And Franken Makes 60
As a political writer and blogger, I applaud the decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court that effectively made Alan Stuart Franken the junior senator from Minnesota for the next six years.
Of course, it's not such a good thing for Republicans, considering that the Democrats have added another body to their already huge majority. But Franken in the Senate will pay dividends for both the party and us bloggers far into the future, as long as he remains above ground and has the ability to open his mouth -- all the better to stick his foot in it.
Al Franken is a bat guano crazy liberal who has more in common with the wild-eyed radical leftist fringe of the Democratic Party than your run-of-the-mill liberal like John Kerry or Ted Kennedy. But what will make him such a great target will be his rabid, unbridled, hateful partisanship. Al Franken has made it crystal clear in his incarnations as comedy writer, radio host, and author that he loathes Republicans and conservatives. It is a pathological, almost clinical condition that will explode from time to time in bitter denunciation of the opposition, supplying bloggers and commentators with a cornucopia of material.
And lest we forget (actually, it was never publicized), Franken's psychosis extends to a hatred of Christians -- especially Catholics. I can laugh at some jokes at the expense of Christians as long as they are in reasonably good taste and avoid defaming Christ or Christian symbolism. Such restraints have never been a part of Franken's shtick.
This piece by Katherine Kersten in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune last October should be dusted off and examined -- especially by Franken's new colleagues -- now that he is about to have a seat in the "greatest deliberative body in the world:"
Franken finds Christ’s crucifixion to be a barrel of laughs. For example, in his 1999 book, Why Not Me? he wrote about his discovery — as a fictional former president — of “the complete skeleton of Jesus Christ still nailed to the cross” during an archeological dig. At the Franken Presidential Library gift shop, visitors can buy “small pieces of Jesus’ skeleton.”
“We would like to display Jesus’ skeleton at some future point,” Franken went on. “It’s merely a matter of designing and building an exhibition space. … Until then he’s very comfortable in a box down in our basement near the geothermal power station.”
It isn't that Franken didn't know his spiel would offend people. The transgression is that he knew full well it was a hurtful thing to write and he did it anyway. Imagine a personality like that in the Senate, a most collegial body and dependent on each member being tolerant to a fault.
His bigotry against Catholics is, if anything, even more nauseating:
In 2006, he and a guest on his Air America radio show joked about Eucharistic communion wafers — sacred to Catholics as the body of Christ — and compared them to chips and guacamole. In “Dog Confessional,” a proposed sketch for Saturday Night Live, Franken depicted “a series of dogs, played by cast members, confessing to a priest,” according to the Washington Post. NBC refused to air it.
In another book, Franken described greeting a New York audience with the words, “Isn’t Cardinal O’Connor an asshole?”
Old news, you say? Maybe we just "don't get" satire? No worse than Monty Python's Life of Brian? Perhaps not. But then Graham Chapman and the boys aren't senators.
Franken has obviously learned in the interim to subsume his anti-Christian bigotry beneath a veneer of cynical political double-talk. But if we're not going to hold our elected officials to minimum standards of tolerance and respect for differing religions, races, and ethnic backgrounds, why should we expect the rest of us to behave any better?
Minnesotans are such nice, sane people ordinarily, you wonder what possessed them to vote in such large numbers for this bigoted neophyte. The fact is, Minnesotans are indeed nice, sane people who had it up to here with the Republican Party -- so much so that the nice, sane moderate conservative Norm Coleman was forced to suffer the consequences.
Coleman didn't deserve to lose, especially in this fashion, to a comedian. Then again, we don't deserve to be forced to put up with the cretins in Washington who are running the Republican Party. "Deserve" has got nothing to do with it. Republicans have soiled their own bed and now must lie in it until, forced from below to reform, they come to their senses and initiate changes that will unite the factions and make the party competitive again.
That is in the future. Right now, Republicans must deal with the fact that the Democrats have 60 votes and a "filibuster proof" majority. On paper, this is true. But as Jay Cost reminds us, the realty is a little more prosaic:
A filibuster-proof majority is great for the party that has it, but it has its limits. On purely party-line votes, perhaps procedural stuff, it should make a difference. But, on the really big stuff, what will matter is the preferences of the individual legislators.
The bonds of partisanship are relatively weak in the United States Congress, and especially weak in the Senate. This limits the power that the party in the chamber has over its members.
Indeed, as Cost points out, moderates from both parties hold the whip hand now. The problem from a conservative perspective is that they will be compromising on Obama agenda items -- sort of like choosing between drinking hemlock and being bitten by a black Mamba. Either way you're dead but the hemlock acts a little slower.
On some important procedural matters, the Democrats will prevail and prevent a GOP filibuster now that Franken will be seated. But those votes will be few and far between. What should be news is that the Senate now has a very liberal, hyper-partisan member who has a history of going into uncontrolled fits of rage, and has a demonstrated intolerance of Christians.
One wonders who Franken will help more in the long run.