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December 10, 2017

SALENA ZITO: FOR ONCE, THE JOKE IS ON AL FRANKEN.

America is in the middle of a political awakening of sorts with all kinds of moving parts. Franken did not survive because he was caught in the storm, he left because he was part of the storm that swept out our culture’s moral compass a generation ago.

When we decided 40 years ago — at the beginning of the ‘me’ generation — to drop societal norms and boundaries, we gave people the OK to behave badly; especially men. It was cool to be naughty, uncool to be respectful and gentlemanly.

It appears that storm is fading fast in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in both our culture and our politics. And politicians and aspiring politicians who had the wink, wink, nod, nod OK to do this, while polite society looked the other way, don’t get any more winks or nods anymore.

Maybe the best test of all for our country would have been that Franken didn’t resign, but stayed to face the people who put him in office in the first place. It would be in that moment we would know if voters would bargain their values away in favor tribal of politics.

Well, Franken hasn’t resigned-resigned yet (as Polanski-apologist Whoopi Goldberg would say), and depending upon what happens in the Roy Moore election, Minnesota voters might still be put to that test.

But in the meantime, isn’t it curious that Lorne Michaels, who created Saturday Night Live in 1975 and still produces it, and infused its “nothing is true; everything is permitted*” style throughout the NBC culture, has yet to be asked about Franken, whose career he launched and employed for decades, or this current cultural moment? Considering Michaels works in the same office building with them, he shouldn’t be all that difficult for NBC “reporters” to track down, if they actually wanted to bother.

* SNL’s first lead writer, former National Lampoon co-founder Michael O’Donoghue, idolized William S. Burroughs, the heroin-addicted beat generation writer, and frequently quoted Burroughs’ motto as his comedy goal.