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Minnesota Senate: Is Franken the Dems' Dream Candidate?

In a recent Senate Line, we said that comedian and soon-to-be-former radio show host Al Franken (D) would be a weak candidate if he decided to challenge Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman (R) in 2008.

Al Franken
Is comedian Al Franken the right candidate to win back Paul Wellstone's Senate seat for the Democrats? (AP file photo)

The reaction from Fix fanatics was vast and swift. "Franken is probably more versed on all the political issues of the day than most politicians," said one poster; "the comment you made in regards to Al Franken not having enough political experience to defeat Norm Coleman is so absurd," wrote another.

The Fix prides itself on its attentiveness to the interests and opinions of its readers, so I thought it would be worthwhile to embark on a more thorough analysis of Franken's strengths and weaknesses as a candidate -- especially as he now appears set to run.

Let's start with Franken's strengths. Unlike an average first-time politician, Franken would have little trouble gaining the name recognition or raising the money necessary to compete with the well-funded Coleman ($1.8 million on hand at the end of 2006). He also has significant personal wealth, which he could bring to bear on the race.

Although Franken is of the celebrity culture, it won't be easy to dismiss him as a carpetbagger. He is a Minnesota native and moved his family and radio show back in preparation for a potential run against Coleman. He has spent the past year laying the groundwork -- attending local and state Democratic gatherings, huddling with members of the Minnesota congressional delegation to seek their advice, and doling out campaign cash through his Midwest Values political action committee. At the end of 2006, Midwest Values, which was established in 2005, had raised better than $1 million and donated more than $200,000 to federal candidates and PACs.

His time as a comedian and radio show host has shown Franken to be bright, curious and a quick thinker on his feet -- all traits that could accrue to his benefit in a political race. And, as one Republican who has done work in the state recently argued to The Fix, Franken's profile is in line with other populist iconoclasts who have achieved political success in Minnesota. Remember this is the state that elected Paul Wellstone -- a former college professor and unapologetic liberal -- to the Senate and Jesse Ventura -- a former pro wrestler -- as its governor. In a way, Franken fits neatly into that mold and has the potential to play on Minnesota voters' demonstrated desire to elect atypical politicians.

Given all of that, should Coleman be quaking in his loafers? Not so fast.

Franken does bring considerable and unorthodox strengths as a candidate, but he also has considerable weaknesses.

First and foremost, he has said and written a lot of things -- all of which will be mined by Republicans. A recent press release from the National Republican Senatorial Committee previewed what Franken can expect if he decides to be a candidate. Entitled "Frankly Franken" the release lists a series of Franken's quotes on the roots of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks ("In an odd way, I blame Linda Tripp and Ann Coulter for Sept. 11, because if they hadn't dug this stuff up, it may not have happened"), gay rights ("I just don't like homosexuals") and his interest in seeking public office ("If I took one vote away from a serious candidate, it would be a sin").

Of course, these comments can be dismissed as either satiric or simply out of context. But in a Senate campaign where most of the communicating will be done through 30-second television ads, Franken's past remarks on issues of the day could damage his credibility as a candidate.

Franken's penchant for controversial remarks will be twinned with his connections in Hollywood to paint him as a liberal who is out of step with the average Minnesota voter. Republicans were already quick to point out that people like Barbra Streisand and Larry David had donated to Franken's Midwest Values PAC.

A fundraising letter sent by Coleman echoes that idea. "One of my potential opponents is comedian Al Franken but there's nothing funny about his venomous 'Air America' liberal radio show, his high-powered and deep-pocketed Hollywood friends, his national network of Bush-haters or the magnitude of his personal wealth," Coleman wrote.

For his part, Franken embraces the "liberal" moniker and insists Republicans have twisted it to mean something negative, which it should not. That argument may find fertile soil in Minnesota in 2008, but a look at exit polling in 2006 still suggests that most of the state's voters do not identify themselves as liberals; just 25 percent called themselves "liberal" while 30 percent said they were "conservative" and 46 percent chose "moderate."

All in all, it's tough to tell how a Franken candidacy would play. His strengths (name identification, personal wealth, populist message) seem balanced by his weaknesses (controversial public comments, ease of being branded a liberal). Whether Franken flies or flops likely depends more on the field of candidates against whom he runs and what the political environment looks like next year.

Wealthy trial lawyer Mike Ciresi is giving the race a good look and could match Franken dollar for dollar in a primary. If Ciresi chooses not to run, Franken's path to the nomination is somewhat clearer. If he becomes the nominee and the political climate in Minnesota is like it was in 2006, he has a real chance of winning no matter what Coleman and his allies do.

If the environment is less favorable to Democrats, however, Franken could struggle as Coleman might be able to turn the race into a referendum on the comedian rather than the Bush administration and the Republican agenda.

And don't overlook the fact that Minnesota has been moving closer and closer to swing-state status in recent presidential elections. The fact that Republicans will hold their national convention in Minnesota next year means the party will be focusing heavily on winning its electoral votes, an additional boon to Coleman's reelection campaign.

What do you think? Does Franken have a chance? The comments section below awaits your wisdom.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 5, 2007; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

I don't see how being labeled a liberal would be a liability when the gap between Minnesotans who consider themselves conservative vs. liberal is a mere 5 points. How many times and how hard and relentlessly did Boschwitz, Coleman, and the GOP paint Wellstone as a liberal? Embarrassingly liberal? More liberal than Ted Kennedy? Go ask Boschwitz how well that worked. The word liberal does not produce a visceral reaction of horror in Minnesotans. They knew Wellstone was a liberal, and they elected him twice (and would have a 3rd had he not died). Franken isn't even as liberal as Wellstone. This is being overblown as a potential Franken weakness.

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Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | February 16, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: sxecgainr yjsnk | February 15, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Al Franken is a satirist, but he's sincere. He's unafraid to show his feelings or to tell the truth as he sees it. Those qualities--his humanness and his honesty--will get across to midwestern voters. They'll understand that what drives Franken's satire is compassion and a selfless desire to do good. If the Right unleashes a smear campaign based on Franken's reams of off-the-cuff remarks and satiric political jibes, watch for it to backfire. People "get it."

Posted by: Will Cooper | February 14, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Franken would make a poor senator. He is divisive and condescending. How is it that we struggle with the OReillys and Coulters of the world but have no trouble with mean spirited debate when we agree with it?

And please stop equating Franken to Wellstone.

Posted by: tired liberal | February 8, 2007 7:37 AM | Report abuse

One question about Norm Coleman, what is he doing representing Minnesota when his family doesn't even live in Minnesota? I do not like Norm Coleman, I did not appreciate his comments about him being better than Paul Wellstone and I think he wasn't very respectful during the death of Paul Wellstone. Norm Coleman should not be in the Senate because Paul Wellstone would have won and it wasn't fair I think to have an election when Wellstone died one week before the election. Norm Coleman to me got in by accident.
As for Al Franken, I don't know. I love his books, he is a fantastic writer. I don't know who the Democrats have to run. I've talked to a couple of people who believe Alan Page should run and I think that would be awesome.

Posted by: Josh Christensen | February 8, 2007 12:57 AM | Report abuse

It's been interesting watching the debate on what we perceive as humor or attack.

The reality is that some people are objective and see humor for humor's sake. Those more firmly on either side of the political spectrum are more likely to have blinders on than those in the middle.

But, it is a little like that line about being paranoid. Just because you are, doesn't mean that there isn't somebody out to get you.

There are people on both sides who use humor to mask what is actually a political attack. And some can be very vile. As long as those people can do that, both sides will continue to believe that they are correct in how they fell about the subject humor.

Personally, I found Franken's comments from 30 years ago a little bit funny as the riff developed. If Limbaugh had delivered them in the same context, I would have chuckled the same way.

I find it ironic that while Sen. Biden is being excoriated for referring to Sen. Obama as "articulate;" Pres. Bush used the exact same term for Sen. Obama on the same day and hardly a word is said. Of course, the President is the first to admit that he's not quite articulate himself.

Context also matters - a lot.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | February 7, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

"This isn't about whether liberals and conservatives are or are not bigoted. This is about being able to understand when someone is saying something they don't believe. You refuse to recognize the many signs that Al Franken was joking: he was a comedian talking about a comedy skit, he hasn't done anything else to imply that he's anti-gay, etc. I admit that the difference between making a joke and jokingly revealing a real opinion is subtle. But unless you can give me some actual reason to believe that Al Franken is anti-gay, the evidence that he was just joking is overwhelming."

No, I'm saying that:

1) it doesn't matter whether he was joking or not;

2) you cannot in fact know what his real opinions are;

3) your perception of his opinions are necessarily colored by whether or not you like and agree with him (my opinions of Mr. Franken may be quite different from yours);

4) we, as a society, jump all over people for saying certain things because we believe them to be harmful and offensive - whether or not the person saying them intended them to be so.

You've said over and over that: 1) he was just joking, and 2) he didn't mean it. It's pretty clear from what you've said that you wouldn't accept either defense from someone you disagreed with politically and socially. That's a classic double standard - and you need to be called on it.

Posted by: Demos | February 7, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

"Now turn it around: Any jokes from Rush Limbaugh about Newt Gingrich asking his wife for a divorce while she lay in a hospital bed recovering from cancer? I don't know for certain what the answer is, but I can feel pretty safe in saying no. So who is the hypocrite?"

Not me - that was reprehensible. Many conservatives condemned that. You may not have noticed, but conservatives really do eat their own over moral shortcomings. Conservatives dropped Packwood like a hot rock once it became evident that the allegations against him were well founded. Most liberals (at least, those not named "Lieberman") were unwilling to do the same with Clinton.

But that's aside from the point. Either joking about gays is socially acceptable, or it's not. The position that "well, it depends on who's telling the joke - a liberal or a conservative" is not morally tenable.

Posted by: Demos | February 7, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Al Franken is smarter and quicker than Norm Coleman. Having seen Franken's film, listened to his radio show and seen him speak publicly several times, I'm convinced he could whip Norm Coleman without breaking a sweat.

On the other hand, Watching Norm Coleman try to hold hearings on the Oil For Food scandal was painful at best. He's a procedural bore, and not very eloquent at all. Not to mention his arguments for most of his positions consist of hiding behind the administration's skirt.

This is a matchup I'd love to see, encapsulated by Franken's laugh line: He's the only New York Jew in the race who's actually from Minnesota.

Good Luck Norm, we're not rooting for you.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 7, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Chris - you failed to mention that Franken has served on quite a few USO tours in recent years. This is definitely worth mentioning in the context of a senate run.

Posted by: 1missing_fact | February 7, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I saw Al Franken speak at a fundraiser for Midwest Values PAC last year in San Francisco and he was, unfortunately, a terrible letdown. His "stump" speech was halting, his delivery was painful, and his responses to audience questions were downright awful. At one point, he disagreed with an African American audience member over whether Thomas Jefferson was a rapist for having sex with a slave.

I hope his campaign skills improve dramatically, because if he couldn't handle a room full of SF liberals, I don't know how he's going to survive a hotly contested US Senate race..

Posted by: David SF | February 6, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

"If the Dems don't nominate Franken, and nominate Betty McCallum or Mike Ciresi, or practically anyone without baggage, then I think the Dems will take this seat by a similar margin that Klobuchar did."

Yes, Betty is great, but Mike Ciresi has ZERO experience, never held an elected office in Minnesota or elsewhere...if you don't want Franken, fine, but there's got to be someone better than Ciresi. I mean, he's a great guy, just not a good candidate.

http://www.rkmc.com/Michael_Ciresi.htm

Posted by: MN Law Grad | February 6, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

"All Norm Coleman needs to do is run clips of Franken in "Trading Places." Is THIS the man you really want as your Senator??"

Let's see, what Republican show-biz types have ever been elected to office...Hmmm....

Ronald Reagan ... "Bedtime for Bonzo"
Arnold Schwarzenegger ... "Twins"
Fred Grandy .. "The Love Boat"
Sonny Bono ... "Airplane II: The Sequel"
George Murphy ... "Little Miss Broadway" (opposite Shirley Temple)
Heck, Shirley Temple ... ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia (appointed, but you get the idea)

That's just off the top of my head. And at least "Trading Places" was good, as opposed to some of the above...

Posted by: Tom | February 6, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

That's the first time I've ever heard anyone suggest Lott was joking. Lott's defenders said that he was misinterpreted, or that he was just being nice. But I've never heard the suggestion that he praised Thurman's 1948 presidential campaign as a joke.

Posted by: Blarg | February 6, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

How is Franken's "joke" about gays different than Lott's joke about things being better if Thurmon won the Presidency in 1948? Everyone knew Lott was joking, but he still lost his post over it.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 6, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

All Al Franken needs to do is run clips of Bush in "Mission Accomplished." Is THIS the party you really want to produce your next Senator??

Posted by: meuphys | February 6, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

All Norm Coleman needs to do is run clips of Franken in "Trading Places." Is THIS the man you really want as your Senator??

Posted by: LoL | February 6, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I live in Minnesota and heard Franken speak at a DFL function. I was very skeptical of him and was expecting a SNL type speech. Instead if was a very thoughtful talk exploring his Minnesota roots and values. If this is the approach Franken continues to take -- he will be a very formidable opponent to Coleman. I think he has a very good chance of connecting with the voters.

Posted by: jose | February 6, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Max, I asked you guys to lay off William.

We teach that the Republican Party was founded in 1964. He is not allowed to read any history prior to that. To him a "Rockefeller" is that Democrat Senator from West Virginia, and we want to keep it that way, so as not to muddle his thought process.

He is doing splendidly in class and with his extracurricular activities, so please just butt out in trying to confuse him with the facts.

p.s. I have a GOLDWATER FOR HALLOWEEN bumper sticker which I intend to award him at graduation. So far, he is very deserving of it.

Posted by: B. Jones | February 6, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

It is unfortunate that, in the process of talking about how Republicans are likely to use Mr. Franken's words against him, Mr. Cillizza unintentionally helps them do precisely that.

Yes, Mr. Franken is unabashedly a liberal, and yes, he does have the support of Barbara Striesand. But since when did being a liberal- or having the support of a prominent liberal who has led a worthwhile and blameless life- become a political liability? And as opposed to what?

By suggesting that people might not vote for him because of this, Nr. Cillizza has (however inadvertently) helped perpetuate the Orwellian trick of turning the very identifing name of the Republicans' political opponents into a nebulous (and therefore difficult-to-refute) insult.

Moreover, if Mr. Cillizza is afraid that Mr. Franken might be condemned for writing such things as "I just don't like homosexuals"; instead of merely mentioning that he may have written those words as a form of ironic parody, doesn't he have a responsibility to actually FIND OUT?

As it happens, Franken spoke those words while pretending to insult his former colleagues at Harvard in his student days. And yes, he was indeed being jokingly ironic. Unfortunately Mr. Cillizza did not bother to check, even though a half-minute Google search would have given him a definitive answer. Instead, he helped sow seeds of doubt by pretending that there might actually be any credibility to the nonsensical notion of Al Franken as a homophobe.

In short, Mr. Cillizza is doing a wonderful job of echoing the Republican lie-machine that Mr. Franken spoke of in his book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them". It would be a shame if this resulted in the defeat of yet another worthy and intelligent Democratic candidate.

Posted by: Michael English | February 6, 2007 2:19 AM | Report abuse

You basically got it right on Franken's positives. His job is such that he must be well-informed on political issues, and his interest in Coleman's seat has caused him to educate hiimself in issues of policy.

Also, and not to beat the sharp thing into the ground, he is a Harvard honor grad. He's clearly someone with whom an opponent mush reckon intellecutally, and making him out to be just another celebrity is pretty unfair. He brings some obvious negatives as a campaigner, but I don't think it makes a lot of sense to attack him on the grounds of qualifications.

Posted by: Geoffrey D.K. | February 6, 2007 2:11 AM | Report abuse

Seeing as how California elected a governor whose main qualification was being able to lift heavy objects, I think a long time political commentator has a chance. Still, can someone somewhere please poll this race so we can stop all of this talk and actually learn whether he is electable?

Posted by: Abraham | February 6, 2007 12:03 AM | Report abuse

I personally think he is funny and obviously smart, but I have a friend that worked with Franken 10 or so years ago and he made several advances towards her that would qualify as sexual harrassment. Based on her experience, I suspect this isn't an isolated incident in his past. He also obviously hasn't been managing his public comments like a politician until relatively recently...fortunately for the Democratic party, all this would probably make him vulnerable to any savvy candidate in a primary race and not ruin an opportunity for the party to pick up another seat.

Posted by: Sticky | February 5, 2007 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to reply to a couple of especially ridiculous comments made her today. William on the subject of unelectability: "Yes, I know a lot of liberals and Dems on here like Franken. You probably like Howard Dean and Russ Feingold too." Indeed I am a fan of the 5-term governor and 3-term senator you mention (if only either had such an unblemished electoral record as that eminently electable future President, George Allen). I also think highly, William, of your sweeping and data-less assertions that the country overwhelmingly views Franken as a goof (are there ANY numbers about how Americans -- or Minnesotans -- view AF?) and that those crazy radical senators, Clinton and Obama, are certain to blow their shots at the White House (despite both being brilliant politicians). Allow me to make a sweeping assertion of my own: the single most unelectable serious presidential candidate is McCain. The difference between my assertion and yours? Numbers -- polls show McCain going down against Clinton, Obama or Edwards; his national Rasmussen approval rating dropped from 59% to 52% in the course of one or two months (I forget which); he supports the escalation plan that the rest of the country considers nuts.

Another great conservative mind: "It's all well and good to argue that "liberal" should be defined differently, but those Democrats (and others) who call themselves liberals have had a pretty consistent political philosophy and program for 50 years or so."

50 years ago... 1957? Liberal senators like Paul Douglas, Herbert Lehman, JFK and LBJ? Activists like Martin Luther King, Jr.? Yeah, what a bunch of douches. Do you know anything whatsoever about recent U.S. history? 50 years ago, liberals were working to desegregate the South. When they finally succeeded (under President Johnson in '64 and '65), the "Solid South" (solidly Democratic) mysteriously started voting Republican.

I'll point out that no thinking individual would blindly accuse all conservatives of bigotry; it's transparently untrue. It is transparently true, however, that central to the political philosophy of liberalism is opposition to intolerance; and that conservatism has taken the opposite stance an unfortunate number of times in American history. (Please note, I am NOT equating liberalism with the Democratic party and conservatism with the GOP; that's the case today, but it hasn't always been. Obviously the GOP was where to be in the 1860's, so please don't bother to point it out. The parties were split in terms of having acceptable positions regarding segregation in the '40's, '50's, '60's, but Truman was the pre-Johnson president to make efforts at desegregation; Eisenhower was useless in that regard; and it was a Democratic president and congress that ultimately brought an end to Jim Crow).

Posted by: Max | February 5, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

If the troop "surge" in Iraq fails to turn around that awful situation, the Democrats could nominate GARY Coleman, and he'd still beat Norm. Coleman knows this, and it's one reason why he broke with Bush and denounced the surge on the Senate floor.

Otherwise, I don't see Franken beating Coleman. It's true that the state has elected some offbeat candidates. But live wires like Wellstone and Ventura had a real populist authenticity to them. Minnesotans reelected Wellstone in 1996 even though he was the only senator up for reelection that year to vote against welfare "reform." The voters reelected him, because they valued his authenticity more than the position on welfare reform.

I don't see that kind of grounded populist authenticity from Franken. His heart may be in the right place, but there's something very elitist about him that probably won't fly among prairie populists.

Posted by: TheJoker | February 5, 2007 7:08 PM | Report abuse

I actually agree with zouk, Meuphys. I dont think he has the slightest clue what he's talking about. I saw a cspan 'road to the whitehouse' showing of his appearance in NH and it just confirmed that. Someone asked what he would do to counter Bush's environmental policy and he said he would roll them all back without naming one specific thing. He clearly has very little agenda. I like his two America's thing, but he is all talk, no substance.

Posted by: F&B | February 5, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

william says: "I'm glad I live in a state where violent criminals are put to death. Sometimes, we even find out what time the execution will be, have a countdown, and at 00, we celebrate :)"

-i bet you play a drinking game or sth. oh, those crazy college days! meanwhile, if you hadn't cut that day's sociology class, you would know that the imposition of the death penalty is historically racially biased (not that you would seem to care) and in many cases those who have been executed have been later found either to have been innocent or to have been the victims of trials in which the defense attorney fell asleep, defense evidence was either compromised or "lost," and so on. either today or yesterday (don't remember) i read of Gary Tyler, a black man STILL on death row in louisiana who was convicted on laughably bad evidence as a boy... he was on a parked school bus surrounded by a white mob, a gun went off, and one of the mob fell dead. despite there being no evidence of his guilt - indeed, despite each of the "witnesses" (students on the bus) EACH later saying they had been coerced by the police into testifying, and despite the "murder weapon" having come from a state police firing range - it made one appearance, and was conveniently "lost" following the trial - the boy was railroaded through the trial and sentenced to death. apparently, when questioned he "talked back" to a cop, and instantly became the fall guy. would you drink to that? you are one sick puppy.

and zouk says, in relation to global warming:
"buh-bye, science. nice knowing ya."
-no, your majesty. that's your side that sneers at science... the science accepted by the educated world which explains the consequences of our reliance on carbon based fuels.

he also says:

"No one wants to talk about what a complete and utter flop John Edwards was on Meet the Press?"

-that's a matter of opinion. you will forgive me if i don't assign yours the same weight i do those coming from someone who thinks before speaking.

"It is beginning to look like Hillary is inevitable."

-did you forget obama, your majesty?

"Which means Rudy wins in a walk. hooray."

-you are familiar with rudy's positions on social issues, aren't you? and that will play how in the red states? anyway, all the polls i have seen don't back you up.

Posted by: meuphys | February 5, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

>>>The Fix prides itself on its attentiveness to the interests and opinions of its readers

How DARE you say that. You are just an a$$. You really are.

Not only that but your analysis is ALWAYS wrong. It's a travesty that you get paid for this screed.

As for Franken, experience or not, he GETS it. As in, America is SICK AND TIRED of this BS war. Sick and tired of this BS President. Sick and tired of the Right Wing doing all it can to destroy this country.

Al gets it. YOU don't get it Chris b/c you are a right wing shill. The Right Wing politicians don't get it b/c they are greedy immoral bastards. Norm Coleman doesn't get it b/c he has voted for everything GOP despite his modicum of moderation in style. The people of MN get it b/c they are tired of the crap you have to do to raise a family in a country with NO middle class and a budget that looks like it is written exclusively for the Rich and the Military Industrial Complex.

And I'm watching cspan live now as the GOP blocks debate on bills about the Iraq Surge with a FILLIBUSTER... While our troops are FRIGGIN DYING LEFT AND RIGHT.

Pathetic pathetic pathetic pathetic pathetic pathetic pathetic pathetic pathetic pathetic pathetic pathetic pathetic.

Shame shame shame.

Posted by: F&B | February 5, 2007 6:10 PM | Report abuse

"People used to ask me about [coke use] and I'd always say, "No, there was no coke. It's impossible to do the kind of show we were doing and do drugs." And so that was just a funny lie that I liked to tell. Kind of the opposite was true, unfortuntely--for some people, it was impossible to do [SNL] without the drugs. Comedians and comedy writers and people in show business in general aren't the most disciplined people, so the idea of putting the writing off until you had to, and then staying up all night, was an attractive one. And then having this drug that kept you awake in an enjoyable way was kind of tempting too. But I only did cocaine to stay awake to make sure nobody else did too much cocaine. That was the only reason I ever did it. Heh-heh."

Al Frankin
Pp. 108-09
"Live from New York" by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller

Posted by: Hokie | February 5, 2007 6:01 PM | Report abuse

I have always hoped that Garrison Keillor would run for something in Minnesota. Maybe he could run for the U.S. Senate. He has said far fewer things which could be twisted the wrong way than has Franken. I like Al Franken, but I do think the opposition would do everything it could to smear him.

Posted by: jrsposter | February 5, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

do any of you need additional evidence that Joe Biden is a motor mouth? shall I consult the slurpee crowd at the Indian-only 7-11. how about if I can manage to find a single articulate and clean black?

Let's discuss the evidence that John Edwards is going to raise taxes a lot and will follow the Jimmy peanut school of foreign policy - lose/lose.

How about the idea that Hillary will say and do anything it takes to get elected and remain in power - remember the first clinton years - a scandel a day keeps the reporter busy typing.

And yet you try to equate killing a girl who you were hoping to shag after drinking too many with a personal issue with divorce. Logical???

I clearly see that you Libs still have no sense of proportion or morality. cheating with an intern in the oval office while talking on the phone is the same as running around on your wife in full view of the entire city. but I always thought you Libs admired cheaters because they are so enlightened and unencumbered. Isn't that what the Feminsit movement wanted, swingers in every direction with no strings attached?

Posted by: kingofzouk | February 5, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

How could you not criticize Kennedy and maintain a straight face? but according to you there are some out there that think it was admirable what he did? you have wandered far from the reservation kimmosavee.

Posted by: kingofzouk | February 5, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Demos:
"We tend to attribute good motives to people we like and agree with, and evil motives to people we dislike and disagree with. What's worse, we're generally unable to see that we're doing it."

Leaving aside what a wild overgeneralization that is, it's simply not true. Some things are inexcusable; for instance, in his book "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations," Al Franken made a fairly nasty crack about Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick. I don't have the book in front of me, so I won't try to paraphrase, but it can be easily looked up. If your premise is true, then no liberal (and I'm only using the phrase because you did, what a meaningless word nowadays...) would ever criticize Kennedy for his behavior at Chappaquiddick, and yet Franken does, in black and white. Now turn it around: Any jokes from Rush Limbaugh about Newt Gingrich asking his wife for a divorce while she lay in a hospital bed recovering from cancer? I don't know for certain what the answer is, but I can feel pretty safe in saying no. So who is the hypocrite?

Posted by: Tom | February 5, 2007 5:24 PM | Report abuse

William -- still looking for that new testament passage that justifies killing people to save property. I noticed you didn't answer me the last time I requested it. Very Christian perspective.

Also, anything in there about how you should love they neighbor unless they are an "illegal" or aren't white?

Posted by: Colin | February 5, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Okay, let's make it more general:

Mr. Smith is a commentator who discusses political issues. His views are generally consistent with one end of the political ideological spectrum. Mr. Smith often uses comedy to help him make his point. One day, you hear that Mr. Smith gave a very strange stance on an issue, something that goes against all of the beliefs he's expressed in the past.

One of two things is true:
1. On this issue, Mr. Smith believes the exact opposite of what you'd expect him to believe, and he doesn't think that conflicts with the rest of his beliefs.
2. Mr. Smith is stating something he does not agree with, because he knows that his audience will be amused by it.

It doesn't matter whether he's a liberal saying that he hates homosexuals or a conservative saying he wants the government to raise taxes. In all likelihood, the second situation is true, and Mr. Smith is joking. If you know nothing about him but the quote, you might not realize he's joking. But once you know the context (other things he's said, and the fact that he is a humorist), you know that he's not expressing his true beliefs, and you can't attack him for what he said.

This isn't about whether liberals and conservatives are or are not bigoted. This is about being able to understand when someone is saying something they don't believe. You refuse to recognize the many signs that Al Franken was joking: he was a comedian talking about a comedy skit, he hasn't done anything else to imply that he's anti-gay, etc. I admit that the difference between making a joke and jokingly revealing a real opinion is subtle. But unless you can give me some actual reason to believe that Al Franken is anti-gay, the evidence that he was just joking is overwhelming.

Posted by: Blarg | February 5, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

"EWWW. You read the NY Times? Shame on you."

Good boy, William! You tell those Commie pinkos.

I don't ever want to see you thinking for yourself, either.

Posted by: Bob (Jones) | February 5, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

The folks trashing Franken really don't understand Minnesota politics. Also, WILLIAM, labeling Feingold as "too liberal" is a super liberal is a pretty interesting fact given the way he wins consistently in a swing state. Mercifully, most people don't self-identify in ideological terms. And I say mercifully because the last thing the country needs today is more people who place a hard and fast ideology above solving the very real challenges that the country faces.

My prediction? Franken runs and wins, unless McCollum or Waltz reconsider and run. If they do, I suspect Al will get out of the race anyway since they'd both make fantastic (and liberal) Senators in their own right. Norm Coleman has never been a good fit for the state.

Posted by: Colin | February 5, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Al "Screech" Franken is a Republican candidate's dream Democrat candidate. Republicans should be anything, including sacrificing chickens and goats, to get Al Franken to run. He (Franken) is one of the most offensive individuals in the country, and would easily take that title as a political candidate. Run, Al, run!

Screech

Posted by: Screech | February 5, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"You talk about executiving and murdering people constantly"

Yeah...horrible criminals.

And when criminals are killed, it's called execution, not murder.

Evil criminals like rapists, murderers, child molesters, etc deserve to pay the ultimate price.

As for intruders, if they break into my house, I have the right (as anyone intelligent would) to assume they are there to harm my loved ones, so yes, I will shoot them.

And according to the laws of my state, under Castle Doctrine, I have the right to shoot intruders, and assume they are there to harm my loved ones

Posted by: William | February 5, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

"If Rush Limbaugh said that he hated gays, then I'd believe him, based on everything else I know about Rush Limbaugh. If Al Franken said it, I'd think he was joking, based on everything else I know about Al Franken. That's not a double standard, it's context. Now, if Al Franken kept joking that he hated gays, or if he said it in a way that made it obvious he wasn't joking, that would be a different story. "

No, I don't think that's context at all - that's judging people's motives, which is one of the trickiest things in the world to do. We tend to attribute good motives to people we like and agree with, and evil motives to people we dislike and disagree with. What's worse, we're generally unable to see that we're doing it.

Try a thought experiment. Take two comics - one supports gay marriage, and the other does not (due to religious belief, or whatever). Let's assume the second has no hatred for homosexuals and no desire to harm or demean them - he or she simply doesn't believe homosexual unions should be described as "marriages" (this is not an uncommon point of view).

Both may tell exactly the same joke - let's stipulate that they use Franken's words, expressions, gestures and tone of voice - for exactly the same professional reasons. Is it appropriate in both cases? Again, if not, why not? Do I really have to agree with someone to be able to use them in a joke?

"Have you ever watched "The Colbert Report"? Stephen Colbert says all kinds of crazy things. But he's a comedian, and he's doing a comedy show, so there's no reason to think he believes any of that."

This is exactly my point. You assume that Stephen Colbert doesn't believe any of this. But with a conservative, you would assume that they were in fact bigoted. Help me here - am I mistaken about that?

I'm going to suggest that it is not correct to automatically assume that liberals are not bigoted, and that conservatives are. I'm also going to suggest that it's neither correct nor fair to judge the appropriateness of a joke based on our presumptions about a persons motives. If it were, then when a woman complains to the EEOC about the jokes made by men in her workplace, it would be a valid defense for the men to say "we were just joking . . . we didn't mean it . . . we're not bigoted." That ain't gonna fly.

Posted by: Demos | February 5, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

"Aha! So it is Sahl across and Seamen down in yesterday's Times crossword. Didn't know if it was Sahl or Dahl. Thanks, I get a clue serendipitously without actually having to cheat."

EWWW. You read the NY Times? Shame on you.

Posted by: William | February 5, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Al Franken is passe. He was ultra-cool in 2003, up like a rocket down like a stick.

Nobody likes attackers any more. Dems should have attacked more during all those years when Repubs were attack dogs. During Al Franken's time, finally Dems did start to attack. But everyone is now sick of it from both sides and people want to hear the voice of reason. Yelling at people in a funny way does not stand the test of time as a crowd pleaser.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm looking forward to the Al Franken run. There has been a sense, in liberal circles, since the Dukakis candidacy, that the problem has been no one who has sufficient access to the media has been willing to honestly own up to being a liberal and to defend liberal positions. So the Republican accusation of "liberal" goes unanswered. Finally, we'll see if it works when someone fights back in a swing state. Whether or not Franken wins, he will settle this question.

Posted by: Jon Webb | February 5, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

"Mort Sahl was a very funny man for a few years. "

Aha! So it is Sahl across and Seamen down in yesterday's Times crossword. Didn't know if it was Sahl or Dahl. Thanks, I get a clue serendipitously without actually having to cheat.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

If Rush Limbaugh said that he hated gays, then I'd believe him, based on everything else I know about Rush Limbaugh. If Al Franken said it, I'd think he was joking, based on everything else I know about Al Franken. That's not a double standard, it's context. Now, if Al Franken kept joking that he hated gays, or if he said it in a way that made it obvious he wasn't joking, that would be a different story.

Have you ever watched "The Colbert Report"? Stephen Colbert says all kinds of crazy things. But he's a comedian, and he's doing a comedy show, so there's no reason to think he believes any of that. When he does a serious interview and talks about the same things in a serious way, then there's evidence that it's how he really feels. Again, the issue is context.

Posted by: Blarg | February 5, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

mr. franken is neither certain to win or certain to lose, based on what we know. he has $ and some name recognition. he is thought to be both liberal and wacky, that can work against him and for him in a funny way. when people saw jesse ventura in three way debates with a stock democrat and a stock republican, they expected a big silly doofus and instead he sounded like the most reasonable, honest guy there.

people's low expectations of mr. franken may work to his advantage as well. they will expect someone wacky and outrageous and the fact that he is thoughtful and well-versed on the issues will move him up quickly in people's minds.

obviously, norm coleman, who is one of the dirtiest, most insincere people in politics, both personally and in a campaign, will try to make al franken unelectable. we may see if it works.

we can all think fo the perfect candidate on paper, but it remains to be seen if that person will appear.

Posted by: st paul sage | February 5, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

As a native Minnesotan and one who visits frequently and tries to stay in touch with what is going on there - Franken can win this race - he may not be the strongest candidate and he may win by narrow margin, but Coleman should never have won the race in 2002 - it was the unfortunate memorial service that handed him the election and Minnesotans have regretted it ever since. AS long as Democratic Party puts up someone who reasonable intelligent and can put together a coherent sentence, Coleman cannot win this election. The Democrats are going to run a smart campaign and will take back this seat. Minnesotans are willing to give something different a try - Ventura, for example - and Pawlenty (the difference being that Ventura did nothing and Pawlenty has) - but without any follow-through, they will go right back to their Democratic roots. Coleman has not done anything for the state and with his strong ties to Bush (and now his trying to distance himself) - all of this will be remembered and he will be shown the door. Wellstone may have been an 'unapologetic' Democrat, but he was certainly more in tune with Minnesotans than Coleman ever will be.

Posted by: star11 | February 5, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Minnesota went strongly Democratic at all levels in '06 apart from the narrow reelection of a popular incumbent Republican governor. The wind will still be blowing in that direction in '08. Add to that Al Franken's money, name recognition, and razor-sharp wit and he looks to be a formidable Senate candidate, especially against Norm Coleman who defended Bush's ill-fated war a bit too long before adding that issue to his growing list of straddles and flip-flops. But to win, Franken needs to be more than a Twin Cities-based media candidate. He needs to take a page out of Paul Wellstone's playbook, get out of the Cities and spend the next two years listening and cultivating personal ties to voters in the small towns and rural areas of Greater Minnesota. It was there that Paul came to understand and give voice to the needs of everyday Minnesotans; there that he came to be trusted and respected even by those who disagreed with his left-liberal ideology. The Cities-dominated DFL too often forgets this "other" Minnesota, at its peril. If Franken is just a media candidate, or just a Twin Cities Metro candidate, he'll be too easily caricatured, and he'll fail. But if he does enough Iowa caucus-style, retail-level, face-to-face campaigning to earn the trust and respect of ordinary Minnesotans, he can claw out those crucial pockets of support in Greater Minnesota as Wellstone did, and he'll prevail. And he'll be a better Senator for it.

Posted by: Brad K | February 5, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

'WASHINGTON - New revelations have emerged about how tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted in Iraq. A new report by government watchdogs singles out a big American contractor -- Parsons -- for shoddy work. Investigators charge that Parsons managed to turn a flagship project to help train Iraqi police into a hall of horrors using taxpayer money.

The Baghdad Police Academy was supposed to be a showcase to train Iraqi police -- key to the U.S. strategy.

Instead, Wednesday's report says the American construction company turned it into a disaster from the start: incomplete and substandard designs, shoddy construction and no real quality control.

"This is the worst project that my inspectors have visited," says Stuart Bowen, inspector general for Iraq.'

Posted by: the glories of privatization | February 5, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely Franken stands a chance. I went to college in MN, and Wellstone had been a heavy underdog at first, especially since Boschwitz had 7 times Wellstone's cash. MN has a tradition of electing mavericks and off-beat candidates. Franken would make a good senator. The biggest impediment will be if the overall climate in the state is Republican.

Posted by: Batocchio | February 5, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

well, you're right about that, dan. we aren't at war. the president did say in that mission accomplished speech that hostilities were ended... and he would never lie.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

iran is coming ... hide under the bed...

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Actually the debate is still out on the definition of "Declaration of War". Can a declaration of war exist without use of the word "Declaration" and "War". The Constitution doesn't specify. Lacking such a specifiction, the "Authorization for the use of force in Iraq" sufficiently passes legal measure of "Congress shall have the power to ... declare War".

Congress did so.
The military went in and did a superb job.
Then the war ended. "Mission Accomplished"

Let me say the again... The war ENDED. The president said so.

On a side note, that means we are not technically at war, which means that any statement by the president to conduct operations derived from the fact that we are at war are invalid.

Posted by: DanW | February 5, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

"Basically, when a comedian says something and then laughs, it's safe to assume that it's a joke."

That's not good enough. Most offensive jokes about women, minorities, foreigners, etc. have been followed by immediate and heartfelt laughter. If that's all it takes to immunize someone from charges of being insensitive, offensive, or bigoted, then the EEOC would effectively go out of business.

"When Al Franken says on his radio show that the homosexual agenda is ruining this country (and isn't parodying Falwell or someone), then I'll believe he's anti-gay. When he tells a student newspaper that everyone who dislikes his comedy is gay, then laughs, I'll believe that he's joking."

It really doesn't matter whether you believe he's anti-gay, pro-gay, or gay-agnostic. It really doesn't matter if he's joking. If Rush Limbaugh said exactly the same thing, with the same facial expressions and tone of voice, then people would flip out. Let's assume he would really be just joking, and that he'd laugh after saying it. It wouldn't help. If Jimmy Carter said it, it wouldn't help.

I think you're looking at something other than whether it's a "joke," and whether or not he laughed. Listening to you, it seems pretty clear that you have a double standard based on your perception of whether or not the comic is bigoted.

"Compare it to what Michael Richards did. He made racist comments about the hecklers, but he didn't then joke and say "I had you going, didn't I?" He was obviously serious."

Had Michael Richards had the presence of mind to hear what he had just said, and then turn around with a laugh and say ""I had you going, didn't I?" - would that have made it o.k.? Why?

Posted by: Demos | February 5, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse


Just this once, shouldn't we all take a step back and ask for proof before we rush off to another ill-planned F.U.B.A.R. of a war? Just this once, oughtn't we be skeptical of the very same pronouncements from the very same people who lied to us using the very same words the last time? Just this once, shouldn't we try every possible avenue -- including actually engaging in meaningful diplomacy -- before we send other peoples' children off to fight in a war of George Bush's choice?

Because the bottom line is this: do you trust George Bush to be making the correct decisions for this nation, based on his abysmal record of repeated failures, pathetic record of not planning for any and all contingencies, and the waste and fraud and rampant cronyism that gets attached to anything he and his Administration have touched? Yeah, me neither.

Contact your elected representatives now (the Capitol switchboard number is (202) 224-3121.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Oh no - bird flu and global warming and Y2K and population explosions and global cooling and DDT and red dye #2 and trans fat and second hand smoke and loaded guns and ...........
quick, hide under the bed.

the enviro religious zealots are becoming mainstream. buh bye science, nice knowing ya.

Posted by: kingofzouk | February 5, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

"William, while I agree that whoever posted that was over the line, I would guess they were joking, in a sadistic sort of fashion."

Drindl, this is actually a great example of what I was talking about earlier. We tend to give people a pass for "joking" based on whether or not we agree with them. (Understand now, I have no patience with white supremacy; it's dumb and offensive. Unfortunately, the world is full of things that are dumb and offensive, coming from both ends of the political spectrum.) William comes across as mean-spirited - so did the poster who attacked him. Franken strikes a lot of conservatives as mean-spirited.

I once read the following conjugation of an irregular English verb:

I am firm;
You are stubborn;
He is a pig-headed fool.

This is far too true. It may not be stretching it too far to suggest the following conjugation:

I am joking;
You are sarcastic;
He is an offensive bigot

Posted by: Demos | February 5, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Demos, whether or not I agree with him has nothing to do with it. It's obvious that Franken was joking from the context, which included him laughing and joking about being misquoted. Another part of the context is that he was a comedy writer discussing a comedy skit.

Basically, when a comedian says something and then laughs, it's safe to assume that it's a joke. Compare it to what Michael Richards did. He made racist comments about the hecklers, but he didn't then joke and say "I had you going, didn't I?" He was obviously serious. (Or doing some sort of Andy Kaufman-style meta-comedy, which absolutely nobody got.) When Al Franken says on his radio show that the homosexual agenda is ruining this country (and isn't parodying Falwell or someone), then I'll believe he's anti-gay. When he tells a student newspaper that everyone who dislikes his comedy is gay, then laughs, I'll believe that he's joking.

Posted by: Blarg | February 5, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

'UK Slaughtering 160,000 Turkeys To Contain H5N1 Bird Flu Outbreak'

Posted by: avian flu on the way... | February 5, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

William, you are going to have to learn to ignore certain posts if you are to survive here. there are many people who visit here who have a severly diminished capacity for humor, yet believe thay are hilarious - kinda like Al Franken. On the other hand, you can dish it out.....so you better learn to take it. Or stop dishing it out.

Posted by: kingofzouk | February 5, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

All:

As a native of ND, and having lived in Duluth for one miserable winter, I think the candidate the DFL puts up is less important than running the right campaign. Coleman is an accident, waiting to be had. Hell, he lost to Jesse Ventura for Gov, and was on his way to being crushed by Wellstone when the plane went down in the Iron Range.

Franken may not be the ideal candidate, but he can beat Coleman if he can stay on message.

William: who are you and what have you done with the clown who was posting under your name last week? Have you been reading my posts and learning something? LOL. Great original post. I agree with you, if they nominate Hilary or Obama and don't stick with the discipline that won them both houses in 2006, there is huge trouble in a year that by rights will be theirs.

M: Excellent points. Klobuchar was far from the best candidate the Dems put up last cycle, but she ran a very disciplined campaign and had the election put away by Labor Day. Pawlenty won only because a very slim plurality decided that he had done enough wrong to be fired.

Posted by: Steve (the other one) | February 5, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Al Franken could have some pretty good game, especially when he is forced to turn away almost entirely from acerbic quips and get into serious policy discussions. I'm afraid Al might find the vicissitudes of the campaign trail unpleasantly restrictive--he's great with the sarcasm and one-liners, but they often boomerang on a candidate in ways entertainers never anticipate. We'll just have to see how the campaign goes.

Norm Coleman isn't the kind of incumbent likely to be steamrollered by him, though, no matter how good he is at campaigning. Coleman is pretty dull, but he's not clumsy or gaffe-prone like George Allen or Conrad Burns.

Posted by: Iva Norma Stitts | February 5, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

William, while I agree that whoever posted that was over the line, I would guess they were joking, in a sadistic sort of fashion.

But most people here think you are a racist. You make these inflammatory comments constantly trashing anyone who isn't white. You describe in loving detail how you would like to murder intruders, and you list a number of possibilities, all of whom are -- brown or black.

You talk about executiving and murdering people constantly... you seem obssesed with it. You are the saddest excuse for a Christian I have ever observed.

How do you expect people to react?

Posted by: drindl | February 5, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I think a commedian campaigner would be a lot of fun to follow. In a lot of respects, he's a dream candidate. Money & name.

I think it'll be fun to follow and I don't think people will hold crazy past things against a satirist. John Yarmuth of Kentucky just got elected over a popular incumbent after writing WAY LEFT editorials in an alternative paper for decades. And that was in the south.

http://www.chml-srucnoc.net/pirate

Posted by: Srucnoc | February 5, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Mort Sahl was a very funny man for a few years. Then he became obsessed with a serious matter, the JFK assassination. The laughing stopped. Franken was funny- but he's no senator.

Posted by: mhr | February 5, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, I'm a moderate and I would vote for Mr. Franken in a heartbeat, I would go door to door and campaign for him, and I would donate money to his campaign. Al Franken is MY kind of Democrat. Instead of a blathering leftist or right wing baffoon, we see a guy who has been to Iraq on four separate occasions for no reason other than to let the troops know that we care about them, even if we think the invasion of that country was wrong. He is thoughtful, articulate, and a genuine populist. If Minnesota doesn't want him, he can move to Oregon. I assure you, he would replace Mr Outsourcing HIB Visa Gordon Smith.

Posted by: MikeB | February 5, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

No one wants to talk about what a complete and utter flop John Edwards was on Meet the Press? It is beginning to look like Hillary is inevitable. Which means Rudy wins in a walk. hooray.

Posted by: kingofzouk | February 5, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"william wants to kill black and brown people, so vermont would not be a good choice."

That is a despicable, blackhearted LIE, and you know it! I NEVER said ANYTHING even remotely like that.

Apparently, to you, just because I feel sorry for the Boers and don't want them exterminated, that means I hate "all black and brown people?"

Just like you called me racist for saying I wouldn't vote for Obama.

Very few Boers are white supremacists, and they voted OVERWHELMINGLY to END apartheid in the 1990s, so why dont you take a history lesson.

I DEMAND an immediate apology to your despicable, indefensible and scurrilous slander.

Or do you subscribe to the McCarthy school of debate and try to ludicrously and crassly smear anyone who doesnt agree with your beliefs.

I await your retraction of that terrible lie, and your apology!

Posted by: William | February 5, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Please stop picking on William.

He has an indoctrination class which he has to go to. After that he has to go to the cleaners to pick up his sheet for tonight's meeting.

I don't want him distracted.

Posted by: Bob Jones | February 5, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I was tempted to listen to Franken's show but I discovered that two listeners doesn't support the ad revenue required and that the entire mess went bankrupt. something about bashing Rush and O"Reilly not being sufficiently sustaining. so we end up with

"Vote for me, I drove my last company into the dirt and they can't pay me anymore. I haven't been funny for decades so I'm gonna try the serious stuff. I can be at least as funny as john botched Kerry. and send money too. " not what I would call highly motivational.

Posted by: kingofzouk | February 5, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

"Sure, Gov. Pawlenty won, narrowly, over a terrible Democratic candidate, but it's foolish to declare the direction of a state based on a governor's race; see Wyoming, Oklahoma, California."

Pawlenty only one by 20,000 votes out of like 2.2 million cast. He got 46% of the vote, Hatch got 45%, and 3rd parties got 9.

Posted by: William | February 5, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse


The public in general sees Franken as a goofy, wacky, far out comedian. You can decide if that perception is fair, but that's what people think of him.

william is soooo powerful, he can read the entire country's mind...

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans who dismiss Franken as simply a not funny comedian would best remember the Democrats who dismissed Reagan in 1966 and again in 1980 as nothing but a "B-rated movie actor."

Posted by: Nor'Easter | February 5, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"Franken will be one of the most articulate politicians you'll ever see . . . "

Being articulate doesn't help if you're articulating liberal nonsense.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

blarg,

william wants to kill black and brown people, so vermont would not be a good choice. i really think he should go to south africa to help out the poor old boers, because he has so much sympathy with white supremacists he stays up nights worrying about them.

Posted by: drindl | February 5, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"I don't know if right-wingers really don't understand when people like Franken are joking, or if they pretend not to understand so they can complain."

Blarg, we all tend to assume that people we like and agree with are joking, and only joking. We also all tend to assume that people we don't like and don't agree with are somehow revealing their true feelings.

Let's turn this around. Why do liberals always assume that conservatives are not joking - or, if they are, that their jokes are in in poor taste, hateful, and damaging? Why is it automatically not damaging for Franken to joke, but out of bounds for, say, a P.J. O'Rourke to joke about the same topics?

It's assumed to be per se "not funny" for most people to make homosexual jokes. Why is it o.k. for Franken to do it? These topics are either off limits, or not. Leaving aside the question of just how skilled Franken is as a comic, he is not the only highly skilled comic out there. The answer can't be "because he's better at it than everyone else."

Are you really giving him a pass because it was a joke? Who else would you be willing to cut the same slack? Do they all share Franken's views?

I want to challenge you here. Are you really saying that it's o.k. because he was joking, or because you like and agree with what he has said on other occasions?

Posted by: Demos | February 5, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Minnesota is a swing state? Kerry increased his margin there over what Gore won there (one of only two swing states to swing further toward the Democrats in 2004), Wellstone was leading Coleman before his death, and if not for the gross bastardization and politicalization of his memorial service by Fox News and the GOP, Mondale might have won.

Either way, 2002 was a very pro-GOP year and I'm not sure Coleman would have a shot in another year. Minnesotans just took an open senate seat in a pro-Democratic year, in an alleged swing state, against the "dream" GOP candidate, and gave the Democrat a landslide victory -- a bigger landslide win than any the other two, more reliably Democrat open-seat races.

Sure, Gov. Pawlenty won, narrowly, over a terrible Democratic candidate, but it's foolish to declare the direction of a state based on a governor's race; see Wyoming, Oklahoma, California.

Franken brings baggage, no doubt, and his words will be completely distorted and removed from any context (especially the ones from "Why Not Me?")... but that stunt failed miserably in Virginia and stunk of a sad desperate move on the part of George Allen. It backfired, and I think Coleman will be reluctant to do the same, if he's smart.

Coleman spent the last four years as a Mark Kennedy-style George W. Bush toadie. He's showing his first signs of independence and moderation in the election cycle. No one believed Santorum in Penn. No one believed Kennedy in Minnesota. Who will buy Coleman's 11th hour conversion?

Posted by: m | February 5, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Steve, thanks for your post.

All your points are valid, but you do have to consider the public perception of a candidate.

They can be a great candidate (not that I think Franken is - I despise him.)

But even if they are a great person, and would make a wonderful senator, if they can be smeared, it is still not a good decision to run them in an election.

The public in general sees Franken as a goofy, wacky, far out comedian. You can decide if that perception is fair, but that's what people think of him.

Also, his long paper trail, his books, previous statements, as well as his image will make it EXTREMELY easy far him to be smeared and it WILL happen.

So it would be MUCH smarter of the DFL to nominate someone who can't be easily smeared, and whom the public sees as a serious, responsible figure.

If Franken runs, he MIGHT have a chance to eke out a win, just barely.

But why roll the dice, especially when this seat is a prime DFL pickup?

It makes a lot more sense to nominate someone who is a stronger candidate, and to lock up the race early, rather than run a weak candidate and hope they win.

Certainty or near certainty is always better than doubt.

In the opinion of some Democrats, Franken may be the better guy, but Ciresi or McCallum is the better BET, to quote the West Wing.

Posted by: William | February 5, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

He can win, because he is only a celebrity to liberals.

Posted by: jimmy | February 5, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Franken will win!

Posted by: Franken Fan | February 5, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Just listen to Al's show. He is not only funny but a well informed and a wise man. He has bravely taken on Faux News, Limbaugh and the other right wing bullies when MSM crumbled. His heart is in the right place and he will be a voice for those of us who aren't the royal rich. He is curious, well educated, and will make a great public servant. Norm Coleman is toast. He made the mistake of switching from Dem to Rep when the winds seemed to be blowing that way. Well the winds have shifted again and Norm will lose big.

Posted by: Dave Thompson | February 5, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse


'An electorate made up of child molesters.'

that would be the republican party. get off the phone with mark foley, william, your mom is calling...

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Blarg. At least someone gets what Franken was saying back when he was, what? 24? (and God knows I wouldn't want to be held literally today to something I said as a joke in 1976.)

Demos: Give a guy a chance to respond to the questions before name-calling, OK? I mean, hypocrite? (Don't forget our friend, silent E...) For the record, I used to love reading P.J. O'Rourke, ending only when he basically stopped being funny (see also "Miller, Dennis," or "Sahl, Mort").

On the hypothetical front, I know of nothing Franken has said about blacks or Muslims, but point something out and I'll be glad to see let you know what I think of it. Until then, let's just stay here in the reality-based community, OK?

Posted by: Tom | February 5, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

' They will not let Tehran develop nukes, so there will be war IMO...is it going to be on our terms or theirs is the question'

why would our attacking them put the war on 'our terms' -- there will be no 'our terms'. we'll will have many, many 9/11s..oil wil go through the roof. shipping will be paralyzed, as will air travel...transportation... the northeast corrider transport will be shut down... it will destroy our economy.

where are the 'our terms'?

Posted by: lark | February 5, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

William, maybe you could help out the poor people of Vermont by going there and shooting all the criminals in the face. It's a win-win. The people of Vermont are saved from themselves, since they no longer have to live with the consequences of electing legislators and setting up a legal system that they agree with. And you get to satisfy your dreams of killing a bunch of people.

Posted by: Blarg | February 5, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

We don't declare war anymore and we don't wait to be attacked. We tried all that Edwards/Obama talk-talk in the 90s and look what it got us. Maybe the French will side with us? Maybe Iran will play nice. Maybe the UN will move in and fix things. Repeat. do you Dems ever learn anything from history or will I have to use Santayana's curse on you?

Posted by: kingofzouk | February 5, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

It's a positive sign when people with good judgement and common sense decide to enter politics. Any reasonable amount of listening to Al Franken leads to the conclusion he possesses both attributes. As for his being a comedian, he does that as a chosen vocation, unlike the person who is in the White House for two more excruciating years. I wish him well if he runs.

Posted by: Harry Albers | February 5, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Marcos, "Hide the children.. the molesters will be moving in soon."

What an ironic statement from a GOP trasher of a Dem candidate. Me thinks you are the smear merchant with a very short memory.

http://whathappenedtomycountry.blogspot.com

Posted by: Truth Hunter | February 5, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

William: "Yes, I know a lot of liberals and Dems on here like Franken. You probably like Howard Dean and Russ Feingold too."

You are forgetting something, William. Al Franken is not pondering a run for the Presidency, he is pondering a run for the US Senate from Minnesota in the seat formerly held by Paul Wellstone. In 1990, you probably would have said, "We don't need some short, ultraliberal college professor who can't beat a popular Senator like Rudy Boschwitz," or something like that.

Besides, Russ Feingold is a proven winner. He was the GOP's #2 target among incumbents in 2004 (#1 being Tom Daschle) and he was seen as doomed because he was in a state that very, very narrowly went for Gore in 2000. Well, John Kerry ended up winning Wisconsin by less than one point, while Feingold won a solid 10-point victory. In 2002, Wellstone was seen as doomed because of his support for the war, but that was when he started to pull away from Coleman, and if it wasn't for that plane crash, we could tell Joe Lieberman where to stick it because we wouldn't need his vote to hold the majority in the Senate now.

Al Franken is very electable. And if Republicans want to smear Al Franken for things that were obviously jokes by the same people who don't understand that "abstinence plus" sex ed, such as the kind taught where his children went to school, is exactly in line with his political stance (btw, I do laugh at a lot of P.J. O'Rourke's comedy even though I am a proud liberal). Then again, if they want to play the quote game, Norm Coleman is the same man who smeared the Wellstone family in 2002 after the funeral to win the seat and after he won it said that Paul Wellstone wasn't 1% the Senator he would be. Yeah, I'd take that battle of misstatements in a heartbeat.

Posted by: Steve | February 5, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I live in Minnesota. Norm Coleman's entire qualifications for the Senate consisted of being mayor of a sleepy 3rd-tier city, and an unsuccessful run for Governor.

Well that, and being co-chair of Bill Clinton's Presidential campaign in Minnesota.

Posted by: jim | February 5, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse


'If the people of MN really would elect a smear merchant like franken and lets be frank, he is seldom funny, you will soon be the next Vermont. Hide the children... the molesters will be moving in soon.'

gawd, some of the stoopidest people on earth post on this board. 'smear merchant' coming from a republican? hilarious.

the next 'vermont' -- so the state is full of child molesters? i think you must mean the republica members of congress.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Mark Foley is @ the Mayo Clinic in Rehab.

Isn't that in MN?

But Marcos is right, the justice system in VT is FUBAR.

You have serial rapists and molesters getting off with 60 days probation.

I guess it shows you what kind of people live in VT, if the voters support a judicial system like that.

An electorate made up of child molesters.

Of course, the wacky libs in VT buy into the far left "restorative justice" concept, under which it's society's fault when someone commits a crime, and the perp is not to blame, so for full justice to be done, the perp has to be given therapy, and nurtured, and taught that raping and murdering people just isn't nice.

And then, ten days after being convicted, the VT libs release him back into the community.

I'm glad I live in a state where violent criminals are put to death. Sometimes, we even find out what time the execution will be, have a countdown, and at 00, we celebrate :)

Posted by: William | February 5, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

"Hide the children... the molesters will be moving in soon."

I'm confused; is Mark Foley (R) going move to MN or Vermont because of Al Franken?

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | February 5, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

"The President has the necessary inherent powers under our constition to wage immediate War withour Congessional authorization '

ABSOLUTELY NOT...."

Unfortunately, I think bhoomes is correct on that.

The last Declaration of War was on December 8, 1941 (I don't believe that Truman was given one for Korea). And, The War Powers Act acknowledged the inherent war powers of the President. Of course, both parties supported the Act, but only when the President was from the other Party.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | February 5, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Lark: Ultimately you are right, Israel is a separate country that has to take care of itself. They will not let Tehran develop nukes, so there will be war IMO...is it going to be on our terms or theirs is the question. Do you have any doubt that Tehran will respond as if we fired the first shot irregardless of who starts it? I'm afraid we're locked into a historical paradigm that will ultimately lead to conflict with Iran, through either choice or circumstance.

Posted by: FH | February 5, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Al Franken should run as a Likud party candidate. His "Israel can do no wrong" attitude was why I quit listening to AirAmerica. Listening to a washed up "comedian" (did anyone ever think he was funny?) tell Juan Cole that he has it all wrong was the turning point for me. He may win, though , as he will get plenty of AIPAC member contributions.

Posted by: Vic | February 5, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Marcos. I forgot the other part of the right-wing criticism of Franken: That he's not funny. Every conservative reference to him always includes a jab about how he's not funny. I guess that's why he was a comedy writer and actor for so many years. He wrote for SNL in the 70s; I guarantee you've laughed at something Al Franken has written, if you're old enough. But conservatives confuse political agreement with quality. Franken disagrees with you politically, so he's automatically a hack.

Posted by: Blarg | February 5, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Demos, he said it as a joke. Read the whole quote that Tom posted. Franken said he didn't like homosexuals, said that the people who rejected his skit were gay, then laughed. That's obviously a joke.

I don't know if right-wingers really don't understand when people like Franken are joking, or if they pretend not to understand so they can complain. I saw a site attacking his book that was a list of lies he told. Most of them were obviously jokes, like a fake story about the White House press secretary knocking over Helen Thomas when fleeing the press room. And this site was outraged that Franken would put such a lie in his book!

Posted by: Blarg | February 5, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

If the people of MN really would elect a smear merchant like franken and lets be frank, he is seldom funny, you will soon be the next Vermont. Hide the children... the molesters will be moving in soon.

Posted by: Marcos | February 5, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

So the late Paul Wellstone was an "unapologetic liberal". What would you have him apologize for, exactly, if he were alive today?

Posted by: mpvienna | February 5, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I'm kind of shocked that there is even a question about whether Franken can beat Norm Coleman. Norm Coleman?? Franken will be one of the most articulate politicians you'll ever see, and he'll be able to take the things "mined" against him and turn them to his advantage. Franken will win this race by 9 or 10 points.

Posted by: Peter in GA | February 5, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I would suggest that you look first at how quickly Coleman has gotten into panic attack mode--"Venomous Air America show--high powered Hollywood liberals" as a measure of how seriously HE takes Al Franken. The attack is comical for anyone that has heard the vitriol spewed onto the airwaves by Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly et al. And the Hollywood crack is a hoot--conservatives have NO problem with "Hollywood conservatives"--Ron Silver, Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood and the Governator.
Coleman was a Bush toadie until 6 months ago, and he occupies a seat once graced by Paul Wellstone, an unapologetic patriotic progressive whose grass roots people would welcome Franken, his irreverence and his politics. Lord knows the Senate needs more populist liberals who can answer the slurs of the conservatives with sarcasm AND intelligence. I hope he runs and wins just to watch Bill O'Reilly pop a blood vessel live on Fox.

Posted by: dan w | February 5, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Franken has an excellent chance next year. The "Minnesota is a swing state" argument doesn't have legs. Amy Klobuchar just won by over 20 points against a House incumbent. It won't be that kind of a blow out, but Franken should have a very good chance of re-taking Wellstone's seat

Posted by: cas | February 5, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Oh fer Pete's sake. This in a country that elected Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarz...I can't even spell his name, Ronald Reagan and a host of other "non" politicos. I trust the primary process in Minnesota to help both the Democrats and Franken to make sense of who should run.

Besides, what has "experience" gotten us lately? Iraq. Global warming. A 2 sides of an electorate that pretty much hate each other? Give me an amateur, I says!

Posted by: tony | February 5, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

'The President has the necessary inherent powers under our constition to wage immediate War withour Congessional authorization '

ABSOLUTELY NOT. YOU REALLY LOVE DICTATORS DON'T YOU?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

bhoomes: Going after the Iranian agents in Iraq is just part of war, and the Iranians know that. Do the NeoCons?

I can't see this President getting away with a "pretext for invasion," like Hitler used for invading Poland.

The Iranian nuclear problem is going to have to be dealt with by the International community. And that, unfortunately, may be "Live with It." Just as we do with North Korea, India/Pakistan, Israel and South Africa and others.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | February 5, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Keep in mind that in the past 15 years, we voters in Minnesota have chosen a college professor (Paul Wellstone) and a TV anchorman (Rod Grams) as US Senators and a pro wrestler (Jesse Ventura)for our governor. You don't have to be a lifelong political hack to get elected in Minnesota.

Posted by: GmcDuluth | February 5, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Their is a lot of nation/states watching to see if we have the will to stop Iran, if not, you can kiss the NPT goodbye.

--it's gone already.. because of bush there is already a new arms race. israel has nukes, pakistan has nukes, india has nukes.. north korea has nukes. everyone will soon. the global corporations who run this country don't abide by the NPT, they selll to whomever they feel like.

'To nameless: Is Iran a rational actor...ie, will they choose not to use the bomb, knowing that it will induce their destruction? Will they choose not to give the bomb to an organization that might want to do the U.S. or our allies harm, knowing that it would induce their destruction? Do you know the answer to that question, given that Iran is run by a group of religious zealots who feel that God is on their side. Are you sure of your answer my friend? Are you willing to live in a world where Hezbollah has the bomb? If you lived in Israel, would you be willing to live in a world where Hezbollah has the bomb'

I laready live in a world where pakistan has the bomb, so what difference does it make? Pakistan is right now harboring more terrorists [including bin ladin and the taliban, whom they have a 'treaty' with] than any place in the world.

THIS country is run by a bunch of relgios zealots who think god is on their side -- and we have more than enough nukes to blow the entire world apart. THAT scares me as much as Iran.

You really Kim Jong is sane? Oh please, wake up. Even bush calls him insane. He's far worse than anyone in Iran. And I honestly think the Iranians are quite rational. The clerics simply find it easier to control the population by religion than force. Works the world over.

and I don't live in Israel. Israel spies on this country and steals our technology. They are a SEPARATE country -- they can take care of themselves.

Incidentally, the real reason bush wants to go after Iran is because the Saudis are pushing h im too. Do you really want to be their puppets?

Posted by: lark | February 5, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

whether or not al franken is qualified to serve in the senate is for the voters of minnesota to decide. i believe he has the smarts, and i believe his heart is in the right place. he certainly doesn't need the money or the fame. i do not believe he would be any less representative of minnesota or of america as a whole than coleman, a bush buddy who was elected after wellstone (the true favorite) died in the plane crash, and he'd be a hell of a lot more fun - a quality sadly lacking on the political scene since 2000.

Posted by: meuphys | February 5, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

"That's what did it for Wellstone - he was well behind until about 2 weeks before the election, when Rudy Boschwitz (his opponent) sent a letter to all the local synagogues, asking them to support him because Wellstone wasn't really Jewish (because his wife had been converted by a Reform rabbi, if I remember correctly). Without this stupid, below-the-belt, attack, Boschwitz almost certainly would have won.
Posted by: David | February 5, 2007 01:12 PM "

I don't think Sheila Wellstone ever converted to Judaism (although we'd be honored to have her). Why Sen Boschwitz thought this would add to his expected margin of victory is beyond me, but in their 1996 rematch he similarly self immolated by accusing Paul of burning the flag, sans evidence. I'm sure he wishes he'd run against Paul yet again in 2002, when that sort of allegation really paid off nationwide.

Posted by: aleks | February 5, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

'As George C. Scott said while micmicing General Lemay in Dr. Strangelove. "Lets hit them while their pants are down".

oy. the fact that this is the lesson you take from dr. strangelove tells us more about you than we want to know...

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I certainly love all these people who talk about the qualifications to be Senator or the qualifications to be President. The qualifications are constitutionally-written and the bar does not indicate amount of time spent serving in political roles. How else could the Shrub ever won the White House because we all know now he wasn't "Qualified" to be President.

Posted by: Keith | February 5, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

"Seems to me that anyone who would be offended by that comment, in that context, made that long ago, wouldn't be voting for Franken anyway, so he has little to worry about there...."

What? Why do you think it's o.k. for Franken to joke about homosexuality? Would it be o.k. for P.J. O'Rourke to say the exact same words, in the same tone of voice? If not, why not? Does Franken get some sort of free pass because he's liberal? (Because you like him and agree with his politics?)

Would you be comfortable with his saying that he "just didn't like" blacks? Women? Muslims?

You, my friend, are a hypocrit - unless you're willing to cut someone who is not liberal, and whose politics you do not like, the exact same slack.

Posted by: Demos | February 5, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Tim Walz would also be a great pick. IIRC, he's a veteran, unlike Norm Coleman, and would win in a landslide.

People in MN hate Coleman, from what I understand, but Franken is far from a credible candidate.

Nominating Franken to challenge Coleman will turn a very easy Dem win into a disaster.

Seriously, if you Dems want to win, pick a good candidate, like McCallum, who can blow Coleman out of his saddle without lifting a finger.

It's not much to ask.

Simply pick a strong candidate, and in MN, you are practically guaranteed a win.

If Tim Allen is nominated in ME, and the Dems pick a good candidate in NH, there's another 2 seats pickup.

In OR, Gordon Smith is bearing hard-a-port (that's left), sponsoring a gay civil unions amendment.

Will it be enough? I don't know. I know very little about OR state politics, but from what I gather they are more conservative than CA but more liberal than many parts of Washington State and certainly more liberal than Nevada.

I think if the Dems put up a strong candidate, they will stand a good chance of taking OR.

In CO, the Dems are almost guaranteed a win, assuming they don't do anything stupid.

Even in states like NC and TN, the incumbent R may be vulnerable to the right candidate.

So, the Democratic Party has a choice.

Chart a center course, nominate moderate candidates, and a moderate Presidential candidate with broad appeal, and the Dems could quite conceivably end up with the White House, a 245-190 majority in the House, and a 56-44 majority in the Senate, or...

nominate someone like Hillary or Obama, and congressional candidates like Franken, and lose several seats in the House, 2-3 seats in the Senate, and the White House.

2008 will almost certainly be a blue year, unless there is some unforseen surprise.

What will the Dems do with this opportunity?

Take advantage of it?

Or waste it by nominating candidates who will not appeal to voters?

It will be interesting to see.

Will Schumer and Van Hollen remember how they won in 2006, and be able to repeat it?

Posted by: William | February 5, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

NorEaster: Granted it will be extremely difficult to generate the necessary political support needed for preemptive military action in Iran, so GWB is doing the right thing by grabbing their agents in Iraq and other measures meant to provoke a reaction. The President has the necessary inherent powers under our constition to wage immediate War withour Congessional authorization if we are any way attacked (ie: ships in the region). The dangers of inaction are far greater than the dangers of action.

Posted by: bhoomes | February 5, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Lots of good comments today.

"And Judge, this next election will be the most vile and vicious yet, with the republicans frothing to take back power. There's nothing they won't do or say. Every race will be fought with filth, so no matter whom we nominate as a dem, they will be swift-boated, whetehr there's anything there or not. The simple-minded republican base will believe anything on fox and vote for whomever they are told."

Drindl's got a point and she seems to know a few R's as I do; my question is, does an appreciable segment of the MN population watch a lot of Faux News? I thought they were too busy drinking warm fluids, installing block heaters, stockpiling blankets, checking their traps and shopping for flares to remain that glued to the idiot box. Just kidding (about the traps)!

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | February 5, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

"Is Iran a rational actor . . ."

Based on the evidence to date? No.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Don't know about the Democrats, but he may be our dream candidate. We've had pretty good luck over the last 30 or 40 years, all in all, in running against Democrats who define themselves as liberals.

It's all well and good to argue that "liberal" should be defined differently, but those Democrats (and others) who call themselves liberals have had a pretty consistent political philosophy and program for 50 years or so. As a practical matter, the meaning of "liberal" won't change much until self-identified liberals update their political philosphy.

Which is cool, because until that happens, they are much more dangerous to themselves than they are to their political opponents.

Posted by: Republican | February 5, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

The race of Coleman's senate seat, like many 2008 races including the presidential, will almost assuredly be the Democrat's to lose.

Nominating Al Franken would be an extremely stupid move on the part of the MN DFL.

Yes, I know a lot of liberals and Dems on here like Franken. You probably like Howard Dean and Russ Feingold too.

That doesn't make someone electable. The election will be decided by the people of MN, not by people on the WAPO website.

So, if the Dems have any brains, Chuck Shumer will find someone aside from Franken, who is the WEAKEST possible candidate.

Coleman may be unpopular, but if 2008 isn't as anti-GOP, and especially with the GOP convention in MN, he may squeak by with another win.

If the Dems don't nominate Franken, and nominate Betty McCallum or Mike Ciresi, or practically anyone without baggage, then I think the Dems will take this seat by a similar margin that Klobuchar did.

Posted by: William | February 5, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Chris,
Before you right off liberals, perhaps you would be well advised to see how Sen. Coleman votes on the Iraq war resolutions. If he supports the promised filibuster then, I believe, his re-electoral viablity will nose dive.

Posted by: Bill | February 5, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

To nameless: Is Iran a rational actor...ie, will they choose not to use the bomb, knowing that it will induce their destruction? Will they choose not to give the bomb to an organization that might want to do the U.S. or our allies harm, knowing that it would induce their destruction? Do you know the answer to that question, given that Iran is run by a group of religious zealots who feel that God is on their side. Are you sure of your answer my friend? Are you willing to live in a world where Hezbollah has the bomb? If you lived in Israel, would you be willing to live in a world where Hezbollah has the bomb? I don't know that answer, and it frankly scares me a whole lot more than a wide-scale conflict in the middle-east. And please don't use the straw-man that Iraq didn't have WMD. Can there be any doubt that Tehran is developing nukes?

As for North Korea...Kim is all about survival. I have little doubt that he will choose life over certain destruction.

Franken in the Senate...I think he would be great. He has strong convictions and I think they would serve him well. I also think he has a good shot to win given MN's. recent penchant for maverick candidates.

Posted by: FH | February 5, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"On the other hand, how is the quote below different from the meme on the Right, that 'liberals' and gays were responsible for 9/11? They say this kiond of crap all the time and nobody calls them for it."

Ah, but how many Republican nominees for the Senate have said that? If Franken runs, he won't be compared to O'Reilly and Robertson and Coulter -- he'll be compared to serious candidates. We expect more from them than from commentators and comedians. At least, I hope we do.

How would he do as a candidate? All depends on how he presents himself. Arrogance and condesencion don't come across well in the Midwest. If he can avoid that perception, why not?

Posted by: Bob | February 5, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I like this idea.

He could get elected for a couple of terms. Then run for president. That would give him the same level of political experience as the Current Occupant had in 2000.

And as far as accomplishments go, he wouldn't have the knock of having traded Sammy Sosa.


Posted by: bob | February 5, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

bhoomes: Our options are significantly limited since we strayed off the International Reservation with the Coalition of The Willing.

George H. W. Bush had it right. George W. Bush blew it. Now we pay a price with those things which are not practical for us to do alone. Iran is one of those things.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | February 5, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

The DFL needs to get real and start looking for alternatives to not only stop Franken but to beat Coleman. It is critical they get back Wellstone's seat.

The party's best bet would be to draft Tim Walz, the Wellstone-esque congressman and National Guard veteran who won last fall in the supposedly uber conservative First District.

Posted by: peter | February 5, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

It is not to late to stop Iran from going nuclear if they don;t have them yet. Their is a lot of nation/states watching to see if we have the will to stop Iran, if not, you can kiss the NPT goodbye. Everybody will be scrambling to develop nukes. Now would make the World waiting the Disaster. War now with Iran is not going to be a cakewalk or without some real pain. But look at the alternatives if we let them go nuclear. We will have a War, but it will be more costly. As George C. Scott said while micmicing General Lemay in Dr. Strangelove. "Lets hit them while their pants are down".

Posted by: bhoomes | February 5, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm a bit astonished not to find a single mention of Klobuchar's landslide last year, either in the main post or in the comments. Does it tell us nothing that her contest against Rep. Mark "Best Candidate Ever" Kennedy lost all suspense months before the election?

I also like what drindl wrote above regarding the equal likelihood of any candidate anywhere getting swift-boated. Allegations and the viciousness with which they're would not be tempered if we nominated the world's cleanest political aspirant. (Isn't that exactly what the term "swift-boating" should remind us of?)

Posted by: Max | February 5, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Before Franken steps to the microphone to announce his candidacy, he should take a few minutes and read someone else's book -- namely the late great Congressman Mo Udall's "Too Funny to be President".

Humor in a campaign, like anything else, is best in moderation.

Posted by: Roger Murdock | February 5, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Don't dismis the impact of same day registration used in Minnesota. It was a major factor in Ventura's election and could have similar impact with a vocal celebrity like Franken

Posted by: BobP | February 5, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Wow - Al Franken being taken seriously as a political candidate. Personally, I am supporting Keith Olberman in this race. If he isn't available I think perhaps Bill Marr will be my choice. Hopefully, we can get Ann Coulter to upset Coleman in the fight for the republican nomination or perhaps Stephen Colbert. Then we can be certain that Minnesota has a joke of a Senator.

Posted by: TG | February 5, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

As a longtime Franken fan, I wish I could vote for him, but as a WV resident, that is not in the cards, but if he does run, I will certainly send him a check (albeit a small one) and if they need any sort of work that can be done from a distance, I will certainly do that as well. Go, Al, go!

Posted by: Steve | February 5, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Al Franken would probably need an incredible screwup from his opponent, like supporting Bush is right now. That's what did it for Wellstone - he was well behind until about 2 weeks before the election, when Rudy Boschwitz (his opponent) sent a letter to all the local synagogues, asking them to support him because Wellstone wasn't really Jewish (because his wife had been converted by a Reform rabbi, if I remember correctly). Without this stupid, below-the-belt, attack, Boschwitz almost certainly would have won.

Posted by: David | February 5, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

We do need to defeat Coleman in Minnesota. The idea that he is a moderate, given his devotion to the Bush agenda, is silly. I am not at all sure that Al Franken can not be a successful candidate, and would certainly be the most entertaining candidate this nation has seen for a long time. This is a brilliant man who knows the hypocracy of the political system as it exists, and has no hesitation pointing that out. IF he does not get politically "handled" by the consultant industry, I think he can win. I think American is ready for some good old Truth to the Power plain talk, and Franken can deliver.

Posted by: Wayne P | February 5, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Franken/gay rights:
For the record, here is the totality of Franken's "I just don't like homosexuals" remark, which he made THIRTY-ONE years ago in a Harvard Crimson interview:

He recalled writing a skit called "Seamen on Broadway" that was rejected from the Hasty Pudding show "by some preppie so they could take some other preppie's skit." Franken started to smile again, but his tone was serious, too serious. "It's not preppies, cause I'm a preppie myself. I just don't like homosexuals. If you ask me, they're all homosexuals in the Pudding. Hey, I was glad when that Pudding homosexual got killed in Philadelphia." The smile became so broad it pushed his eyes shut. He couldn't stand it any longer. "Put that in, put that in," Franken laughed, leaning over the desk. "I'd love to see that in The Crimson."

Seems to me that anyone who would be offended by that comment, in that context, made that long ago, wouldn't be voting for Franken anyway, so he has little to worry about there....

Posted by: Tom | February 5, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Personally, i find him annoying. There are politicians that i will listen to and those that remind me of fingernails on the chalkboard. For me, Franken falls into the fingernail category. The question is how that will break down between the 46% moderates in MN. There are comments that Franken "comes across" as condescending. Maybe that is his act - maybe that's him. I think that if that is really his persona, he will have a hard time. But i have to admit that he does appear sharp and pretty well versed. A prime candidate to be underestimated!

Posted by: Dave! | February 5, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Iran is not innocent of dangerous and provocative behavior.
But war is not yet justified, except in the minds of those who have been lobbying for it for years. Iran is still years away from being a nuclear threat, and our experience with "preventive war" in Iraq should teach us a thing or two. Launching another such war without international approval would leave us even more politically isolated and militarily overstretched. Attacking a Middle Eastern country -- one much stronger than Iraq and with the ability to cut off oil supplies from the Strait of Hormuz -- will inflame the region, intensify Shiite militia attacks on our soldiers in Iraq and stimulate terrorist attacks on Americans and U.S. interests worldwide.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Coleman is in big trouble here in 2008, because in 2002 he ran specifically as a devoted follower of President Bush. I call him a lap dog, but he really did say that his closeness to Bush (as opposed to Sen Wellstone's opposition) would benefit the state. Even more embarrassingly for Minnesota (and for Coleman if he had any shame), a call from Dick Cheney convinced him to run for senator in the first place when he had been running for governor (and vis versa for Gov. Tim Pawlenty). Now that Bush's stock is low and his war is unpopular, Coleman is trying to refashion himself as an independent (he was a Clinton & Wellstone praising Democrat in the 90s by the way). He's very smooth and slick, but he can be beaten next year, so I hope the Democrats don't waist the opportunity by running Franken who will draw ridicule to himself that has been rightfully earned by Coleman.

Posted by: aleks | February 5, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

'A growing number of Iraqis blamed the United States on Sunday for creating conditions that led to the worst single suicide bombing in the war, which devastated a Shiite market in Baghdad the day before. They argued that the Americans had been slow in completing the vaunted new American security plan, making Shiite neighborhoods much more vulnerable to such horrific attacks....

In advance of the plan, which would flood Baghdad with thousands of new American and Iraqi troops, many Mahdi Army checkpoints were dismantled and its leaders were either in hiding or under arrest, which was one of the plan's intended goals to reduce sectarian fighting. But with no immediate influx of new security forces to fill the void, Shiites say, Sunni militants and other anti-Shiite forces have been emboldened to plot the type of attack that obliterated the bustling Sadriya market on Saturday, killing at least 135 people and wounding more than 300 from a suicide driver's truck bomb....

More than a dozen mortar shells crashed on Adhamiya, a Sunni area of eastern Baghdad, in what appeared to be an act of retaliation by Shiites. At least 15 people were killed and more than 56 wounded, an Interior Ministry official said.

Clashes in western Baghdad between Sunni and Shiite militias left 7 dead and 11 wounded, and the authorities found 35 bodies throughout the city, many showing signs of torture.'

Posted by: another brilliant idea from the moron in chief | February 5, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Any Democrat willing to speak truth to power is good enough for me. No reason he should no tbe able to beat Coleman. MN may not always be rational, but if you remember it was neocon yakkers smearing the funeral of Wellstone who got the repubs a seat there in the first place. If not for the untimely death of Wellstone we would still have a pregressive liberal from that state tipping the balance a little more in the direction of sanity than we have seen since the contract on America crowd stole our government 12 years ago.

Posted by: Jesse | February 5, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

'War with Iran would be a catastrophe that would make us look back fondly on the minor inconvenience of being bogged down in Iraq. While the Congress flounders about what, exactly, it can do about Iraq, it can do something useful, while it still matters, in making clear that it will authorize no money and provide no endorsement for military action against Iran.

Why? Think of the three ways war between the United States and Iran might start.

One is the surprise, "surgical" air operation against Iranian nuclear facilities to take them out before they cause too much trouble. This option is beloved of the kind of tough-guy op-ed writers who earlier cheered on a war with Iraq. It is not at all beloved within the U.S. military. That is because military officials know what would happen roughly five minutes after the attacks were over: a short-term effort to make things really difficult for Americans in Iraq (where Iran obviously has huge leverage), in world energy markets, and everywhere else -- plus a long-term, renewed effort to build Iran's own bomb. More than two years ago, this exercise in the Atlantic indicated that it was simply too late for the United States (much less Israel) to deny Iran a nuclear option via surprise attack. Since then -- well, it's even later.

The second option would be land war. Please. Iran is nearly four times as large and has nearly three times as many people as Iraq. With what army will the U.S. attack and occupy such a state?

And the third would be some kind of drift into war, Cuban Missile Crisis-style. Threats and bombast on both sides, hair-trigger preparations, each side hurrying to strike because it thinks it's too dangerous to wait for the other side to strike first. (Come to think of it, wasn't this the essence of the "National Security Strategy" the Bush administration laid out in 2002, with its concept of "preventive" war?) For the likely consequences, see Option One.

Would it be better if Iran did not acquire nuclear weapons? Of course. But there are certain important goals that cannot realistically be attained by war. This is one of them. Analogy: it would be far better if North Korea did not build a full nuclear arsenal. The United States should do all it can to keep that from happening -- but no sane person thinks that attacking North Korea, and provoking an instant assault on Seoul and neighboring cities, is the way to go.'

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

' Hillary Clinton is not just beating Rudy Giuliani in his home state -- and her adopted state -- of New York, but is trouncing the former Mayor by over 20 points in a new poll. The survey, released today by Crain's New York Business, finds that Hillary is beating Rudy 53%-32%.'

the people who actually know hillary and rudy choose hillary in a heartbeat

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The fact that the quotation "'I an odd way, I blame Linda Tripp and Ann Coulter for Sept. 11..." could be used against Franken is a comment on the "liberal" media. Everyone knows that the Lewinsky scandal limited Clinton's ability to go after bin Laden.

In other words, Franken's statement is objectively reasonable, but the Republican authors of "Frankly Franken" need have no fear that the MSM would ever point that out.

Posted by: straydog | February 5, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I hope Franken wins, and if I were a resident of Minnesota I would certainly vote for him. Why? Because he knows the issues, he knows the political climate, and he knows how the system works. These are sadly things we cannot say about most political candidates. They are familiar with a few issues they can pound their chest about, and might have an understanding of law, but pathetically few have Franken's knowledge.

Posted by: hattergal | February 5, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Mn is NOT like Ohio. The power has shifted over the last 3 decades from the farmers to the Twin Cities burbs, making it more Republican than before, but certainly not nearly as much in play as the conservatives hope. Having the convention in Minneapolis, while an economic shot in the arm, is a fool's errand. Minnesotans cannot be taken for granted politically, nor can they be wowed with a show.

While they had Wellstone, they also had Grams, the neolithic moron, so they tend to elect eclectic mixes. Franken will come over well in MN, which likes humor and brains, but will run into trouble on a few fronts, none of them being tied to Hollywood or Saturday Night Live. First, as mentioned, Coleman is moderate, but his support is soft (among other silly things they worry about, they don't like his wife, the actress slash model - too uppity). Franken also has a LOT of backstory to justify, as also mentioned, but it can be done, given that most people who know of him assume that everything that has come out of his mouth is tongue in cheek. But he will suffer the Dean problem - he will be seen as unelectable - and this will cost him the nomination. It will go to a moderate.

I was born and raised there, a total of 30 years b4 I moved to DC, and miss it. The cold keeps the riff-raff out. Like rain in Seattle.

Posted by: Mn ex-pat | February 5, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Cillizza, you really are a tool, you know that? Being 'branded' a liberal? Sorry, bud I don't consider it an insult. Too bad you do -- so much for the 'liberal media,' hmm?

Do you really think that peoople will automatically vote for a 'wealthy lawyer' over self-made individual, in a state that elected Paul Wellstone?

And Judge, this next election will be the most vile and vicious yet, with the republicans frothing to take back power. There's nothing they won't do or say. Every race will be fought with filth, so no matter whom we nominate as a dem, they will be swift-boated, whetehr there's anything there or not. The simple-minded republican base will believe anything on fox and vote for whomever they are told.

I don't know about Franken -- I think he's very smart and really pretty moderate and porbably a good fit for MN, especially after the weak, lackluster and mediocre Coleman, but he does joke a lot, being a comedian and all, and I'm afraid, since the Right doesn't understand the concept of 'humor' that a lot of his comments will be terribly misunderstand by the simple.

On the other hand, how is the quote below different from the meme on the Right, that 'liberals' and gays were responsible for 9/11? They say this kiond of crap all the time and nobody calls them for it.

'("In an odd way, I blame Linda Tripp and Ann Coulter for Sept. 11, because if they hadn't dug this stuff up, it may not have happened"),'

Posted by: drindl | February 5, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Franken continually needling Fox Noise and O'Reilly as part of his campaign, and their retorts, would be worth the price of admission, if we had to pay for it. But we won't have to pay for it. Ain't America Great!

Posted by: Nor'Easter | February 5, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

At least when Al Franken tells a joke, it's intentional.

Posted by: Bob | February 5, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I love Al Franken, but I suspect his personal (comedic, to be sure..) style will turn off more voters than it turns on. He comes across as condescending, snide, and sneering. And I don't think voters are going to appreciate being looked down on. Both Paul Wellstone and Jesse Ventura had a kind "Oh, Gee"...kind of personality, not an "Oh...whatever" style. As a democrat, who wants that seat, and a fan of of Al Franken's book and comedy, I would hope somebody else comes out of that primary.

Posted by: Rick | February 5, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Al fits perfectly into MN ability to pick way out of the box candidates. And don't forget that before Coleman, a New Yorker, went against the president, he was the No. 1 soundbite for the war and the president's way of fighting that war.
No matter who runs, Coleman will lose. He will not get by hundreds of sound bites for Bush and the war.

Posted by: Ca for Franken | February 5, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Would have to agree that if Franken won the Democratic nomination, the biggest factor could be the national political climate and a rejection of Republicans. It's definitely possible Franken could win, especially if he positions himself as a reasonable, competent candidate.

Posted by: John C. | February 5, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

As the late Molly Ivins so well exemplified, sharp wit and political wisdom make a powerful combination....

CC - Your really insufferably elitist and degrading take on Franken show your true "GOP playbook" colors.... and I don't imagine Minnesota will take to being depicted as the eccentric aunt in the attic.

The country rose above Ronnie's "Bonzo" escapades to take him seriously, I imagine they can overlook satirical Franken remarks as well.

http://whathappenedtomycountry.blogspot.com

Posted by: Truth Hunter | February 5, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me that in addition to the national environment (and who knows what that will be like in 2008), the central issue will be if Franken can frame the election as a referendum on Coleman (which re-elections ostensibly are all about--do we want to "rehire" this guy for the job). If he does--given Coleman's close ties to the WhiteHouse & the fact that many Minnesotans are ambivalent about him & his mediocre leadership--he'll win the election by a good 5-8points. If Coleman is able to flip the election from his abysmal record to a referendum on Franken, we'll have a horse race on our hands--with a lot of good one liners! I say, Game on!

Posted by: Michael in Seattle (Born in MN!) | February 5, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Norm is a good Senator and moderately represents his state. Having Franken get in, is good for Norm. Other than cracking jokes and writing silly books, Al has no qualifications to be Senator. I lived in Minnisota in 1976-78 when it was quite liberal, but the demographics have changed and is now like Ohio, a swing state that can go either way. After that silly wrestler they had for a Gov. I doubt if they will want to embarras themselves again.

Posted by: bhoomes | February 5, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

i like al franken and think he'd make a great senator. i think the citizens of MN can make the judgement call on him. thats why they have a primary and a general election. if they want him to be their senator he will be and if they don't want him to be he wont be.

Posted by: aaron | February 5, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

MN is the only state in which a Franken win is conceivable and it would be moderately entertaining. Not sure if Franken is up to it or not. Talk about galvanizing the right. The dittoheads would burn him in effigy.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | February 5, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

As a fairly liberal guy, I hope Franken doesn't run. I tend to be against these celeb candidates in general. The MN DFLers have a deep bench. Pick someone with experience, in a seat that should be right up with CO and NH as the top 08 pick-ups.

No reason to take a chance here with Franken.

Posted by: Greg-G | February 5, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

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