Al Franken calls for an investigation of himself. Really?

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Al Franken investigation

In the apparently never-ending stream of celebrities and politicians being accused of sexual misconduct, Al Franken as become one of the latest whose past misdeeds have been exposed.  In case you haven’t heard, he’s been accused of forcibly kissing Leeann Tweeden during a USO trip and a picture has been released showing Franken simulating fondling her on the return trip.  While he claims to not remember the kiss, there’s no questioning the picture, for which he has apologized.

That’s all well and good, but there was something about his apology that doesn’t sit well with me.  Towards the end of his statement, he said, “I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.”

It’s not that ethics investigations are necessarily bad or that it’s not good to cooperate with them when they occur, but if you are the person who did something wrong and you want to have the truth come out about what happened, why not just say it yourself?  Why do you need to call for an investigation?

If I did something wrong at work and my response to my manager asking what happened was “We need to have an investigation,” should my manager see that as something that should elicit trust?

There are three explanations that I can think of for why Al Franken would call for an investigation of himself:

  1. He does not trust himself to tell the truth on his own; i.e. an investigation is the best way to get the truth out.
  2. He thinks that an investigation might get it wrong which would keep some of his wrongdoings under wraps.
  3. He thinks an investigation would be rigged in his favor.

Of these three possibilities, only the first one is “honorable” but in a perverted way.  The second two are much more realistic.  Just look at what happens whenever the police investigate themselves for something one of their own did.  There are all-too-true memes for this: “We investigated ourselves and cleared ourselves of any wrongdoing.”

I sincerely hope that Al Franken is truly sorry for his actions, but I fear that people like him are so used to enjoying their power that they believe themselves to operate on a different realm of ethics than everyone else.  It’s as if he believes—or actually wants everyone else to believe—that the results of a congressional investigation will be reality.  He’s smart enough to know that investigation will give him credibility and make it appear as though he’s honestly interested in justice.

Don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors.  Judge the politicians and others in power the same way you judge your neighbor.  And remember, your neighbor is very likely to be more deserving of your trust.


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