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We live in the golden age of non-apologies. From Kevin Spacey believing coming out of the closet covered for lunging at a 14 year old Anthony Rapp counts to Louis C.K. managing to write an apology without writing the word "sorry" after he got caught whipping his dick out in front of women he had obvious power over, this is for beating around the bush what 1996 was for hip hop . It's the World Cup of Cynicism in what response to what does feel like a historic moment. And like OutKast's ATLiens, Al Franken's resignation speech at the senate isn't the front runner, but it's the one I will argue for as the exemplar of the form. I'll always have that Occupy Democrats meme bushwa Al sputtered out in the Capitol in the cellar of my shriveled and blackened heart until I'm in the ground cold.
His resignation speech had so much disingenuous cynicism and flimsy populism it made a Pepsi commercial look like a Ken Loach joint. Like what fellow Midwesterner Garrison Keillor said about his history of creepiness, the events didn't happen the way the women remembered and the official version is “more interesting” . He exhumed Paul Wellstone's corpse to tack on a faux populist statement at the end of his dribble. And, in between all that, Al removed his diaper and held it aloft in protest about how ironic it is Donald Trump is president and Roy Moore is probably going to be a senator, all while nary a Democrat busy body ran to wrap a towel around his waist, and, for the love of Christ, CRIED when he resigned, like it was a high school graduation speech. It's not a valedictorian butchering a Vonnegut quote, it's a snot nosed kid apologizing because his parents won't give him is toys back until he does.
I probably missed it in the last four days because it wasn't talked about much. Days are like decades now, with the wonderful excesses of the 24 hour news cycle and social media acting like a traffic jam caused by a 6 car pile-up every hundred feet, but how there's a general lack of disorder and anger at Al Franken ending his career on a twelve minute wet fart so bad it could have caused the Airborne Toxic Event is beyond me.
I suspect the lack of discussion is it's because there is truth there. Donald Trump has had over ten women accuse him of rape. You don't even need the accusations: on a long enough timeline his gold fish brain will confess to a daytime talkshow host himself, and he's even on record joking about his buddy (and lawsuit buddy) Jeffrey Epstein's pedophilia. Roy Moore's done everything short of dress up as an earring stand at a Claire's. This is all disgusting, but I won't waste further time complaining when I can handily link my own work and I'm writing an entire essay condemning Al Franken's goodbye. It's also totally immaterial. Unless Roy Moore and Donald Trump are puppeteers and Al Franken is America’s first secret marionette Senator, you can't cite other people's bad behavior as a reason yours doesn't count. '
Al Franken was a creep and he got caught and now he's facing consequences he doesn't like, just like Louis CK and Kevin Spacey. No teenage Russians told him grab ass, no black lab took the picture of him groping a lady's flak armor. In those actions there was Al Franken and somebody who didn't matter enough for him to refrain. You can't send the irony of it all to do jail time for you.
We're already seeing the soft attempts at damage control, all of which could have been solved by him resigning instead of waiting to. A piece in Vice News gave his staffers space to talk about his office being one of the more women friendly in the Senate. Which is wonderful, though it begs the question why he couldn't be friendly to women everywhere, why they're so keen to say he shouldn't be the face of the Me Too moment (which isn't being proposed at the Antifa headquarters where I work, to my knowledge), and whether they know if hypocrites get their own bolgia, as do corrupt counselors. But the Al Franken story will probably always be my Paris, the immediate association when someone brings up "man caught with pants down". Everytime I see somebody flutter out some half-assed thing with a searing message because they cced a picture of their johnson to the entire office, Al Franken. The whole saga begs the questions: why now?
I think it's the picture that sticks with me. I started writing a mathematical breakdown of how curious it was that the picture didn't come out until now. According to Leanne Tweeden's account, the picture on the USO 2006 picture CD. This was ignored for 11 years and why? Because there's a culture of silence. It's one of the ugliest documents of rape culture I've ever seen.
And for once, there was black and white proof! A picture, the one thing we're supposed to want, otherwise it didn't happen. Yet, here it is, pretty clearly happening.
Isn't it ironic?
The only response to these ironies, really, is productive outrage: oust everybody who preys on women, and vote somebody in until we get a Congress that doesn’t, until they get caught too. Make it hard on them. You can't oust a future senator for his misconduct if you won't oust a present one. How will you oust the President if you can't get rid of a senator? How do you condemn a brood of vipers and keep another one around because you like it?
If the goal is a just society, the unjust have to face justice, progressive or otherwise. After all, the guillotine took Robespierre, Danton, and Louis XVI and never once discerned between the politics in their blood.