Senator Amy Klobuchar — Minnesota’s own 2020 Democrat presidential candidate — appeared for an interview on Special Report with Bret Baier yestereday. The video clip is accessible here. I thought the interview showed Senator Klobuchar’s at her best. She was likable. She did well.
Her campaign theme — we need to stop governing from chaos and move to opportunity — needs some work. It seems to me to have been retrieved from Being There. It is stunningly empty.
Bret Baier was a friendly interviewer. He credited her with moderation and bipartisan legislative accomplishment. I think her moderation is mostly fake, but she disclaimed socialism. She proclaimed herself a supporter of capitalism. She also expressed unequivocal support of Israel. Given the current environment of the Democratic Party, she deserves credit. I was impressed.
But good grief! Bret, let’s take a look at her supposed bipartisan legislative accomplishment.
Former funnyman and former Minnesota Senator Al Franken titled his memoir Al Franken, Giant of the Senate. He posed for the book’s self-mocking cover. The title and the photograph made a small concession to self-awareness, or to the public relations value of pretending self-awareness, but he deserves credit for the thought. It was a joke.
Senator Klobuchar pretends no such self-awareness. With the active assistance of her hometown newspaper and its counterparts on the national stage, Klobuchar holds herself out as a giant of the Senate. She has a certain genius for avoiding outspoken stands on important issues and leading the way on trivial matters calculated to garner broad public support. If she secures a favorable headline or two in the process, it’s no coincidence. It is the true object of her efforts.
Senator Klobuchar is a reliable vote for the Democratic Party line, but she is quiet about it. She doesn’t want to upset anybody. She wants the reputation of a problem-solver who is above nasty partisanship. She wants to be deemed a giant of the Senate, without the irony.
Senator Klobuchar has attached her name to many bills that don’t amount to much, such as the proposed 2015 bill to resolve the crisis of the detergent pod. It represents the reductio ad absurdum of the vacuity to which she has reduced herself in the service of self-promotion. She relies on such vacuity to present herself as the true giant of the Senate.
Senator Klobuchar has indeed been ranked the most productive senator with bills passed into law. That’s supposed to be a good thing. The ranking relied on data compiled by Medill News Service from the tracking website GovTrack for the 114th Congress (Jan 6, 2015-Jan 3, 2017). Klobuchar was found to have sponsored or co-sponsored 27 bills that had been enacted into law in the session.
Klobuchar touted her accomplishment in a December 2016 press release. The Star Tribune dutifully followed up in a story by Allison Sherry entirely lacking in analysis. In terms of “productivity,” Franken ranked right up there with Klobuchar. Perhaps they were both giants of the Senate.
Klobuchar earned recognition with 27 bills that she sponsored or co-sponsored. They are set forth here. Five of the 27 bills concern naming or renaming federal facilities. The late 18-term Eighth District Congressman Jim Obersrtar loomed large in Klobuchar’s accomplishment, such as it was. Most of the rest of the bills carrying Klobuchar’s name amount to little more than nothing. Even so, Klobuchar’s bill to resolve the crisis of the detergent pod apparently didn’t make it. (She claimed credit for action taken by Procter & Gamble on its own.)
I haven’t observed much of a sense of humor in Senator Klobuchar’s public persona, but anyone who looks into her claim to legislative fame will find a good joke hidden in it.