Al Franken’s resignation speech was insensitive

By projecting his own problems onto others, Franken was unapologetic in his resignation.


Courtsey of C-Span, public domain (not C-Span elements)

Franken announces his plan to resign to the Senate

Sexual assault is a personal, sensitive issue. When individuals are accused of sexual abuse, they have a moral responsibility to respond with care and sincerity. Political officials, often esteemed as representatives of character, have a particular obligation to handle serious allegations of sexual assault virtuously. Al Franken’s resignation speech, made in the wake of claims that he committed sexual assault, falls tremendously short of this standard.

The first insulting shortcoming of Franken’s speech was his loose oversight of potentially condemning evidence. Accusations made against Franken were caused by the discovery of an old photograph that depicts him touching another woman almost certainly without consent. Regardless of the truth of the matter, Franken’s response was negligent. Even in the event that all of this is a misunderstanding, he failed to even explicitly acknowledge and reconcile this concerning photograph. Alternatively, in the likely event that Franken is guilty of abuse, his response is even more insulting. Politicians are held to a standard of virtue and honesty, and a lie to America over such a severe matter is grievously criminal. Sexual assault has historically been a massive problem in the United States, and Franken’s lukewarm response to these accusations overlooks the grave personal implications of the issue.

His resignation left Americans in a disappointed state of distrust, and once again undermined the severity of the accusation of sexual assault.”

— Charlie Kraemer

Adding insult to injury is Franken’s irresponsible projection of his accusations onto the current White House Administration. Rather than focusing on the issue at hand and giving Americans certainty regarding the allegations of sexual assault, Franken emphasized his own discontent with the election of Donald Trump, whose controversial recordings were also a grievous insult to victims of sexual assault. While Donald Trump’s recorded sexism and ignorance warrant austere criticism, this should not have been the purpose of Al Franken’s speech. This bore no impact on the most pressing issue in the hearts of his audience: the actions of Franken himself. Franken’s failure to clearly address the warrant for his resignation left Americans in a state of distrust, and once again undermined the severity of the accusation of sexual assault.


Franken’s resignation speech was an opportunity to leave office on a strong, positive note. With the continued growth of the #MeToo movement, a sincere acknowledgement of Franken’s failures could have increased the momentum of a positive change in society. Unfortunately, however, Franken used his resignation to deliver an uncertain, noncommittal message that left both his supporters and his opponents in doubt and discontent. Franken’s speech was a critical failure, stymieing combat against sexual assault while disrespecting victims of sexual assault themselves with indifferent rhetoric.