfortable with his various exploits -- political, financial, sexual, you name it. I only long to see the day America's women wake up and smell the stench of what Republicans have wrought.

  141. All of the women are victims and all of the man are predators?

  142. Thank you. I was more than a bit peeved over your " Resign, now" call. NO one is perfect. There is a vast chasm between juvenile, lame humor and an " alleged" child molester. Or, a self-admitted "kitty" grabber. Sure, Senator Franken may resign, IF he chooses. But First, I want to see that obscene, doddering poseur in the Oval Office resign. Or in prison. That's his choice, also.

  143. Show us the shots of Trump hovering perversely over a sleeping woman. Show us writings or even recordings of Trump discussing drugging and raping a well recognized female. Hey I'm not even asking the hard questions. How about describing the lingering death Mary Jo suffered while the so called lion of the Senate was hiding out in a motel trying to sober up before calling the police. Democrats have no claim to moral high ground. None.

  144. This is a better column than your previous columns Michelle IMO. Here are some thoughts. 1-Most men are not predators. It is a small group. It is just that they are serial abusers and sooner or later abuse most women. 2-Yes people co depend and enable predators but these people are as likely to be female as male. 3-There are varying degrees of harassment and punishment should fit the crime. Patting a women on the rear is different from raping a woman. 4-Predators can be liberal or conservative. 5-Predators higher up are more likely to be protected. 6-Alleged predators lower on the food chain are more likely to get fired if only accused with no evidence. And last but no least, the elephant in the room that no NY Times reporter wants to write about including you when the woman not only does not report the abuse but goes along with it until the promotions stop or starts the sexual activity..(ie sleeps her way to the top) or is in a position of power and harasses a man.

  145. I'm 73 and I challenge the statement that most men are not predators. Our society gives men permission from a very early age to prey on women. Boys will be boys. It's an exceptional man who can resist the temptation. There's even an element of locker-room culture that admires the predation. Of course the dominant males get away with it. Women who want to get ahead may be expected to "play the game." Many women have been required to refrain from challenging predation. That you would see this as "sleeping her way to the top" demonstrates how powerful this has been in our society. Women are just not expected to be too powerful and a powerful woman can be seen as abnormal. (See Hillary Clinton for an example of how that can work.) The "alleged predators" lower on the food chain may be more likely to get fired. They may also be more likely to be accused simply because they are less powerful. It doesn't seem to stop the behavior. It's quite true that predators can be "liberal" or "conservative." Those labels have nothing to do with attitudes toward women that have been learned from childhood. One of the ways "conservatives" respond is to accuse the victims as does Paul in Brooklyn.

  146. What is your evidence that "alleged predators lower on the food chain are more likely to get fired if only accused with no evidence"? A close friend was fired for drawing attention to the fact that her employer - a professional workplace - was legally liable for not addressing the hostile working conditions that the "locker room talk" in the office was creating. **She was fired.** She was given the choice of an NDA and severance or nothing. She sought legal counsel and could not get a lawyer to take on the case because the standard for winning a hostile work environment suit is currently so high that most labor lawyers will only take the most severe cases. She had inadvertently but pretty thoroughly documented the office climate through emails and texts to friends and had documented her complaints to management via email bbc'ed to friends (always do this, bbc yourself if you don't want to send it to someone else because should you lose your job, the 1st step is to lock you out of your work email). It wasn't for lack of evidence that the lawyers declined. That's the problem - (primarily) men at all levels face no consequences, not economic, not social, for this sort of behavior. Every single woman that you know has some story of dealing with clearly unwanted and inappropriate sexual aggression in the workplace. And almost none of them have had any means of addressing it let alone seen someone fired for that sort of behavior.

  147. Spot on. Indignation is highly selective.

  148. No one is irreplaceable. It's not my decision whether Franken stays or goes, that's up to the good people of Minnesota. But i have to say that i won't be sorry to see him take a dive. Or at least put the kibosh on any talk of him as a presidential contender. Quick anecdote - back in the 80's I was waiting tables at a place that occasionally did SNL afterparties. Franken (and another cast member) were dripping with contempt and condescesion toward the staff. (I hasten to add that there was nothing even remotely sexual.) When he was elected to the Senate, all i could think of was, this is the guy who is suppposed to be a great liberal hope and champion of the working classes? Not interested in talk if they don't walk the walk. Bye Felicia.

  149. The closest I ever came to Al Franken was hearing him on a local radio show during a book promotion tour. He came across just as you describe, extremely rude and condescending. I usually don't get it when I hear Republicans blindly criticize "elitism", but I understood that day. The guy was a jerk.

  150. Franken more than walks the walk. What in god's name are you talking about?

  151. Rick - Exactly. I have my bias now, i think he's a flaming jerk. That probably won't change. It's of no import, i'm not a resident of Minnesota. Just don't count on my vote if he ever shows up top of my ballot. If you treat poor working slobs (or sleeping co-workers, or potential constituents) like garbage when the cameras are off, somehow i'm not inclined to trust you when they're on.

  152. If you are going to use Republicans and Conservatives as yardsticks or dumb things down to Allies and Enemies on how to gage sexual harassment than women are doomed.

  153. Franken's transgression against Ms Tweeden was a tastless prank, not molestation. Does anyone believe Ms Tweeden slept through having her breasts groped.

  154. If you sleep through having your breast groped - which wasn't happening - you are either drugged or it must be a pretty routine event!

  155. Do we know her breasts were actually groped? Did she really feel it through the Kevlar? I doubt it.

  156. True, but the harassment results from him sending the picture out to her colleagues. Still , The public nature of what he did may imply some level of debate in his mind about his actions as he if he outed his behavior himself . I can’t be the only guy who has been goosed And thought it was funny. I worry that we’re just going to make the world more sterile at a time when it seems ever more difficult to make human connections .

  157. Focus on Trump ! ! He is the dominant menace to our values, our country, our planet.

  158. Thanks so much for having the courage to rethink your original about about Franken. We need that kind of thoughtfulness now more than ever. These are difficult questions and our first reactions are not always going to be just and accurate. Thank you again for acknowledging this.

  159. We now have definitive proof that Ms Goldberg is a Democrat. Unlike Republicans she is able to reflect on an earlier position and consider that she may initially have been wrong. Republicans never admit to making a mistake.

  160. Yes indeed. Ms Goldberg proves her mettle with this column.

  161. I've been groped. I know exactly how it feels. The difference between my groper and Al Franken? Mine actually touched me! And I grimaced and yelled in horror. Look at the photo of the first accuser. Franken's outspread hands are inches away from her chest. And she is wearing a flack jacket! How about his second accuser? She is smiling, not grimacing. Happily standing close, not reflexively pulling away. It's past time to get past the false equivalence that got Trump elected ("He's grabbed women's crotches." "Oh, but her e-mails!). Republicans and their trolls are trying to push Franken out of politics for two reasons: They recognize a serious contender for President and they're desperate to deflect our rage away from Trump & Moore.

  162. What a well-reasoned thoughtful argument. Thanks for injecting some sanity into this debate. The GOP has been doing this for years now; anytime they see a tough political opponent their smear team goes into overdrive and tries to ruin them; re the GOP and right wing movement response to The Jersey Girls, women who earned the right to be heard the hard way, yet were castigated as publicity hounds who were, according to Ann Coulter, enjoying the way their husband's deaths had given them fame and celebrity. Ugh.

  163. Well stated. He did a low-rent schoolboy ‘gag shot’ of the All-Star Hooters, Playboy nude, darling of large breasts. And gave her the camera and photo as a souvenir of their 2 weeks of USO shows. Ever see clips of Bob Hope with JANE Mansfield or Dorethy Lamour and MARILYN Maxwell. Leering, crude remarks, and the troops howled and cheered. Our culture of wolf-whistles and cheesecake being condoned by the USO was once okay. Good-natured if crude fun. And you could see and feel when lines were crossed. Awareness and acceptance of this has changed. So, if men’s behavior isn’t criminal, as smarmy as it can be, lasts not destroy lives and careers that contribute to our society.

  164. You're still hung up on the missplaced verbs of the past tense :"grabbed women's crotches". Trump never said he did any such thing, and neither has any of his faux accusers. He bragged to Billy bush that when you're a star in Hollywood, you "could" grab them by the....which apparently many other men did. But Trump did not. Unless you have pictures like Franken's. Grabbed is past tense, something that has happend, "Could" is the conditional, something that "could" happen. But why be outside your group think and be confronted with inconvenient truth.

  165. Charlie Rose? Now there is one of the best reporters in the business. I will seriously miss him. What's to do.

  166. He had good people on his show, which was was presented soberly and without commercials. Very high class production values. But I always felt that he was just a sounding board. He never challenged anyone's answers or tried to go very deep.

  167. This begs the question, why should WE suffer for THEIR bad behavior. As with Peter Jennings, Charlie Roses coverage will be sorely missed.

  168. But there's the rub. He did some really offensive things. And it does seem that over the past few days the women who were the victims of predators like Mr. Rose, have been forgotten. Charlie Rose needs to go because he used his powerful position to lure women into his little trap. You don't have some people working at the office and then separate out the young women and ask them to work at your home. And you never, ever appear for work in an open bathrobe, which exposes your naked body. He used his position to get free sex with women who were his underlings. So did Weinstein, so did Spacey, so did Roy Moore, and even Louis CK who lured women to his room even though he "only" (Ha!) masturbated in front of them. These practices went on for years and apparently none of these men thought twice about getting caught, or even of the harm they were inflicting on women. They disgust me. Not so with Sen. Franken and Glen Thrush. No trap, no lure, no abuse of power, and, as far as I know, they are not serial offenders. This country still sees women as second class citizens - it's in the zeitgeist. That's why all those books had to be written and marches and lawsuits. There's residual damage to all our psyches. Men, even the most enlightened and decent ones, don't always get it. Neither do we always get it, which is clear because we're trying now to tear down in minute a system that took millennia to build. We need to be careful not to ensare good men like Thrush and Franken.

  169. At this point in time, it seems that the path to rehabilitation for these disgraced fellows is non existent. What are they supposed to do the rest of their lives after they resign or are indefinitely suspended? Clearly, there are some who would prefer that their talents not go down the drain, even though their reputations have. With the thousands of channels available on the internet, perhaps there can be a "Disgraced Men's Channel". It could feature news and political commentary from Franken and Rose, and dramas starring Kevin Spacey, produced by Harvey Weinstein. It would allow an outlet for their talents, while providing the public the transparent knowledge that these are highly flawed people. And for those who find themselves unable to detect sarcasm in the written word (I am sometimes in this group), this post is with my tongue firmly in my own cheek.

  170. The case of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle comes to mind: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roscoe_Arbuckle he did find work as a film director under the names "William Goodrich" and "Will B. Goode" ... and might have found further rehabilitation had he not died at age 46.

  171. I think it would be helpful to get legalistic and start by asking, Did the person do something that was against the law (and within the statue of limitations)? Apparently yes for Moore. Therefore he should be prosecuted and disqualified for holding office. Apparently not for Franken. So Franken should stay. (And if you think what Franken did should be against the law when it isn't, *change the law.* Franken still gets off, but the next one doesn't.) In the reporting about Thrush (the NYT reporter now on leave) I have yet to see on what basis the NYT has suspended him. As I understand it, Thrush is accused of misbehavior before he worked for the NYT. Is the US really so devoid of employee rights that your employer can suspend you for something you did before you started working for them? Is the NYT using some blanket question at the interview or in the contract, "Did you ever do anything that was wrong?", which Thrush incorrectly replied to? If it is this kind of blanket clause which the NYT is using to suspend Thrush, shouldn't this kind of employer behavior - by a powerful corporation - be restricted? In this context Goldberg's argument is then surely no longer valid. Just because X does good things for women, if X broke the law, then X should suffer the consequences. America says it has the rule of law. Maybe it should, I don't know, start trying?

  172. While the NYT didn't mention this as their reason for suspending Thrush, as an employer, I would be worried about creating a hostile work environment for my female employees if I didn't insist that the alleged harasser get help or be fired. If Thrush's accusers are to be believed, he not only made inappropriate sexual advances, he quite deliberately set up one of his victor scorn when he, behind her back, accused her of sexually harassing him, with the result that it hurt her career.

  173. Well, technical question -- many claim that "the statute of limitations has expired" on Moore's offenses ... I can find no such statute in Alabama law for sexual offenses against minors. What are the facts on this issue? Independent of that, no prosecution has started, none of his accusers has demanded it, and I find it entirely understandable that a prosecutor might use discretion to avoid doing so, hesitating because the case would be vulnerable, and because even if true, Moore ceased doing it a long time ago. Now were I voting, would I accept "no prosecution" as "free-pass, good to go?" No way! The fact that somebody got away with something is not an argument to me that I can support them. And this must also apply to Franken, though I do not see any "equality" in the two. When somebody wants my vote all sorts of considerations come to me and there are many reasons I can justifiably refuse to vote for somebody that do not involve "they broke the law."

  174. Did the person do something that was against the law (and within the statue of limitations)? Apparently yes for Moore. Moore's accusers are from ages ago. Which are with in the statue of limitations?

  175. Ms. Goldberg, I wish you'd had this thoughtful ponder before reflexively joining the false equivalency parade loudly and publicly.

  176. Working Mama- "Ms. Goldberg, I wish you'd had this thoughtful ponder before reflexively joining the false equivalency parade loudly and publicly." Exactly. It's going to be awfully hard to put this genie back in the bottle. We're counseled to never make decisions in anger. Maybe Ms. goldberg should have reflected on this incident a bit before she wrote such a character damaging editorial. Should women always be believed? As a woman and mother of 4 daughters I have to say no. Vindictiveness is not just a trait of men. Exaggeration, lying for personal gain or for 15 minutes of fame, for attention are not just a traits of men. New video has come forward of Tweeden grabbing Robin Williams with a leg hug and a grab on his butt. Video of her shaking her butt at a guitarist while performing at a USO tour. Obviously she is a very "free- spirited" woman who doesn't seem offended by sexual innuendo or "rowdiness". She's the fun girl at the party. Good for her to be so uninhibited. But how do we distinguish what Al Franken did from what she has participated in? These videos make her accusations much more suspect. As for the second accuser- if she was so appalled and disgusted by Franken's actions why is she smiling so enthusiastically? I've had photos taken where men dropped their hands a little to close to my butt. I've just nudged their hand up. They have all moved their hands. No big deal. Equating Franken with Moore is extremely dangerous if the allegations against Moore are true.

  177. Ms. Goldberg, thank you for well defining this ethical dilemma. You have brought a powerful perspective. Appreciate your wisdom on this.

  178. Though I expect my opinion will not be a popular one, I feel a need to help Ms. Goldberg relieve her ambivalence and confusion by pointing to a tellingly analogous incident that occurred during the recent Democratic presidential primary: As Bernie Sanders’ campaign really began making huge strides, he was endorsed by 2 prominent younger Black writers/journalists , Michelle Alexander and Ta-Nehisi Coates. And, much like now, The we’re subjected to blistering attacks from esteemed members of the Black Establishment that were neither factual or fair, leading Coates at least to publicly change his mind for the sake of the “greater cause”. The result was that the battle against Bernie was won, but the war against Trump and the GOP was shamefully and decisively lost.

  179. I am glad you revisited this. I looked at the Franken picture and it appeared he was "fake grabbing" her - as his hands hovered close, but no on, her breasts. Also, can we all about that she was wearing a flak jacket or body armor?? What exactly can you feel through that, even if you do tic it which he does not appear to do. There is a world of complexity and a world of difference between actual groping, predation on the less powerful, and a joke photo op. The look on Franken's face is that of a jokester not a person forceful receiving sexual gratification.

  180. I agree with your comments, but in today’s political arena, and now with a second accuser, does that still matter? I too feel torn. Al Franken is a great senator. I’d hate to lose him.

  181. #weknowthedifference

  182. This issue of whether his hands were on or near her breast or whether or not she could feel anything awake or asleep is immaterial. He appropriated her body in order to humiliate her - that was the purpose of the "joke" - to humiliate her. There is nothing comedic about (faux-)grabbing breasts of someone without their permission. We're not "not getting" the joke, we have been trained to brush off obvious acts meant to humiliate others as jokes so people can do it and get away with it. And if the butt of the joke doesn't "get it," particularly when the butt of the joke is of lower status than the joke teller, it isn't a good joke and probably isn't a joke at all. That the joke was hinged on photographing it (no context to make this something other than a groping) and the photo was distributed was salt to the wound.

  183. I defended Franken at first, in part because his accuser is a frequent guest on Hannity and a conservative Republican. I suspected that he was being set up because he seems like such a good guy and has been a great spokesman for the Democratic Party. But since the second accusation and Franken's terse response, I'm beginning to question my earlier stance. Bottom line, I am at sea. Before women started outing famous predators en masse, one could ignore the rumors about Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy because in a general sense they were Democratic Party standard bearers, they stood for good government, helping those who who've been left behind and all those things we lefties hold dear. Now that the floodgates are open and we are confronted with behavior that is both inexplicable and deeply disturbing, we are caught in a dilemma, to ignore the truth or demand that they resign? Or is there a middle ground?

  184. On the other hand... women should not have to put up with the kind of egregious behavior of a Charlie Rose or Harvey Weinstein in the workplace. And let's not forget the outrageous treatment of women at Uber, where the entire company culture was hostile to women.

  185. Maybe there is a distinction to be made between those who abuse their positions of relative power and those who are guilty of everyday boorishness.

  186. And now. . .Charlie Rose. The loss of him in my daily life seems very personal and profound.

  187. What is more harmful--posing for a stupid photo with an exaggerated leer and fake "grope" or calling for the resignation of the man who posed for the photo? Should we call for your resignation, Ms Goldberg? What about the editors who plaster the front page with stories about Franken touching someone's butt 10 years ago while the accuser is grinning and her husband is taking their photos? Can we ask them to resign? Is potentially destroying the career of a man almost universally praised by women, a strong ally in the fight for equality, a powerful and appealing Democrat when we need all we can get, worse than posing for that photo?

  188. It should be added that 14 of Franken's female aides are strongly supportive of him. The first incident is documented photographically, the second is suspect in my opinion.

  189. There are still many liberals and Democrats calling for Franken to resign. At the risk of making a ‘two wrongs make a right’ argument, I don’t see why Franken should resign when Trump was elected after the Access Hollywood tape, calling his accusers liars and threatening to sue them. Huckabee Sanders has the gall to compare Trump to Franken with a strong implication that Trump is innocent and Franken guilty because Trump didn’t admit to the allegations! So a possible lie is now truth according to the WH! This cannot stand! We have been playing by a different set of rules than Trump for years and it is not working. If Franken resigns without letting the Senate investigation play out we lose the opportunity to hear from both sides when one side isn’t a blanket denial. Imagine that!

  190. You are right . Democrats have this horrible tendency to eat their own while repubs stand by their man no matter what. The results are obvious and horrifying.

  191. Franken is not a sexual predator. Predators avoid cameras like the plague. He is an intelligent, compassionate and savvy legislator. An independent thinker. Would that we had more like him in Washington DC. Believe he wants the investigation to take place. My bet is that he can make clear that the acccusation is politically motivated and that the picture was and is a prank. If he actually made contact with her I believe she would have awakened and reacted at that time.

  192. True. I do not wish Franken to resign despite his future possibilities in protecting women's rights while the GOP welcomes Moore and Trump. Expediency matters. I do not want a GOP replacement who will vote the party line rather than Franken's usefulness and thoughtfulness as a Senator. Sure, there are plenty of women who could replace him appointed by the governor---but elected? Maybe not so many and given the bills put forth by this GOP Congress -- they are wrecking our country wholesale, not just the women.

  193. I can guarantee you had Franken's conduct been engaged in by an evil Republican (Cruz, Ryan, Hatch, etc.), the comments would not be so forgiving. This is all about identity politics and is the reason why nothing ever changes. We hold those we dislike to certain behavior while excusing those we like. It is partly human nature and partly hypocrisy. Of course the "false equivalencies" argument takes center stage. "Franken's conduct was nothing like Moore's or Trump's and they both remain on the public stage." So in the end the Republicans (or those we detest) define the limits of bad behavior. As long as our favored allies don't cross the line of sexual deviancy portrayed by the opposition, they should remain in power. Now go and teach that lesson of sexual behavior to our sons.

  194. Who is talking about “forgiving”? This is a prefect example of a straw man argument. Surely you are not suggesting that all types of sexual assault and harassment should receive the exact same treatment. If you are making that suggestion, then women will be the only ones remaining in Congress, the White House, state and local government, schools, churches, and businesses.

  195. The standard for forgiving the "good men" seems to be: well Trump and Moore did way worse. If our daughters complain that they were sexually assaulted by a good democrat, I guess we should tell them: well Trump did worse Because sexual harassment is being judged through a political lens, it will continue. Ms. Goldberg just made a persuasive argument for protecting the "good men" after they assault women. It is obvious that by forgiving Al Franken and Bill Clinton, the Left is choosing politics over the women they assaulted. Is feminism about protecting women or politics? How many women will be sacrificed for the greater good?

  196. No one is talking about forgiving sexual improprieties.

  197. Bill Clinton was impeached. You cannot equate apples and oranges, and if acknowledging that gross kiss is equated with Trump or more, incevagain Dems have caved. When all actions are taken into account evenly easy answers will obtain. Right now denying is winning and with that we are losing.

  198. ...and what greater good would that be, he asked, sitting on the smoldering rubble of the republic?

  199. As a liberal and as a reader who respects Ms. Goldberg’s thoughtful columns, the reticence about withdrawing support for Sen. Franken because he has progressive views is in fact not much different than Republicans in Alabama weighing whether or not to withdraw support for Ray Moore for political reasons. One can argue that Moore’s inappropriate actions were certainly much worse, particularly because he acted against teens, but Franken’s taking liberties among adult and unsuspecting women is awful in its own right. Furthermore, his completely inadequate and self serving responses indicate, along with the other recent men outed, that he really doesn’t “get it”. This suggests that along with the other recent cases that there may be more than two women whose space he has violated.

  200. Nonsense wrapped around a kernel of truth. The kernel is that politics should not determine the response to allegations of impropriety, sexuall or otherwise. We are getting into “Alice in Wonderland” territory here, where the Red Queen pronounces sentence first and then has the trial. Franken has admitted to improper and offensive conduct with regards to the photo with Ms. Treegarden. The second woman made an allegation, which Franken, can’t recall. Making decisions and pronouncements on the assumption that more women will come forth is at best jumping the gun. The woman who was the victim of the forced kiss and photo has accepted Franken’s apology and noted that she didn’t think he should resign. But you have decided that his apology was completely inadequate and self-serving. Really? Often the rush to judgment produces manifestly unfair results. PS My assumption is that anyone who starts off saying “I am a .....” usually isn’t. But then I could be wrong.

  201. It's exactly the same, isn't it?

  202. Another factor for the Republicans is that there is a high probability that the accusations against Moore are fabricated. He has been in public life for thirty years, a highly opinionated man, and the allegations of actions taken 30 years ago are only now being made?

  203. My problem was with Hillary Clinton's support for the Iraq war http://progressive.org/op-eds/clinton-s-iraq-war-vote-still-appalls/ . The Iraq war cost between 150,000 and 650,000 Iraqi lives, and (if you don't care about Iraqi lives) 4,500 American lives. The war was clearly based on lies. And yet I voted for Hillary Clinton (although it took Bernie Sanders to convince me). Have a sense of proportion. There is no comparison between the horrendous consequences of the Iraq war, and the sexual horseplay of Al Franken. Franken is an effective politician who is not easily replaced. He beat Norm Coleman by only 312 votes. Minnesota elections are close. The next elected Senator could be a Republican. These are dangerous times. The Republicans could pack the Supreme Court for a lifetime. If I can set aside Hillary Clinton's flaws, you should be able to set aside Al Franken's flaws.

  204. At last a thoughtful article on the Franken case! A pity, though, we even think of it as a "case" rather as a insignificant gross moment among fellow comedians (the kiss) followed by a silly joke (the picture). Al Franken has clearly become a target and I'm not sure he'll survive the onslaught of the hypocrites allied with the self-righteous. I even wonder if he'll want to survive it. But thank you, Ms. Goldberg, for this moment of sanity!

  205. "I’m confident there’s at least as much sexual abuse in finance as in publishing". I have worked in finance most of my life and I have never experienced this level of depravity. Not that financiers are boyscouts, but this is the usual "everybody does it" defense. First make sexism a political weapon, then when it backfires, the sanctimonious people want us to believe it is normal behavior.

  206. Over the past week I’ve thought a lot about every encounter I’ve ever had with a woman. I don’t recall any interaction that would be considered harassment. However in this climate I’m not sure that someone might concoct a story. I’m retired but if I were working I would have a new set of rules. 1 Any meeting with a woman in my office would be with the door open and at least one other person in attendance. 2. Any meeting that the woman subordinate wanted to talk about some private matter and insisted on a close door I would send them to HR. 3 No touching at all not even a handshake. 4 No fraternizing after work, drinks even with a mixed group. 5 No lunch or dinner meetings with women. The Pence Rule

  207. The existential dilemma, regardless of the topic or crisis du jour, is how can the Democrats, the party of conscience, continue to have any influence or do any good for this nation and its citizens, when the Republicans, the party of no conscience, continues its wrack and ruin of all that is decent and good? The Democrats by and large own up to responsibility for their actions, in Franken's case calling for an investigation into his own behavior. The Republicans, evidenced by the president's press secretary and her blatant statement the other day, deny, deny, deny, which they evidently consider the same as proof of no wrongdoing. It's simply astounding. It's like we're all living down the rabbit hole.

  208. This Opinion demonstrates that political power corrupts. Goldberg's values have been undermined by her strong partisan beliefs. She is a half step from the mantra of all despots that "The Ends Justify the Means".

  209. Michelle Goldberg's saving grace is that she takes predictable positions . . . but then reconsiders them. I personally think that sort of Truth and Reconciliation Commission a la South Africa, including some kind of amnesty in return for an admission of guilt and having to confront the accusers, would work better than the current system. As she suggests, the results are essentially random now, ruining a lot of lives and not really addressing the problem. It can't go on forever like that.

  210. If Ms. Goldberg gets to decide who is to be punished for harassment based on her affinity with the offender, then so do others -- Judge Aaron Persky, for example. Judge Persky was a Stanford graduate and a star of the lacrosse team. He felt affinity for a Stanford student and outstanding swimmer for the Stanford swim team. He observed that strict punishment would serve no purpose and so he sentenced Brock Turner to 6 months for rape. Women at Stanford rejected the lenient affinity-based sentence and immediately demanded the recall of the Judge.

  211. Specific to Sen. Franken, one should consider that a thing can be both true and contrived at the same time. It is somewhat too on the nose that these accusations (charges) should fall on a popular progressive who eviscerates the Attorney General every time he comes before his senatorial committee, conveniently in a period where the accuser is held beyond questioning as to her accuracy, recollection, and/or greater motives. Sen Franken acknowledges the truth of the matter of "kiss" and the hacky picture, among a troop of clowns on a road show, but he cannot offer context; he just can't.

  212. This is a much more thoughtful column than the first one on Franken. Liberals, feminists, et al. have a tendency toward ideological purity that makes my teeth hurt sometimes. We can, and should, be better than that. More thoughtful, more careful in our responses, and less predictable in our willingness to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. I like Al Franken, but I would not be willing to defend him against credible charges of abuse. These two incidents fail to meet that standard and Roger Stone's involvement with the first one makes it seem mighty fishy to me. The second one seems flaky too, but let's wait and see what comes of that, or whether there are other, more credible accusers waiting in the wings. I certainly hope not, but I am willing to withhold judgement until we have more information. And columnists should too.

  213. Not sure Ms. Goldberg has thought of this independent reason for her previous column's "black or white, no shades of gray" stance (which she seems to be softening a bit here, though not abandoning): If you acknowledge that there are shades of gray (and guess what: there are), you create a risk that "gray" sexual harassment will be condoned, that only the "black" variety will be punished. If that occurs, many people will conclude, incorrectly, that sexual harassment short of the Harvey Weinstein variety is OK. I don't think so. "Gray" sexual harassment will be punished, but with lesser forms of punishment than the "black" forms. What Al Franken allegedly did is far less serious than what Harvey Weinstein did. To argue that they deserve the same punishment will strike many people as so absurd that what Al Franken did could end up being condoned.

  214. Two lessons learned from the revelations about Al Franken and Charlie Rose: (1) you never really known anyone from his (or her) public persona; (2) because we’ve admired these men for years, it’s understandable that many supporters of Moore refuse to accept the reality of what he did. Our instinct is deny the harsh reality of learning our heroes are sometimes significantly flawed. Today especially, we need heroes.

  215. I am relieved to see this followup to your previous column, which I thought was a ridiculous rush to judgement. It is important to pay attention to accusations of sexual harassment, but it is also important to weigh the seriousness of the offenses in determining an appropriate response.

  216. This is a lot like the unilateral vs. bilateral nuclear disarmament argument. Minnesota Democrats could replace Franken with a senator who would be as progressive and have less baggage. (And ideally be a woman.) Alabama Republicans are still favored to elect Roy Moore. And there are most definitely Republicans in Congress with dubious histories that will be hushed up or disbelieved or not make a difference with voters because Republicans fundamentally don't care about sexual harassment. After all, they elected a sexual harasser to be president. We're still ruled in large part by Boomer men. Some are ideologically better than others. A lot of them have pasts. A lot of them have presents that are bound by those pasts and have only just had the wake-up call. It may be time to encourage a generational retirement. Elect more women.

  217. I appreciate both of Ms. Goldberg's thoughtful columns. I think many of us are not wrestling with the weight of partisanship, but the dangers of a sudden moral absolutism. She says, "Learning about all the seemingly good guys who do shameful things is what makes this moment...so painful and confounding." Is this really a revelation, whether about sexual harassment or anything else? Can we distinguish between the patterns of behavior---indeed criminal or pathological behavior---that mark a Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, or Anthony Weiner, and what is being described in Al Franken's or Mr. Thrush's case? The photo with Ms. Tweeden was a serious lapse of judgment, it was dumb, disrespectful, and inappropriate. The stories of Thrush show him acting like a jerk, as many might say. But, let he (or she) who is without sin cast the first stone. Who can say they haven't done things of that kind -- a petty act, a mean-spirited word, an angry or hurtful remark, a moment of getting even, a time we went along with the crowd. I don't have a bleak view of humankind. On the contrary, we stumble and we get up, and we all do many good things that rightly we'd prefer to be judged by. Forget the agonizing over partisanship, can we keep some sense of perspective and balance? Meanwhile, back on the farm, immigrants are being deported, families separated, Americans threatened with the loss of health care, and a regime of inequality consolidated that will make all these discussions meaningless.

  218. How do liberals maintain their moral standing if they do not call for the resignation of Al Franken? It's not that complicated: 1) We act like discerning adults aware that there is a broad range of behaviors that fall into the category of sexual misconduct and therefore there need to be a broad range of consequences. 2) We are not naive and frankly foolish enough to believe that zero tolerance policies work in ANY situation--personal or societal. True predators do not stop just because we tell them we won't tolerate their behavior. Punishment should be proportional and not mistaken as a salve to replace the harder work of addressing the underlying issues. 3) We use this and all the others that follow as teaching moments: mistake made, offender called out, apology made, changed behavior moving forward--educate, educate, educate. This works far better in real life than rigid, one size fits all proclamations,

  219. Women should have equal pay for equal work. Right now women are underpaid compared to men doing the same work. Equality would make tangible progress in women's rights. We should not pass up this opportunity that is finally at our doorsteps. The current scandals are screaming for more than passing outrage.

  220. "It seems perverse that Franken could be on his way out of the Senate while Moore might be on his way in." It does indeed. "[I]t sometimes feels as if liberal institutions are devouring themselves over sex while conservatives, unburdened by the pretense of caring about gender equality, blithely continue their misrule." It surely does. When I read the column you wrote last Thursday, I was struck by the false equivalence underlying your analysis. Your position was, "It doesn’t matter that Franken’s transgression wasn’t on the same level as the abuses that the Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore or Donald Trump have been accused of." Actually it does matter, and it matters a great deal. Your columns, today's and last Thursday's, take the position that only the perfect are fit to lead. That has never been so, and it is not so today. You would condemn a justice system that punished the prostitute more severely than the john, yet you were willing to sacrifice Franken to maintain the moral high ground. This false equivalence between Roy Moore's actions and Al Franken's actions doesn't force feminists to treat their own standards as unrealistic. It calls for feminists to think carefully about their standards and how to articulate the case for those standards.

  221. And this was probably written before Charlie Rose and Rep. John Conyers. But this is the exact logic, the same double standard that allowed Trump to move past the accusations against him and his own words. Hillary Clinton could not effectively criticize Trump when she and what were once influential women’s organizations justified and enabled them President Bill Clintons actions; actions that any Republican would have been castigated for thrown out of any consideration of political office. My theory is we are not seeing the same avalanche on the right because they have known this for decades. Men who consider themselves liberal justify their actions because of their political and you and Goldberg allow them to do that. Who does that really serve and who is expendable for the sake of the cause?

  222. Dear Michelle Goldberg, Thank you for your thoughtful columns. I'm aligned with Franken politically and feel great sorrow, but I agreed with your first column. It's not just that defending Franken undermines calling out the Republicans, it's that it undermines calling out sexual harassment. I think of my politically active progressive daughters, my traditional Democrat sisters, and all the daughters and sisters out there for whom this moment FINALLY offers a promise of "enough!" and I am sick about the tepid response from Democratic leaders -- and the tone-deaf hollowness from Franken himself. And the USO case, the attack on Tweeden, while not the most lurid sexually, was so vindictive -- he didn't like her putting him off, and deliberately, gleefully humiliated her. A mean-spirited bully, even if he votes the way I like.

  223. The dichotomy of Moore possibly in and Franken possibly out, is tragedy writ large. But, from the conservative perspective (of which I am not part), over the years, there have been highly effective conservative legislators who, on occasion, have been tossed out for sexual misadventures ( though they rarely compare in creepiness and magnitude of wrongs, to Trump). Why wouldn't conservatives, when thinking of these non-Trump people (who in policy effectiveness might be the grim reaper from the liberal perspective), come to the same maudlin conclusions as some liberals do on Franken? I admit I was shocked by your initial call for his departure. And now there's another incident, albeit seemingly "minor" in comparison to what others have inflicted. It's the logic that troubles me. While logic and "equal application" seem alien concepts to today's Republicans, they do bear keeping in mind.

  224. I feel devastated by the reaction to the charges against Senator Franken, largely because I admire his instincts as a politician, but also because I find it difficult to trust the accusations as easily as others have. I do not believe that all women should automatically be believed any more than all men should. I have doubts that justice is being served. These are sad and dark days and I wish the best to all the Franken family.

  225. "Those who care about women’s rights shouldn’t be expected to prove it by being willing to hand power to people devoted to taking those rights away ... Yet just as there’s a cost for cutting good but imperfect men loose ..." Thank you, Ms. Goldberg. Your editorial was both enlightening and helpful. Helpful especially to those of us who found the situation troubling and painful, not least because it looks like a game we cannot win.

  226. Yes, a stupid mistake is different than chronic willful aggressive behavior that harms. I'm glad that we are now at a stage in this discussion where we can begin to distinguish between them. Furthermore, I am most concerned that by seeing all sexual transgressions as one, we may actually be diminishing the seriousness of criminal sexual violence.

  227. Thank you for this column. Al Franken is one of my favorite senators, and prior to the news of his inexcusable behavior during the 2006 USO trip, I sent a donation to his campaign fund, something I wouldn't normally do for an out-of-state politician. I was very disappointed to hear what he had done, but after reading your first essay, I felt that in balance, he was more valuable to the country in the senate than out if it. So I was hopeful that there would be a way for him to carry on his good legislative work, while paying a reasonable price in the form of public shaming for his misbehavior. Those commenting on your earlier essay seemed to largely agree with me. Now there is news of a second offense, but I continue to feel he should stay in the senate and try to guide public policy in a positive direction. Having said that, I would hope that he has learned the lesson that harassment has no place in a civil society, and that we should respect each other, and behave accordingly. He has expressed regret for his actions in a heartfelt and believable way, something I have not heard from any of the other offenders, whose actions were generally much more troublesome than Senator Franken's, and yet they continue to self-righteously deny any wrongdoing. I would expect that he would go beyond the apology he has already made, and make a real effort to publicly spread the word that the only way to treat people is with respect.

  228. "however these dilemmas play out, we lose: either the moral high ground or men whom we need, admire and maybe even love." It is true that the politics of this issue quickly turns into a quagmire, because politics is NOT a landscape that is primarily defined by morality but by winners and losers. The political response in the end will result in statutes, policies, winners and losers which will be helpful and necessary. Moore is clearly (so far) much worse in his comportment than Franken. However the moral conversation which is the core of the matter, takes real root and heart in communities of common life. Building character, promoting empathetic respect, and insisting on disciplined fidelity to core principles is the domain of family, service organizations, faith communities etc. The moral challenge and opportunity on this issue at this time resides in these settings. It can start with the conversation that we have on Thanksgiving about this issue. Hopefully not left just to the politics and what to do about "them" but personalized. How should one act? What if one sees or becomes aware of harassing behavior what should we do to protect and hold people accountable.

  229. If we are finally going to be serious about this topic, we should be serious about it. We should start with definitions. There is a difference between physical, sexual and harassment. Some are offended by any physical contact by a stranger, but that does not mean the contact is sexual or harassment. Nor does contact like kissing mean the contact is sexual or harassment. A starting point to consider might be the intent of the contact. At this point there is no indication Franken had sexual or harassment intent in his contacts with either woman. However the contacts initiated by Trump, Moore and Clinton were clearly sexual and were directed at further sexual contact. The offense of their touching is unmistakable. Their behaviors were predatory. Whether mindless, clumsy or completely innocent the contacts by Franken thus reported were not. And yes the Republicans are treating these instances quite different because to do so serves their political goals which is all that matters to them.

  230. "It seems perverse that Franken could be on his way out of the Senate while Moore might be on his way in." Yes, and even more so that Trump is "president." But, of course, hypocrisy on the right knows no bounds. Al Franken's sexual transgressions are no where on the same scale as Roy Moore's or Trump's. So, if the right wants to play the role of moral judge and demand that Franken step down, then it's long overdue to hold Trump accountable for his self-confessed sexual assaults, not to mention taking seriously the credible accusations of the 24 women who were Trump's victims.

  231. Trump never "self-confessed" to sexual assault. The accusations of the women are not anywhere near credible, except by those who oppose Trump's policy choices. It is not the right who are proposing that Franken resign. It is Democrats who perceive that if they sacrifice a few lesser Democrats it will bolster their case for the resignation or impeachment of Trump. Republicans claimed the high ground on sexual misbehavior decades ago. Guilty Republicans resign and fade into the night.

  232. Ah, but the Right ISN'T asking that Franken step down. It's the Left asking for that. So we can lose the war, but win a very small battle in the war of the sexes. If the Republicans completely take over, who wins? Not any of us, and certainly not women.

  233. Thank you for this thoughtful discussion of a difficult issue. cf this 538 article about how "Values Voters" really value policy on a greater level than the character of the people they're electing (see https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-values-that-values-voters-care-.... Both you and those values voters are dealing with the conundrum of deciding what's more important: (i) values as embodied by the actions of an individual vs. (ii) values in terms of the policies that that individual supports (as part of a hotly contested governmental system where those values are, without question, under serious attack). I do not pretend to have the answers: it's an individual moral judgment that all of us must make. That said, I would have us recognize that picking #2, as those "values voters" have done, leads to a perverse result: politicians, the people who should presumably be the best among us (roll your eyes, but that's the ideal), get MORE leeway in terms of public sexual deviancy, because sexual politics has such high stakes for all Americans! Maybe we need to be more charitable to those the right--notwithstanding that #2 leads to a perverse result morally, it leads to better results politically. They've decided it's better to be a hypocrite with power than an intellectually honest electoral loser. I think we're at the point where we would too. At least we can be honest about our own hypocrisy as we win elections!

  234. The idea of running out of Democrat politicians is simply laughable. We have plenty of supplies, good supplies, of politicians. What matters is whether Democratic party would allow them into the arena.

  235. Since is it is a truth universally acknowledged that justice delayed is justice denied, why don't we address the fact that Al Franken's accuser waited for more than a decade until she voiced her outrage against the inappropriate acts of Mr. Franken? She was not afraid of him or should not have been so. In 2006 he was a comedian past his prime. They were very temporarily part of an entertaining troupe for soldiers in Iraq together - not even co-workers. "Revenge is a dish best served cold" is a witty saying but should not be the order of the day in these troubled times.

  236. But in the end, what Franken, and the others, some of whom we know and some of whom we'll come to know, did was wrong. I share Michelle's deep distrust of Conservatives; pretty sure they'll not be as incensed when their sins are revealed as they are when those of Democrats are. But wrong is still wrong and, though Franken's heart may be in the right place most of the time his lips and hands have not always been. He should resign but continue to serve until the moment his replacement has been sworn in. And I think if was you, Michelle, who suggested that Mark Dayton, Minnesota's governor, should appoint a woman to take Franken's seat. An excellent idea if there is a woman with the stature to be elected on her own in 2020.

  237. In each instance of Senator Franken's behavior there were other people present. The awkward kiss, the silly grope and the woman at the State Fair. Let's take the smothering kiss. In many show business situations two people who may or may not like each other kiss for a scene. I can only imagine how silly it gets while doing retakes. If Ms. Tweeden had been alone with Mr. Franken in either instance then the issue might be something improper. But with NONE of his accusers was he alone thus how could he be accused of anything untoward. There are certainly many horrible instances of male misbehavior. Senator Franken should not be included at all.