Most Shared

The only 3 lines you need to know from Al Franken's resignation speech.

After eight years in office, Al Franken calls it quits.

The only 3 lines you need to know from Al Franken's resignation speech.

Earlier today, embattled Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) delivered a speech on the Senate floor responding to the sexual harassment accusations being leveled against him.

Wednesday saw the seventh and eighth allegations against the second-term senator come to light, immediately followed by a flood of more than 30 of his Democratic colleagues calling on Franken to resign.

He touched on all of that in his near-11-minute speech, opening with a reflection on his own feelings about being accused and closing by saying that when it came to his political career, he'd "do it all over again in a heartbeat." (Presumably without sexually harassing anyone?)


As far as apologies from the slate of powerful men recently facing consequences for a pattern of sexual harassment or abuse, Franken's initial statement on Nov. 16 was actually pretty solid. He struck the right balance of expressing remorse while still centering on the victim, and his track record of supporting women with his votes spoke for itself.

It's unsurprising that the left was conflicted over whether he should step down. People are complicated and are rarely heroes or monsters, but somewhere in between.

That's what makes it such a shame that his resignation speech featured many story beats we've heard before from other men on the left in similar situations. He hedged around what exactly it was he did or what he was apologizing for — some of which he denied happening at all — and, in something I'll get to in a moment, he shifted the conversation away from himself and onto other men.

In the end, there's really only three lines from his resignation speech that matter:

Franken in October 2017. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

1. "[I]n the coming weeks, I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate."

Listening to the pleas of his fellow senators, Franken confirmed that he will be yielding his position — though he didn't specify a date or time. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton will select Franken's replacement to hold the office until after the 2018 election, when voters will decide who will serve out the remainder of Franken's term (which expires in 2020).

Rumor has it that Dayton is expected to tap Lt. Gov. Tina Smith for the interim role.

Franken's office door. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Some might argue over if Franken should have to step down at all, especially given that a number of other lawmakers (and the president) are facing accusations just as bad — and, in some cases, worse — with no signs of accountability.

Which brings us to the second point from Franken's speech that matters...

2. "I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office ... "

He goes on to reference Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore as "a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls [and] campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party."

Earlier in his resignation, Franken dodged responsibility for some of the actions he's been accused of (including saying some are "simply not true"), but he concedes that stepping down is "the right thing to do."

Roy Moore and Donald Trump have both been accused of some pretty horrific acts, but have still retained the support of their party. Photos by Mark Wilson/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

There should be no illusions about what Franken's resignation — or that of Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), who retired earlier this week — means for the political careers of Trump, Moore, Blake Farenthold, and others. If there's any hope of actually addressing the cause of this problem, Franken's resignation couldn't be contingent on the actions of others. He had to do it because it was the right thing to do.

Removing serial sexual harassers and abusers from office can't be about "teams" or point-scoring — it has to be about ensuring that voters have representation in a government that truly has their interests at heart.

3. "Minnesotans deserve a senator who can focus with all her energy on addressing the challenges they face every day."

Did you catch what made that line so special? It's his use of a specific pronoun: her.

OK, so it's most likely that the "her" he's referencing is just a nod to some inside knowledge that Lt. Gov. Smith will likely take over his role in the interim. Or ... maybe it's more than that.

Perhaps Franken understands that if he's sincere in his belief that women are owed competent and effective leadership, that it's only fair that women — who currently occupy just 21 seats in the Senate — take the role he currently occupies.

After all, it's hard for women to feel represented by our government until they're represented in our government.

Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) speaking in Congress. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Regardless what he meant in that moment, the deviation from the social default of saying "he" is a bittersweet reminder that Franken, for all his faults, "got it," making his fall from grace and the actions that caused it that much more disappointing.

Longtime Franken supporters are right to feel conflicted watching the person they once looked up to have such an epic fall, but in the end, he did the right thing.

You can watch Franken's full speech below or read a transcript via Minnesota Public Radio.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
True

This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

Keep Reading Show less
Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."