With the DFL state convention just around the corner, a few words on the endorsement for US Senate:
Democrats have a right to feel disappointment in Franken, who should have scoured his accounting and publication history two years ago, to get his accounting situation in order and make some effort to inoculate himself with regard to his outré-to-Laura Brod writings. Even after Ciresi dropped out, Franken didn't get to work on either of these tasks. Nor did he get to work on either when it became obvious Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer would not mount a full-court press for the endorsement. So we're left somewhat mystified by what Al Franken might have been thinking. My guess: He's uninterested in financial issues to such an extent that he avoids even seeking out far-sighted, rigorous accounting advice. On the publications, he likely sought solace in self-delusion, convincing himself they wouldn't get dug up. Having surveyed the political landscape in Minnesota, he should have learned faster of the very aggressive right-wing spin machine, which has probably read through every Franken-bylined publication and more by now.
Some have argued that Nelson-Pallmeyer is the new Wellstone. But remember, in 1990 Wellstone faced no serious intra-party opposition as he sought the endorsement for US Senate. He had run statewide before (for State Auditor, in 1982, losing to Arne Carlson) and had spent the subsequent half-decade crisscrossing the state forging friendships with veterans, Native Americans, labor and liberals, while maintaining his full-time teaching position at Carleton. Nelson-Pallmeyer isn't now in a remotely comparable position to the May 1990 Wellstone.
Delegates to the DFL state convention are among those Minnesotans most likely to view the recent charges against Franken as the product of a Ron Carey/Michael Brodkorb dirty tricks machine. Inertia plods towards a Franken nomination. The one person who might credibly have been able to articulate a tough-love argument against Franken's viability--Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer--refused to do so. And the most recent polling (with Franken trailing Coleman by just a few points) suggests that Franken may weather the storm.
Minnesota Monitor's Steve Perry says Ciresi is likely to jump into the primary, and Betty McCollum is mounting a bluenose attack on Franken, possibly on Ciresi's behalf. Ciresi is that rare charisma-free centimillionaire; one wonders how he can perceive a politician within himself. If Ciresi is on the record repeatedly promising not to challenge the delegates' decision in Rochester next week--as Franken states in his Esme Murphy interview, discussed below--then a Ciresi challenge is unlikely to succeed. Perhaps more DFL challengers might enter the race, but the moral disapprobation DFL stalwarts aim at primary challengers will unite activists around Franken. For all the discontent some have directed toward Franken, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which he's not the DFL candidate in November.
Men not infrequently tell dirty jokes; Playboy Magazine is among the tamest forums in which such discourse is published. It bears mentioning that Franken's eight-year-old Playboy piece is not in fact offensive at all; it is mildly funny. The candidate is right to defend his prior profession as a satirist and refuse to get into a line-by-line exegesis in cooperation with the hypocritical.
Franken was interviewed the other day by Esme Murphy. Murphy sets up the interview calling attention to Porn-o-rama (Franken's January 2000 Playboy piece): The Saturday Night Live comedian wrote about visiting a made-up sex institute where he took part in sexual acts with humans and machines. (That's Murphy's amazingly constipated, hyperliteralist introduction.) I mean, it's a work of fiction; Murphy is engaging in the leap of the illiterate to equate a fictional first-person narrator with its author. (We are unsurprised to learn that the woman who had such difficulty pronouncing Ashwin Madia also has difficulty with Mr. Franken's first name: She refers to him as All.) When Murphy addresses Franken face-to-face, she broaches the topic with both hands in the air, attempting to embody the outrage she perceives in her viewers. Murphy says the article is not an easy read and There are going to be people who are offended by it. So Murphy is engaging in Sixty Minutes-style grandstanding, pretending to be asking a question while actually sucking up to the gallery, pretending to be offended. TV.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Al Franken with Press Secretary Jess McIntosh
at the April 12 CD3 DFL Convention
Posted by Gavin Sullivan at 7:42 PM