The Franken factor

Al Franken remains in hiding. He holds his silence. He is, uncharacteristically, biting his tongue, hoping to ride out the storm that has followed Leeann Tweeden’s story.

Franken’s scandal represents a crossover between the world of show business in which he made his career and the world of politics in which he has sought to become a champion of the left. Here former Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone was his model. After Wellstone’s premature death in 2002, Minnesota Democrats proudly expressed their extravagant belief in Wellstone with the irreverent question What Would Wellstone Do? They can’t help but let us know that, for them, politics is religion.

Franken would answer the Wellstone question in his own way. He sought to play Paul’s apostle.

I saw Franken speak about Wellstone at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in 2005, I think, when he was mulling over the transition from show business to politics. He proclaimed Wellstone his hero. He was thinking about how best to carry Wellstone’s gospel to the heathen.

On June 11, 2005, Franken tried out the transition with an appearance before Minnesota Democrats at a fundraiser held at the University of Minnesota’s Mann Hall. At the time Franken was doing his thing on Air America from New York City. He was not even a Minnesota resident. I was invited by the Minnesota Democrats to attend Franken’s appearance and wrote it up in detail in “Saturday night live with Al Franken.”

Based on what I saw, I reported that Franken would make a plausible political candidate. He spoke at something like Castroite length and tickled the ivories in a relentlessly leftist key. As a political candidate before a friendly crowd, Franken added the element of transgression. He exceeded the usual bounds of discourse in talking about his prospective opponent, incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman. Franken’s transgression won him titters (no pun intended) from an audience of true believers, but he toned down his act when he returned to Minnesota to run for office.

As he crossed over from show business to politics, Franken carried his freestyle approach to breasts and buttocks with him. The Daily Caller has compiled a collection of the known photographs of Franken groping women. To the political world’s standard grip and grin Franken has introduced a novelty. He has added the grope and grin.

I wonder what the editors of the Star Tribune make of it all. Franken swims in their element. Should he stay or should he go? Not that Franken would follow their advice. Franken’s gonna do what Franken’s gonna do, or (in this case) Franken’s not gonna do what Franken’s not gonna do. He ain’t goin’ nowhere.

The decorous left-wing editors of the Star Tribune pretend to render their judgment in an editorial declaring that Franken’s behavior can’t be excused. What, however, does that mean? They don’t excuse Frankens’s behavior. They disapprove it. Let there be no mistake about that. Franken himself doesn’t excuse his behavior, so the Star Tribune’s editors have added precisely nothing to the suffocating correctness of the climate of opinion in Minnesota.

The editors of the Star Tribune await the results of an investigation. In the meantime, they express their disappointment. Hey, that’s no way for Paul’s apostle to behave.

I think we have enough information to come to judgment. The Democrats should stand by their man. They should suffer for him. In every way he is their avatar.

We (I) don’t want Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to appoint his replacement. Please, no. He has done more than enough damage already.

And Franken can finally prove himself good for something. He can make himself useful as a graphic illustration of the eternal double standard applicable to Democrats behaving badly.

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