Tuesday, January 6, 2009

One More Word On Al Franken, or: Vengeance For Wellstone

A few years ago, I found Franken's second book in a bookstore. (His first book, Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, had been a birthday present for me in high school.) I opened it to a random page and ended up reading the longest chapter in the book, which was on Norm Coleman's 2002 Senate victory.

The chapter read differently than any of his other writing. Franken was presenting an anguished account of how Coleman and the Republican Party had managed to turn Paul Wellstone's funeral into a media story for their benefit, and use that to win the election by 2%. The rest of the book was as lighthearted and funny as you'd expect from a comedian writing about politics, but the dominant emotions of this chapter were outrage and anguish and pain. Before reading the chapter, I didn't even know that Franken was from Minnesota, but it was clear to me afterwards that Franken had been watching the events of 2002 from a front-row seat and that they were driving him crazy.

I imagine that the desire to undo what happened six years ago was a big part of what drove him to run for Senate this time around. Now that he's going to be the next Senator from Minnesota, I'm not only very happy that he won, but very happy for him.


Anonymous said...

i wonder if the Senate "capitulation caucus" would have shown more backbone over the last six years had Wellstone remained alive. he seemed to complement Feingold as a positive example: more fiery, less obviously "reasonable," the kind of guy who pushes out the Overton window and makes a Kennedy or Leahy seem middle-of-the-pack. i don't know anything about MN politics but i'd imagine he'd be marching to a heroic reelection in 2008.

(btw, Franken had written a couple of books in between "Idiot" and "Liars" but point well taken.)

corvus said...

I remember reading Liars sophomore years of college, staying up until five in the morning to keep reading. Ah, college: really engaging book.

But yeah, it's just like you describe, Neil. The book is all fun, snide humor at the expense of Republicans, until it gets to that chapter, which just stops dead, makes no attempt at a joke once. You can almost feel Franken's anger breathing on your shoulder.

This contest was personal for him. In fact, I always figured, since I first heard about him running (I never got around to reading The Truth) that he was doing it to avenge Wellstone. I'm glad he pulled it off, as narrowly as he did.

Senator Smalley. God, that makes me happy.

corvus said...

Huh, you know, before my last comment, I somehow completely missed the second half of your title.

But it's true. This campaign was partly about vengeance. And it felt good. Just call him Al "Ghost Rider" Franken.

Chotlyd: Cthulu's younger brother

Neil Sinhababu said...

I added it after reading your comment, Corvus, because I felt the post needed it :)

corvus said...

Ah, well, that makes me feel much better.

Justin said...

How did they manage to turn Wellstone's funeral into a media event to their benefit?

corvus said...

One of the speakers made some comments about the election, and wanting to win for Paul's sake or something, and the right portrayed it as being in poor taste and disrespectful, and then basically ran on Democrats beings soulless monsters trying to use someone death to their political gain. Basically doing exactly what they were accusing democrats of doing, and pulling it off. I can't remember the details precisely, but I think that's the gist of it.

wiger: a white guy who tries to act like a tiger

Neil Sinhababu said...

"wiger" is awesome.