Thanks to Republican resignation, Al Franken is close to becoming the monster the right has long dreaded.
Among other things, Mary Shelley’s masterpiece of Gothic horror, Frankenstein, warns of the dangers of letting ambition push a man to aim beyond what he is capable of achieving.
What a happy coincidence it is that former funnyman Al Franken, the Democrats’ would-be 59th U.S. senator from Minnesota, has a surname so close to one of literature’s most famous cautionary tales.
Although Franken is not quite the misunderstood monster that in Shelley’s classic story was cobbled together from the scavenged body parts of the dead, he is nonetheless manifestly unsuited for public office, a fact that reared its head repeatedly throughout last year’s campaign. Now that a Minnesota court last night ruled in Franken’s favor and declared him winner in the state’s dead-heat Senate race, a monstrous outcome is that much closer to becoming reality.
Stopping Franken from taking a seat in the Senate has been a noble endeavor, especially given that the leveling Democrats are so close to attaining the 60-seat supermajority that might allow them to transmogrify America, turning it decisively away from whatever’s left of its original limited government foundations and remaking it into a European-style socialist nation.
For conservatives, it hardly needs to be pointed out that Franken is a fundamentally unserious and untested figure worthy of ridicule. After being isolated in the echo chamber of the entertainment-media-academia complex where he got nothing but praise for decades, Franken is quite unsuited for the world outside. He cannot tolerate criticism and characteristically responds to it with over-the-top vitriolic attacks. He is the living embodiment of all the horrible things that conservatives fairly or unfairly impute to DailyKos bloggers.
Franken, whom I thought was often funny before he got into politics, has the volatile temperament of an artist, not a statesman. Recall that after one debate last year Franken’s wife had to pull the candidate away from incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman. Franken could not get out of Coleman’s face and stop arguing and he couldn’t understand why it was not acceptable for him to continue invading Coleman’s personal space. Liberals may applaud Franken for his passion, but most people encountering a person behaving that way might reach for the pepper spray — just in case.
For a man who preaches class warfare and salvation through Big Government with the same enthusiasm that a Baptist preacher exudes in delivering a sermon about fire and brimstone, Franken’s hypocrisy is breathtaking. This is the case even in the age of tax cheats Timothy Geithner, Tom Daschle, and Charles Rangel.
One incident from the early part of the campaign is particularly instructive.
During a debate in 2007, Franken reportedly tried to burnish his business credentials. “I’m a corporation, I employ a bunch of people,” he said. “I love corporations that play by the rules, and we have to make them play by the rules.”
But we now know that Franken’s corporation didn’t bother to carry the required workers’ compensation insurance in New York State for employees who helped the comedian with his work from 2002 to 2005. He reportedly ignored New York officials until the heat of the Senate campaign. Eventually he forked over a $25,000 fine to the Empire State.
From 2003 to 2007, his personal corporation didn’t get around to filing corporate income tax returns in California, and by April of last year, Franken was forced to pay a total of $70,000 in income tax arrears in 17 states for tax bills stretching back to 2003. He blamed his accountant and said he expects to get some of the money back.
Conservatives detest Franken, and rightly so, but the Republican punditry is losing interest in keeping up the fight against the former Saturday Night Live star.
In November the feeling in Republican circles was that Franken was trying to be a usurper: If he couldn’t win in a Democratic sweep, he couldn’t win ever. But now after so many months of legal warfare many prominent Republicans seem resigned to a Franken victory over incumbent Coleman.
Two respected National Review Online writers use reasonable enough sounding arguments to urge Coleman to throw in the towel, but their words betray their weariness over the protracted post-election fight.
Ramesh Ponnuru makes a concise argument for surrender:
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online