By Alan Caruba
It’s just too easy to make snide jokes about Al Franken’s rise to the U.S. Senate and I won’t do it.
The facts are that he has been quite successful throughout his life. He is a graduate of Harvard in government studies, so he presumably has read the U.S. Constitution. He proved himself to be a tenacious candidate, waiting for many months for the courts to vindicate his victory.
Minnesota strikes me as a very strange place, politically speaking. They once elected a former professional wrestler, Jesse Ventura, to be their Governor. Votes for Franken kept showing up unexpectedly. I wouldn’t be surprised if some were found at the bottom of a wishing well.
Franken has written some successful books such as “Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fact Idiot”, number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and followed that up with another bestseller, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.”
Aside from the fact that the titles betray a strong malice toward conservatives, Franken has clearly devoted a lot of time to thinking about the central beliefs of liberalism. He will be a reliable, knee-jerk vote in the Senate.
He is best known from his days as a writer and performer on Saturday Night Live, 1975-1980 and again in 1985 to 1995. He would win five Emmy awards along the way. From 2004 to 2007 he was part of the ill-fated Air America Radio that tried to become the first progressive talk radio network, but it was no match for the popularity of Rush Limbaugh or the many other conservative talk show hosts.
Though born in New York in 1951, Franken is a true Minnesotan because his family moved there when he was age four and that’s where he grew up in middle class comfort. Franken absorbed some bedrock liberal values and perceptions of the world, not the least of which is that government exists to help people who cannot help themselves.
Happily married for 22 years, he saw it happen for those in his wife’s family, confirming his belief that more government is probably good government so long as it hands out other people’s money for worthy causes like Pell Grants for college.
The point of this brief biographical sketch is that Al Franken is a true believer in liberalism. I can see him happily performing the duty of being Barack Obama’s footstool.
Despite all the dubious circumstances involving his election to high office he is without doubt the first professional comedian to become a U.S. Senator. We have had actors in Congress and the White House, but the two that come to mind were both conservatives.
I may disagree with everything Al Franken believes, but I will neither doubt his sincerity nor his intelligence.
For my part, I never found much of what he did as a comedian very funny. In fact, I found a lot of it to be downright creepy. I didn’t laugh at it then and I have no cause to be laughing now.
I would not, however, under-estimate him.