I headed home from Drinking Liberally a little earlier than most of the gang so maybe I can beat them to the punch with a post about tonight's guest, Al Franken. Most of you have probably heard that Al is running for senate to take back the seat formerly held by the late Paul Wellstone. Now I like Al. I enjoyed his work in the early days of SNL and have a couple of his books and occasionally tuned in to hear him on Air America Radio. But like a number of other people, even those predisposed to like him, I have to admit I was a little hesitant as to whether I thought it was a good idea for him to make a run. I think he would be a good senator but there is a real question about a guy with his background being a candidate for such an important office. After seeing the documentary about him that was out a few months ago I was leaning towards supporting him, but if I had any lingering doubts they were dispelled by this video:
I think that is just a brilliant and heartfelt statement and I don't know when I have heard a candidate, at any level, announce a campaign with such passion and earnestness. And that's what impressed me most in meeting him tonight as he spent a couple hours talking to a couple dozen of us in a small bar, his passion and his earnestness. Talking to him you have no doubt that everything he tells you is coming straight from the heart. He's not telling you something because he wants to be a senator, he wants to be a senator because of his passion for the things he is talking about. He is authentic and genuine. Could anything be farther removed from Empty Suit Norm Coleman?
I think the best thing Al's campaign could do is get that video shipped out to every DFLer who is likely to be a delegate to next years state convention. The early focus of the media, and likely most voters, is the novelty of a famous comedian running for office, but once they actually get a chance to get a good look at the guy it will be a whole new ballgame. I think he will be a great candidate and will remind people of what it was they liked about Paul Wellstone. And remember, one of the great things about Wellstone was not just the loyalty he inspired in his supporters, but also the reaction he got from people that didn't agree with him on a single issue. Many a time I heard someone say "I don't agree with him on the issues, but I have to respect a guy who fights for what he thinks is right." Paul was the real deal and I think Al just might be as well.
I watched the whole thing on YouTube. I agree, he sounds like the real thing. I hope he really is, because we need more folks in Washington who think FDR did good things for the country. Somebody once said that FDR saved capitalism from itself. I believe it. It angers me that there are so many now who want to undo the New Deal.
I saw a snippet of a forum (??) with Newt Gingrich and Charles Schumer on CSpan the other day. They were both discussing their new books (probably reading both would be a good idea). Anyway, Schumer noted that the Republican Party has been taken over by two groups. He called one group the "Christian Theocrats," and the other the "Economic Royalists." As you know Jambo, I have used similar epithets in the past in speaking of my frustration that my party has been hijacked. I think we need more people like Charles Schumer and Al Frankin in the U.S. Senate. If you host something for him, let me and A know.
By 12:07 PM, at
Early on, Franken described himself as a DLC style Democrat, who admired Wellstone for his conviction, but didn't agree with his policy positions. I don't know if that has changed or not.
Just to be devil's advocate, Franken is a professional actor. I assume he can fake sincerity very well.
I like Chuck Schumer but don't get many books read these days I'm afraid. (Darn kids!) I might have to settle for reading a good review of it. I don't like Newt but did meet him on the DC Metro one time and he was actually a pretty friendly guy. Maybe I'll find a good review of his as well. (I won't be surprised if frequent commenter "Joey" finds those before I do and posts them below.)
I had not thought of hosting anything for him but that's not a bad idea. Would I have to clean my house?
As for faking sincerity, I can't see into people's souls like W can but I just don't think that's the case. He's a funny guy but I don't know that he is necessarily a great actor. In any case all I can do is go with what I observed and I think it's all real.
I don't doubt that he is less to the left than Wellstone was. I think he is a little more of a traditional Democrat than that. He strikes me as someone very much against the war in Iraq but not the sort who would propose the creation of a Department of Peace al a Keith Ellison. I'm fine with that and I bet a lot of mainstream Minnesota voters are too. And where he does push the envelope a bit I think he does it in a pretty disarming way. He had a great story about his USO shows in Iraq and his jokes about "don't ask don't tell" that I bet does more to break down barriers than any number of more confrontational methods would. He says he has gotten many letters from gay soldiers thanking him for what he has said. I'll maybe do a post about it some time or I bet you can find some of it on his web site.