Talk about Life imitating Art.
If we look at this video clip, made on Saturday Night Live in 1986, we see something that I can only rightly call “a preview of things to come.”
We get a further sign of consistency here:
I will forgive you if you do not want to watch all 36 minutes of this.
I think Al is a good comedian. His work on SNL was unique, and he did a superb job lampooning some of the more pathetic aspects of the “twelve-step recovery culture.” He made fun of politicians, both Democrat and Republican in the Correspondents Dinner. He was an effective comedian and highly regarded as such for many years.
And then, he turned up in the U.S. Senate. This is fine. In the United States, one great blessing is that anyone can be anything. So, great, we have a fairly famous comedian getting elected to public office. There is some humor running in several directions about this development. U.S. Senator from Minnesota. Interesting, right?
Predictably for a comedian that is cozy with the liberal establishment, Senator Franken established himself as a very consistent liberal Democrat, as his voting record shows.
Most of the time, Senator Franken was not very visible, though occasionally we did hear from him on major legislative issues.
“The National Journal ranked Franken tied for fifth most liberal member of the Senate in 2013. Contrast that with one of McFadden’s role models, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who was No. 13 on the list of most conservative senators.
The standard story on Franken is that he shed the fiery, biting persona he had as a liberal author and radio host when he entered the Senate and put his head down to study and work. McFadden says that’s just more show-business spin.
“A tiger doesn’t change their stripes,” he said. “He’s got this record of being hyperpartisan before he came to the Senate, and now he’s trying to manufacture and manipulate the Minnesota public to believe that he’s been some sort of statesman. He hasn’t.”
The problem with Franken’s approach, he said, is that it limits what he’s able to accomplish. Part of that is the partisanship and part of it is personality.”
Now, we have some updated scenes, with the apparent theme apparently without change.
This fall, when the wave of sexual allegations against powerful men (and one woman so far) started to roll and break, three major political casualties took place. One of these is Senator Franken, who got called out on Tweeden’s radio program in Los Angeles, complete with the photo shown above. As shown here, a total of eight women ended up speaking about the bad behavior of the Senator. Unlike the candidate Judge Roy Moore in Alabama, we had far more than mere allegations from decades ago; here we had photographic evidence and very recent witness to the senator’s behavior.
On December 7th, 2017, Senator Franken gave an emotional speech that reminds this writer of that first Saturday Night Live clip more than anything. It is telling that back in 1986 he offered naked photos of his own kids as comedy, unrepentant. In his speech on the 7th, he does not every really apologize, but rather, he acts contrite and sounds like a wide-eyed kid who has just realized for the first time that taking your clothes off in public is wrong… in other words: Not.
In fact, speculation ran in some more conspiratorial circles that Franken was biding his time with the outcome of Moore’s special election, and that it was possible that if Moore were elected, Franken would refuse to leave.
Moore lost his bid for the Senate, and Franken announced today that his own departure date is January 2nd, but now we read that there are those who do not want him to actually go. And no doubt, he does not want to actually go. In his speech this was one thing that did seem quite clear – he likes his job in the Senate and does not want to leave it.
So we are in a waiting game. What will happen next? In a simply astounding 14 month long never-ending political theatre, we may see a US Senator who promised to resign somehow find “compelling reason” to stay.
Yet, in studying the man’s personality, as expressed through his comedic life and his political life, this should not have been news. Senator Franken is a very smart man, and one can see fairly well in hindsight, that the behavior we see now is not a change at all.