It’s heartening that the reaction to the words of Sen. Al Franken’s resignation announcement Thursday has been overwhelmingly negative.
After all, bitterness and defiance in the face of multiple credible allegations of sexual misconduct is a bad look for anyone, right or left.
It's disheartening, however, that there are some who heard the Minnesota Democrat’s speech and thought it was “heartfelt” and poignant.
Which version did they watch?
Now, to be clear, this isn’t to say that the people who hailed his speech also think his resignation is undeserved. Quite the opposite, actually. Nearly all of the people who cheered Franken's address agree with those who hated it in saying it’s time for the senator to go.
That said, it’s mind-boggling that anyone heard something worthy of praise in what Franken said Thursday.
New York Times contributor Jamie O’Grady, for example, tweeted, “Heartfelt speech by Franken. This is an inherently good and decent human being who exercised inexcusably poor judgement and now he’s paying the price. This is what accountability looks like, GOP.”
“Thank you for your service [Sen. Franken]. Admitting to your faults and showing class & humility. Something we can not [sic] say about the [GOP],” tweeted actor Lenny Jacobson. “A huge loss for the party & the country.”
Journalist Al Giordano added elsewhere, “Al Franken, today, showed true leadership. In doing so he remains an effective citizen on the public stage."
NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, for example, waxed poetic by saying, “the people who sent [Franken] to Washington were left out of this decision” and that the senator was “driven out by his own party and his own conscience.”
This is how a Senator would resign on The West Wing.— ????Joshua Malina???? (@JoshMalina) December 7, 2017
Is it inappropriate that I want to give Al Franken a hug?— JJ Whitehead (@JJWhitesnake) December 7, 2017
These are some curiously positive reviews for a man who clearly believes he has done nothing wrong and would most certainly remain in office were it up to him.
At least eight women have accused Franken of unwanted sexual advances, both before and after he joined the Senate.
Franken’s first accuser, Leeann Tweeden, said he forcibly kissed her in 2006 during a USO tour rehearsal. On that same tour, when Tweeden was asleep, Franken also posed for a photo that showed him pretending to grope her breasts. There's photo evidence.
A second woman, Lindsay Menz, said Franken grabbed her buttocks in 2010, after he was elected senator, when they posed for a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair. She told her friends and family at the time, and they’ve corroborated her story. She also posted about the incident on social media at the time.
And those are just the first two examples.
On Thursday, Franken cast doubt on his accusers while simultaneously claiming we must “believe women.”
"All women deserve to be heard, and their experiences taken seriously,” he said before adding of the allegations leveled against him that they "are not true" and that he remembers the encounters "very differently."
He characterized himself as a champion for women's rights. He also characterized himself as a victim. He dismissed his accusers, and he leaned heavily on some whataboutism regarding the Republican Party's sexual misconduct scandals.
His resignation speech was a final “I’m innocent” served with a big side of “the GOP is worse.”
It wasn't brave, honorable or "heartfelt." It was bitter, self-pitying and defiant, which is about par for the course for Franken.