As he announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate Wednesday, Al Franken confronted the central question he may face in the early going — whether a lifelong comic should be taken seriously. “Minnesotans have a right to be skeptical,” Franken said in a video message on his campaign website that declared his run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Norm Coleman….”I want you to know: nothing means more to me than making government work better for the working families of this state,” Franken said. “And over the next 20 months I look forward to proving to you that I take these issues seriously.”
Those who don’t know Al Franken will no doubt question whether or not a comedian has the gravitas to be taken serious as a politician- particularly as a Senate candidate and in a state that not long ago elected a professional wrestler (Jesse Ventura) as Governor. Those folks would be seriously underestimating Franken, however. Yes, he’s funny, and he’s always been one of my favorite comedians. Few people can skewer another human being with anything close to the alacrity and rapier wit of Al Franken. What many don’t realize, though, is that he’s also been a keen observer of the political world for many years, and his radio show on Air America has provided him with a platform from which to advocate for Progressive issues while skewering the Rabid Right and their self-interested, short-sighted agenda.
As a native Minnesotan, I would be proud to have Al Franken representing the state I grew up in. If nothing else, the Senate would certainly and instantly become a much more entertaining place. And Minnesotans would have far superior representation than they now currently enjoy with Norm “Tabula Rasa” Coleman, perhaps the singlest dumbest human being to ever haunt the halls of the US Senate.
As you might imagine, Republicans, particularly in Minnesota, have wasted little time in trying to paint Franken as Satan Incarnate:
Republican Party officials and conservative bloggers have been issuing preemptive attacks on Franken for weeks, focusing on some of his more outrageous skits on “Saturday Night Live” and other performances, and his role in recent years as a scathing critic of President Bush and other conservatives.
“Given his blind partisanship and extreme anger, Al Franken is the last person Minnesotans need in the United States Senate,” Republican Party chairman Ron Carey said in a statement before the announcement. “While Sen. Norm Coleman continues to work with all sides for the betterment of our state and nation, Franken offers Minnesotans nothing but polarization and vitriolic personal attacks.”
What Republicans view as “polarization and vitriolic personal attacks” is merely Franken turning the tables. Republicans have done this to Democrats for years, but they HATE when an erudite and articulate Democrats employs the same tactics on them. It’s not nearly as much fun being on the receiving end.
Carey held a news conference after the announcement and distributed four pages of quotes from Franken over the years, including his recent description of Coleman as “one of the [Bush] administration’s leading butt boys.”
Carey said Franken would be “incredibly flawed as a candidate” because “he has said so many bizarre things.”’ However, he acknowledged that the Senate race is likely to be very close because Minnesota has become “a very split state” between DFLers and Republicans.
All Franken has done over the years is to demonstrate that he has a functional sense of humor (unlike most Republicans) and that he is willing to use it to pursue and advance a Progressive agenda. Anyone who has ready any of Franken’s books can attest to the fact that, not only is the man funny, he’s also done his homework. He’s not just ridiculing Republicans to be mean-spirited; he’s ridiculing Republicans because their policies and attitudes make them richly deserving of it.
Not only can Republicans not take a joke, they also cannot debate him on the issues- and they know this. Why else would they immediately lead off with a character assassination campaign? They have nothing on Franken, and they have nothing to offer as an alternative. Norm Coleman? Please; the man has the intellectual candlepower of powdered milk….and he is “one of the [Bush] administration’s leading butt boys.”
Al Franken may well turn out to be a funnier version of the late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone…and my homeland could certainly do worse. Come to think of it, they already are. Norm Coleman? The man’s got to have the lowest IQ in the history of the Senate…and Al Franken will eat his lunch.