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October 28, 2008

Candidate Franken

Eric from Minnesota suggested that I re-post Candidate Franken, an interview I did with Franken in the summer of 2006, shortly after Franken announced that he would run against Norm Coleman in 2008. 

I was guardedly positive about the idea before the interview. I liked Franken as a comedian, a political satirist, and a radio host--but the idea of him becoming a senator seemed a little surreal.

I emerged from the interview convinced that Franken was senatorial material.

He has an intense, supple intelligence that I find very compelling. Most politicians decide to run for office first and study up on the issues later. Franken seemed like he'd thrown his hat into the ring because he'd accumulated a critical mass of policies that he wanted to enact as a senator.

I asked him what he wanted to accomplish as a senator:

AL FRANKEN: Moving toward universal health care. If Democrats take the House, someone should introduce a bill on the first day covering every kid in the country. I don't know how you vote against that. If you go around Minnesota and you talk to people about kids who are developmentally challenged, money has been cut off for that by the Bush administration and the Republican administration in Minnesota. Yet, they're spending more money on prisons.

This is the kind of thing where if you can make a difference in those people's lives you're really making a difference. It's not about you. ... Other developed countries have universal health care, and they do it cheaper and they have better results. And we're not that much dumber than other countries. We can do this.

Renewable energy. Look into the long-term: Why are you taking money out of kids with developmental problems and putting it into prisons? That's really short-term thinking.

Trying to improve our democracy by publicly funded elections. There's all kinds of things that need to be done. Respecting science again. I would like to do a law where no political appointee can change the language of a scientific report without getting the scientists who made the report to sign off on the language change. That's a law I'd propose on the first day, I think. Have a foreign policy that makes sense, that builds on our working with the rest of world instead. [AlterNet]

I don't think I've ever formally endorsed a candidate on the blog before. Looking back at the article, I'm struck by what a long shot Franken's campaign seemed to be at the time. I kept having to explain that this wasn't just a publicity stunt.

Now, Franken's neck and neck with Norm Coleman.

I don't know if it's presumptuous to endorse candidates in other states. I've been told I talk like a Minnesotan, if that helps.

Anyway, here goes: I endorse Al Franken for US Senate.

I urge all our Minnesota readers to get out and vote for Al Franken on November 4. You'll be lucky to have him as your senator.


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Yes ma'am! I'm cautiously optimistic, though my experience canvassing this weekend showed what the polls show: not all Obama voters are firmly on the Franken bandwagon. I tried to pitch them on how Obama is going to need every vote in Congress possible to help him accomplish what he wants to. It's nice to be reminded that Franken would be a serious legislator in his own right, too.

Oh, and the Star Tribune, which usually has a reliably progressive editorial page, annoyingly endorsed Coleman. I'm not completely convinced that the editors are actually going to vote their endorsement, but man that was not helpful.

WTF, sTrib?

As a New Yorker, I only wish Franken had a shot at one our state's senate seats. Unfortunately, Clinton and Schumer aren't going anywhere. So, Franken had to return to his beloved Minnesota to seize the opportunity.

Minnesotans, don't miss this chance.

Chris O.,

Last year the Star-Tribune was taken over by new management, which fired half of the reporting staff. A lot of the old editors left the paper too. It's not the same outfit it once was.

A local blogger was pointing out the Strib's endorsement of Congressman John Kline (R) this year, and contrasted it with their endorsement of Kline's opponent (Coleen Rowley) in 2006, noting that two years ago, the Strib cited as one reason Kline's very conservative voting record. Kline has a credible opponent again this year who's run a much better organized campaign than Rowley, and Kline's voting record hasn't changed, and yet, the Strib likes him now.

Hmm, I hadn't thought about the Avista angle. I suppose that might very well be what caused it. I figured that they did it to try to appear bipartisan and appeal to people of all political persuasions, but that very well might be because of Avista ordering them to do so. That just sucks.

You talk like a Minnesotan to about the same extent I talk like a Mexican.

The "Supply-Side Jesus" comic in Lies was so vicious I still sometimes want Franken to lose. The only redeeming feature he has is that he'll bring the Democrats one seat closer to 60.

i felt exactly that way about franken !! And feel, as you do, that he'll be excellent. Now if only Garrison Keillor would run we'd have one state all straightened around.

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