Politics

What Does Al Franken's Belated Senate Win Mean? Not Much, Says Wash Post

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Incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) has burned through millions of dollars in Republican Party cash in a losing bid to challenge and reverse last fall's election. He has now officially conceded, with all the grace of a fox chasing sour grapes. Thus, funnyman Al Franken will now take the stage as a senator from the Land of 10,000 Lakes and no NHL team.[*]

What does adding another Dem to the World's Greatest Blah Blah Blah Body? Not much, says the Wash Post:

First, it definitely does not mean that Democrats have a filibuster-proof ticket to passing whatever they want. Though technically Democrats have now reached the magic number of 60 senators, it's worth remembering that for practical purposes, the majority may have just 58. Edward Kennedy is still receiving cancer treatments in Massachusetts, and Robert Byrd is now home from the hospital but with no timeframe for returning to the Senate. When the major procedural votes happen on health care and other issues, will either of those aging legends be able to get to the Senate floor? The question may sound indelicate, but as David Espo writes, "Neither man has been in the Capitol for weeks, and it is not known when, or even whether, they will return."

Second, even if Democrats do have 60 votes, there's no guarantee of unanimity, as the ongoing intraparty disputes over health care illustrate…. Beyond health care, unions are also touting Franken's win as another step toward passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, or "card check" bill. But that measure isn't at the finish line yet either, with multiple Democrats still opposed or at least hedging on it. Climate change is also a long ways from consensus in the chamber.

That said, if having a full-time job keeps Franken from imitating Mick Jagger ever again, then it's all good.

Back in May, I puzzled over what the extended battle between Franken and Coleman, which meant Minnesota had but one vote in the Senate, taught America. The short version: The U.S. Senate is a carrying more dead weight than an Uruguayan rugby team.

Correction: As several readers point out in the comments, Minnesota does indeed have a post-North (pronounced No) Stars hockey squad, the Minnesota Wild. I regret the mistake and my face is as red as Gump Worsley's after taking a puck to his maskless mush.

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  1. What do you mean “no NHL team”?

    What about the Wild?

  2. I think Gillespie traveled back in time to when the NorthStars sold their soul to the devil, aka Dallas, TX.

  3. “So vote for me, Ted Taglione! You’ll be glad you did!”

  4. LOL, it means he is a major EGG HEAD!

    TRT
    http://www.complete-privacy.tk

  5. From an e-mail I got from a Minneapolis resident cousin, who probably swings DFL more often than not and definately was not a Bush supporter:

    Minnesota finally sent a senator to Washington today. What a joke sending an idiot like
    Franken. Nothing surprises me from here on out now that a knucklehead like that can become a senator.

  6. The no NHL team error cries out for a retraction.

  7. Don’t forget Norm was the guy “who brought hockey back to MN” in the form of the Wild.

    Of course he did that by sticking the taxpayers with the bill for the Excel Energy center to the tune of $130 million (I think).

    He also did his best to get the Twins a sweetheart deal too.

    The thing I will miss most about him is his spot on imitation of Mayor Quimby.

  8. I continue to underestimate the resilience of Byrd. I’m almost certain he’ll die soon, so the fine folk of West Virginia can elect Zombie Robert Byrd.

  9. Second, even if Democrats do have 60 votes, there’s no guarantee of unanimity

    No? Well maybe not. But I’d be willing to bet the Dems won’t lose a single vote with less than five dissenting Democrats. There’s no getting around the advantage a super majority gives one party. Add in the House and POTUS and you get blah blah blah doomcakes.

    But no one’s talking about the real tragedy here. This protracted contesting of the vote, has taken all the funny out of Al Fraken being a Senator. We could have gotten a couple of months of yucks between the election and when they took office.

  10. What? No one is looking forward to his awkwardly unfunny floor speeches where he cracks a smile at his own jokes and pauses for the chamber to chuckle, which never comes? I’m delighted by the youtube possibilities.

    Who I really want to see as a senator is Norm MacDonald but unfortunately, he’s Canadian. His Conan appearance with Courtney Thorne-Smith is still one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Pure. Comedy. Gold.

  11. Electing people with no experience or proven aptitude for leadership is always a good thing.

  12. Electing people with no experience or proven aptitude for leadership is always a good thing.

    Hey, it worked for Obama.

  13. Pure. Comedy. Gold.

    Nick, you always end with three words and three intermittent periods.
    What’s. With. That?

  14. Maybe they can elect Garrison Keeler to fill the other seat. I don’t think it changes the dynamics of the Senate much. And if the Dems want Frankin to be their face, I wish them luck.

  15. Who I really want to see as a senator is Norm MacDonald but unfortunately, he’s Canadian.

    But he could get naturalized and run for the Senate. There’s no “natural born” requirement there.

    Besides, I read on the internet that our new Kenyan-born president with his fake Hawaian Birth Certificate had voided that whole “natural born” requirement anyway.

  16. Maybe they can elect Garrison Keeler to fill the other seat.

    No, I think the constitution says there can only be one unfunny pompous windbag from any state.

  17. We could make an exception for Minnisota. I am quite sure that leftist windbags from Minnisota look at people from places like Georgia as ignorant knuckle dragging rednecks. Yet, the Minnisotans are the ones who elected a pompus unfunny clown as their Senator.

  18. But I’d be willing to bet the Dems won’t lose a single vote with less than five dissenting Democrats.

    Five might be a little high, but the Dems can reliably buy off some of the weaker-minded Repubs for any program to expand the Total State, so I tend to agree.

    While legislation may get to the floor with “only” 60 votes for cloture, I seriously doubt that having Coleman instead of Franken in the Senate would mean that the legislation would have failed. The Dems would have just upped their bidding until the vote of another weak-minded opponent of the legislation was bought and delivered.

  19. The media is totally overplaying the significance of the Democrats technically having 60 votes. Moderates in both parties routinely defect to the other side on individual votes. The number 60 is only magical if all 60 Democrats vote together all the time. But this isn’t how it works.

  20. Franken is good enough, he’s smart enough, and doggone it, people like him!

    Also, he looks like an old lesbian.

  21. Electing people with no experience or proven aptitude for leadership is always a good thing.

    Evidently so; none of the other Greatest Deliberators seem to have any proven aptitude for anything other than winning elections.

  22. Gillespie, read your fucking comments–there has been an NHL team in Minnesota since 2000.

    There is nothing more embarrassing than an obviously ignorant smartass.

  23. The number 60 is only magical if all 60 Democrats vote together all the time. But this isn’t how it works.

    Ha! I’d agree if they could find someone else to go along with them, but try being the only Democratic senator to defect on any given vote… See what the party will do to you.

  24. Nick, you always end with three words and three intermittent periods.
    What’s. With. That?

    Peter, I rarely do this. Lots of other people do it quite often though, mostly here at H&R. In the above case I used it for emphasis, which is why I assumed others use the grammatically incorrect technique.

  25. I think he’s saying that Minnesota doesn’t have an NHL team in the same sense Michigan doesn’t have an NFL team.

    Oh, and a lot of those lakes are just ponds, by the way.

  26. Ha! I’d agree if they could find someone else to go along with them, but try being the only Democratic senator to defect on any given vote… See what the party will do to you.

    What can they do? They can reassign you to a small basement office, mess with your committee assignments, make it difficult to raise campaign cash. They can recruit someone to run against you. More likely they’ll whisper behind your back and bend over backward to accommodate you so it doesn’t happen again. If it’s more than you can handle, you announce your decision to caucus with the Republicans. Fixed.

  27. Well, they were in the playoffs two out of the last three years and sell out all their games. Other than that, sure they resemble the Lions.

    More ignorance.

  28. So now Minnesota has elected a pro wrestler as its governor, and an utterly unfunny comedian as its senator. I’m thinking being the only state to go for Mondale in 84 was a harbinger of the oddness to come.

  29. Is the NHL still in business?

  30. Ignorance of the NHL is only a good thing, I’m afraid. But I know the Philadelphia Penguins won the Stanford Cup this year, so that should count for something.

  31. “Ignorance of the NHL is only a good thing, I’m afraid. But I know the Philadelphia Penguins won the Stanford Cup this year, so that should count for something.”

    Yeah…but if it wasn’t for that last minute field goal they never could have pulled it off.

  32. What’s with all the NHL hate? None of y’all must be from the DC area. We have a hot young team, and the BEST player in the world.

  33. I’m thinking being the only state to go for Mondale in 84 was a harbinger of the oddness to come.

    When it comes to oddness, I think Wisconsin is still the only state to have had two former TV news anchors in the House of Representatives at the same time (1997-1999; Jay Johnson‘s only term and Scott Klug‘s final term).

  34. I’m sure the NHL haters are soccer pussies.

  35. Americans hate hockey because of the uneradicable taint that Canada has cast over the entire sport. Hockey stinks of Canada and Canadaness. The very word “hockey” sounds like a sneeze from an impacted Canuck sinus. Those frosty maple suckers can have their mongrel sport back, hopefully to retreat to the Arctic desolation from whence they came.

  36. No, I’m a squash pussy thank you very much.

  37. Squash pussy?

    Holy Statistically Improbable Phrase, Batman!

  38. Shouldn’t the headline read:

    What Does Bloated Al Franken’s Belated Senate Win Mean? Not Much, Says Wash Post

  39. No, I think the constitution says there can only be one unfunny pompous windbag from any state.

    I believe the Constitutional limit is two per state.

  40. > No, I think the constitution says there can only be one unfunny pompous windbag from any state.

    >> I believe the Constitutional limit is two per state.

    Good deal. Now for a little lunch.

  41. Edward Kennedy is still receiving cancer treatments…Robert Byrd is now home from the hospital

    We have the technology to keep their brains alive in jars. Those jars can be placed on their Senate desks, next to microphones. This will be an improvement.

  42. The Republican’s seem to be having an off-season very similar to the train wreck that is the Bronco’s off season. It is absolutly amazing. When it rains it pours. All that is left is for Ron Paul to retire, McCain to become Senate Minority Leader and, Nancy Pelosi to switch parties.

    BTW

    Fuck the Wild go Avs.

  43. Personally, I would be happy if my taxes went to pay 535 cinder blocks each $250,000 a year to sit in Congress.

  44. Is it ignorant to be ignorant of an ignorant activity?

    (I confess to enjoying auto racing, but only because I see it as one of the least ignorant sports)

  45. I think that hockey has never really caught on with American fans because it’s not a very TV-friendly sport.

    And I don’t even mean that in the traditional “you can’t see the puck or what’s happening behind the play” way, either. I mean it’s not TV-friendly in the sense that there’s not enough structure to the play to give television commentators something to talk about.

    For football and basketball, you can build a thirty minute show around talking about a single team’s offense. The NFL network actually HAS such shows now. You can talk intelligently about what every player on the field in football and basketball should be doing on every play, and how what they do or fail to do contributes to the success of the play, and there’s jargon for everything. Sports nuts LOVE THAT SHIT.

    For hockey once you get beyond “dig in the corners” and “stand up at the blue line” and “go to the net” there’s very little even a Canadian broadcaster can actually say about what’s going on. Hockey is satisfying viscerally, but it’s tough to really analyze, and if it can’t be analyzed TV and sports radio won’t have a lot of use for it – and without that promotion and attraction, it’s hard to get more than a foothold in American sports consciousness.

  46. Any reason why the WaPo article isn’t linked here, so we don’t have to go search for the whole thing? I kinda like context.

  47. > No, I think the constitution says there can only be one unfunny pompous windbag from any state.

    >> I believe the Constitutional limit is two per state.

    I concur, witness the political miracle that is Massachusetts…Kerry & Kennedy. Is there anyone more pompus, more unfunny, more windbaggy than these two clowns?

  48. Come on! Ted Kennedy’s fucking hilarious.

  49. “That said, if having a full-time job keeps Franken from imitating Mick Jagger ever again, then it’s all good.”

    On the other hand, he did a great gay wolfman opposite John Travolta’s faggy Dracula. But then I liked “Stuart Saves His Family.” And I’m the only one who’s ever seen it!

  50. OK. So we got a correction on the whole forgetting the “Wild” thing, but how about the far more egregious transgression, using the term “funnyman” to describe Franken? At best, I’ll grant “former funnyman”.

  51. Franken won by 312 votes, according to a report I saw. I bet 312 of the people who voted for Franken (or Coleman) have already died since the election.

    Profound observation, eh?

  52. Fluffy, that’s an interesting analysis, but i think SugarFree nailed it already.

  53. Issac
    only from a distance…up close not so much hilarious but scary and not a little creepy…just like a real circus clown

  54. Hockey is satisfying viscerally, but it’s tough to really analyze, and if it can’t be analyzed TV and sports radio won’t have a lot of use for it – and without that promotion and attraction, it’s hard to get more than a foothold in American sports consciousness.

    So, if I understand you, Fluffy, you’re saying that Americans demand that their sports have an intellectual dimension that hockey lack.

    I might point out that whatever difficulties hockey has in being analyzed to death, soccer shares in spades.

  55. In the book “Saturday Night,” there’s an anecdote about Franken trying to put a joke in the week’s show excoriating an NBC executive who was found to have missed paying some old taxes.


  56. I might point out that whatever difficulties hockey has in being analyzed to death, soccer shares in spades.

    Oh, yeah. Soccer is a long, hot, slow, boring, but laudably nonviolent (from a non-aggression-principle perspective) version of hockey, only without sticks.

  57. Hopefully Al Franken won’t suffer from foot-in-mouth syndrome throughout his term in Congress. So far he’s done a good job keeping the jokes to a minimum and taking his election seriously. MSNBC claims Al will have to tune down his inner comic to be accepted on the floor. http://www.newsy.com/videos/franken_funnyman_or_senator

  58. I am looking forward to CSPAN-2 coverage of the Senate Floor, with Al Franken showing up every Tuesday in Heath Ledger Joker makeup, and every Thursday as Stuart Smalley. Maybe every Wednesday, he can pick a major bill working its way through Congress and analyze it in the spirit of his catchphrase, “What does this mean for me … Al Franken?”

    I mean, there has to be an upside to Minnesota’s propensity to elect entertainers to high political office. Doesn’t there?

  59. I have to agree with Fluffy. While I’m a huge hockey fan, I know it doesn’t have the stats to analyze like the other sports. Like someone once said, “The ice is white, the puck is black, the puck goes in the net, and the red light goes on. How hard is that to understand?” It’s a more nuanced sport, and you have to be a fan to really get the ‘small ball’ parts of the game.

    Hockey is the best sport to watch live, but it just doesn’t have the Monday Morning Quarterback analysis potential.

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