Interesting, interesting…Posted: April 14, 2008
Franken’s significance to Democrats stems not just from the opportunity to gain a seat in the Senate. Minnesota is a crucial swing state in the presidential race, and its governor, Tim Pawlenty, is a likely choice to become John McCain’s running mate. So a strong Democratic Senate candidate is a necessary bulwark. If November’s elections are anything like the wave that swept Democrats into office in 2006, the party will stand not only to regain the presidency but also possibly to win a veto-proof majority in the Senate. For that to happen, however, it will almost certainly need to carry Minnesota. So for Democrats, an awful lot is riding on Al Franken and the open question of whether a funny guy can play the straight man.
“There are some pretty interesting questions about the nature of the fit,” Lawrence Jacobs, the University of Minnesota professor, says. “He has a way about him that’s kind of brash and slightly out of control. You can say that Ventura and Wellstone had that makeup in certain respects. But it was less about them personally, and they were able to project that as a political message. With Franken, a lot of that brashness, it’s almost as if he needs to be the center of attention.”
And, of course, he always has been. The common thread running through Franken’s various career incarnations—comedian, author, radio personality—is that each has rewarded the impulsive, unbridled responses that are his signature talent. He is funny, smart, and quick-witted, and probably would not have succeeded to the degree he has if he possessed the instinctive caution and self-control that all good politicians eventually must develop.
I’ve found Franken’s run for Senate to be very fascinating. We’ll see what happens in November.
I, for one, wish him the best.