Why D.C. Needs Al Franken the Comedian More Than Al Franken the Policy Wonk
Everybody seems to be recalling examples of Sen.(!) Al Franken's appetite for wonkery, so here's mine: When Franken launched his campaign for Senate, a friend who worked for his campaign called excitedly to tell me to watch it. Apparently, Franken had been persuaded by political scientist Jacob Hacker's theories on income volatility destabilizing the middle class and had decided to make that the core message of his campaign. My friend figured I, as one of the 12 journalists on earth who knew who Hacker was, would be particularly interested.
Indeed, I rather doubt that the Senate is going to find Al Franken insufficiently interested in policy. Rather, I think it'll be the reverse. About a month ago, I sat down with a senator and some of his aides to discuss a particular piece of legislation he was sponsoring. I noted that a lot of natural allies seemed to be opposing the bill. That's not fair, one of his aides replied. They don't really understand it yet. When they do, they'll come around. I turned to the senator. "Has it been your experience," I asked, "that that's an accurate rendering of how this place works?" He didn't even try to reply. He just laughed.
Which is actually why I'm interested to see Al Franken, satirist, more than Al Franken, policy wonk. There are a lot of policy wonks in this town. There are even a couple in the Senate. They don't seem very influential. In part, that's because policy wonks are better at being right than making other people look wrong. Franken, however, is sort of professionally-skilled at making people who believe foolish things look foolish. That's a toolkit that would be pretty useful in this town. Sadly, I worry that instead of Al Franken, political satirist, we're going to get Al Franken, hardworking junior senator from Minnesota. The danger with Al Franken is not, as Amy Klobuchar sneered, that he'll act like a comedian. Rather, the danger with Al Franken is that he won't.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Craig Lassig.
July 6, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Is Barack Obama Really Mad at the People Pushing His Agenda?
Next: Think Tank: Because Your Life Needs More PDF Files
Posted by: JimPortlandOR | July 6, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: PoliticalPragmatist | July 6, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ElViajero1 | July 6, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tomveiltomveil | July 6, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: dganchor2002 | July 6, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: nylund | July 8, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.