Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Senator Al

I have mixed feelings about Al Franken as a Senator.

On the one hand, he's an intelligent compassionate man, Harvard educated and yet from a working class background. My exposure to him has been limited to his stint on Saturday Night Live and his daily radio show on Air America, in which he spoke to progressives who were tired of being made to feel like second class citizens. His thoughts on his show were better than most hosts of talk radio, even lefties, and you could tell he'd made an effort to understand the other side.

On the other hand, he's a Jew!!!!!!!!

Just kidding.

On the other hand, because he's a thoughtful and intelligent man who's reached out to the other side, you have to wonder about his loyalties. After all, a liberal from Minnesota is more like a New York City Republican than a true progressive, altho Franken may be the exception that challenges that rule-o-thumb. A liberal from Minnesota who can count Norm Orenstein of the American Enterprize Institute (who's considered a liberal there, but you know...) and Joe Scarborough, that's a tough call.

On the other OTHER hand, to quote Tevye, Al was a protege and admirer of Senator Paul Wellstone and no one could ever accuse Wellstone of being anything less than a progressive.

The other misgiving I have about Al is, well, he comes off as kind of smarmy and unctious. When I listen to him, I feel like I need a shower sometimes and not because he can curse a blue streak. There's just something in his manner that rubs me the wrong way. I wonder if it's just me (probably) or if this is a general impression and so how is he going to work with other Senators?

Not that other Senators are necessarily down-to-earth people who can't rub a cat the wrong way, mind you, but there is a hierarchy and it will be interesting to see if, like Hillary Clinton, Franken can work with the system or if he'll end up like another famous Minnesotan flop, Jesse Ventura, and rail about "process."

We shall see. Certainly, the fact that this election was as close as it was in a year when Barack Obama established new records for a first term Democratic President speaks volumes about the two men running (who actually had a chance of winning, I mean).

A dead heat tells me this election was between Odious and Odiouser in the eyes of Minnesotans. Neither candidate amassed a simple majority of the vote and many people registered their disgust by simply voting for the third candidate in the race.

But, another famously odious politician won his first Federal election in a similar manner and went on to become the "Greatest. President. Ever, to quote Al Franken: Bill Clinton.

So Senator? Congratulations. Don't fuck it up.