Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Senator Al-lan Franken

Just over two years ago, in an Irish Pub in Minneapolis, I sat down with members of Team Franken. The skeletal staff was 'picking the brains' of local bloggers. I was lukewarm at the time, not having settled on a candidate yet. I paid my own tab.

A few months later, I ran into Mr. Franken himself at the 331 Club. We had a candid conversation, where I challenged him on his war stance.
I took a moment to talk about Iraq, the surge, and what the next steps should be. Al's knowledge of the region, his interaction with the troops and Iraqi citizens during his USO excursions, was refreshing. He knows what he is talking about, and it is coming from experiences not advisers and major party talking points.
We didn't agree on much, that evening, but that didn't mean he was going to move on. He spent a nice chunk of time, explaining to me why I was wrong, the importance of the region, and why he felt the way he did. His first priority, it seemed, was not to win my vote, but to make sure I understood why he believed what he did, especially since it was different from my view. It was that evening that Satirist Al Franken, became Candidate Al Franken to me.

Today, the long wait is over, and on the very same bible used by Paul Wellstone, Candidate Franken becomes Senator Allan Franken of Minnesota.
"It is, of course, technically true that this was Paul's U.S. Senate seat. But I don't think Paul saw it that way," Franken said Wednesday, again paying respects to Wellstone.

"This seat belongs to the people of Minnesota, and so did Sen. Wellstone, and so will I," he said as he thanked his wife, Franni, supporters, volunteers, campaign staff members and the people of the state he will represent.

Now, Franken takes on what could be the most influential role of his life as he joins the Senate
The Right, and their fits of rage, have set the bar so low that maintaining a heart beat will be a success, but that won't do for the new junior Senator from Minnesota. He is a policy wonk with priorities. He will hit the ground running, he will show up all those naysayers and become the honorable and respectful man that he is.

Congratulations to Team Franken for a hard fought and well deserved victory. But most importantly, Godspeed to the new Senator!. Today is a day to celebrate, tomorrow we roll up our sleeves and get things done!


UPDATE: From the Fix:
Franken would do well to follow the examples set by Kennedy and Clinton during their own first years in the Senate. Both came into the body as celebrities -- one was the youngest son of the most famous family in Democratic politics, the other was a former first lady -- and impressed their colleagues by adopting a low-key demeanor that played well in a workplace where each of the 100 employees believes that he or she is the most important man or woman in the world.

One longtime Republican Senate strategist offered two pieces of advice for Franken if he truly wanted to change the way his GOP colleagues perceive him.

First, "be serious," which to be frank (pun intended), Senator Al appears already to be doing.

Second, "vote against the party on something he believes in," a vote of conscience that would show GOPers that Franken is not simply a rank partisan but a thoughtful legislator with a commitment to issues.

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