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Opinion: Franken and Trump: Readers on two politicians’ very different reactions to harassment claims

Then-comedian Al Franken and sports commentator Leeann Tweeden perform a comic skit in Mosul, Iraq, in 2006 as part of a USO tour.
(Creighton Holub / AP)

During his political career, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) seemed to balance a biting, sometimes off-color sense of humor with personal moral decency so adeptly. Or so we thought.

The revelation Thursday that Franken inappropriately kissed model Leeann Tweeden and posed for a photograph as if he were groping her while she slept during a 2006 USO tour — two years before Franken was elected to the Senate — has prompted calls for his resignation, including some from fellow Democrats. Others, including many of our letter writers, question whether an incident like the one to which the senator admitted and apologized for should be held in the same moral contempt as President Trump’s bragged-about sexual misconduct or Roy Moore’s alleged groping of a teenage girl while in his 30s.

Barbara Porter of Palm Desert says Franken’s apology counts for a lot:

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Franken has admitted his behavior in 2006 was wrong. His intent was to be funny, not to harass Tweeden.

Yes, the unwanted kiss was out of line, and Franken sincerely apologized for his behavior, saying, “My own actions have given people a good reason to doubt [me, which] makes me feel ashamed.” Compare that to Trump, whose “Access Hollywood” tape left no question as to where his hands would go.

Franken’s photo was more reminiscent of the over-the-top Burlesque era. That era’s gone now, and Franken has grown into a strong advocate for what’s right for the country.

Arcadia resident Arch Miller reminds Trump we’re still waiting on his apology:

Trump has a Franken problem.

Tweeden has accused Franken of forcibly kissing her, and in a photo, Franken is seen appearing to grope her. We are all familiar with the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump bragged that he kissed women without asking them and could grab their genitals because he was a celebrity.

Now, let us consider Trump’s and Franken’s responses.

Trump dismissed the video’s language as locker-room talk and called his accusers liars. Franken admitted that his conduct was inappropriate and wrong. He apologized and has called for a Senate ethics investigation. Tweeden is rightfully still furious with Franken, but she has accepted his apology.

Many of us are waiting for Trump to apologize.

Charles Reilly of Manhattan Beach calls for depoliticizing sexual harassment claims:

It didn’t take long for politicians to turn the sexual harassment scandal into a political football. The refrain now from both sides of the aisle is, “Your sexual predators are worse than our sexual predators.”

As for Franken, that picture of him with his hands on Tweeden is worth a thousand words. According to Franken, he didn’t remember “the incident” the way Tweeden did. Maybe the photo will refresh his memory.

But he needn’t worry about any repercussions. Because Franken is a Democrat, the calls for his resignation will be all but muted by members of his own party. There’s plenty of hypocrisy on all sides of this issue.

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