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

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

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.

Most Shared

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

Someday, future Americans will look back on this era of school shootings in bafflement and disbelief—not only over the fact that it happened, but over how long it took us to enact significant legislation to try to stop it.

Five people die from vaping, and the government talks about banning vaping devices. Hundreds of American children have been shot to death in their classrooms, sometimes a dozen or so at a time, and the government has done practically nothing. It's unconscionable.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
via Hollie Bellew-Shaw / Facebook

For those of us who are not on the spectrum, it can be hard to perceive the world through the senses of someone with autism.

"You could think of a person with autism as having an imbalanced set of senses," Stephen Shore, assistant professor in the School of Education at Adelphi University, told Web MD.

"Some senses may be turned up too high and some turned down too low. As a result, the data that comes in tends to be distorted, and it's very hard to perceive a person's environment accurately," Shore continued.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

truth
True