Al Franken: Minnesota's New Senator

June 30, 2009 by barbara

barbara writes

barbara was out and about with one of her grands all afternoon. We ended up killing time (so to speak) at Fort Snelling Cemetery, while waiting for the flight of friends to arrive from LA at the nearby airport. Checked out the grave ID software. Very user-friendly for survivors. We have lots of family buried there. We took our friends home. Then we popped into Target to pick up some stuff and finally, moseyed home ourselves. A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times, and I wasn’t there!!!

OMG! While I was gone, the Minnesota Supreme Court finally rendered its unanimous verdict that Al Franken is Minnesota’s really, truly senator-elect. I raced to the Clotheslineblog, assuming someone would be all over this. Oh, wait. I’m someone.

Ver.dict. My spider webby Latin (aka, spiderimus webbimus) suggests that that word verdict either means green talk (I told you it was long ago) or truth speak. Truth speak it is. And not a moment too soon.

Courtesy of The Uptake, here’s the 32-page ruling.

Norm Coleman conceded. And at 6:15 p.m., Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty signed the election certificate. More.

Though I do not have a close, personal relationship with Al, a pal of mine does. He talked to Al this afternoon, and said our new senator is ecstatic (my word, not his). Small wonder.

For months, Minnesota voters have twisted slowly in the wind, lamenting our lack of representation. Frankly, we've been feeling pretty abused. Well, tell that sad story to Amy Klobuchar, who, along with her staff, has done double, double duty since January. Cry about our anguish to Al and Franni. To Al’s legal team. And yes, even to Norm and Laurie Coleman.

This process has taken a huge toll. And don’t even get me started on the mega-bucks expended on this legal tussle. It’s going to take a long time for wounds and bank accounts to heal. Admittedly, it will be more of a rum go for the GOP side, given the outcome.

Just so you know? I’m not going all squishy about Norm Coleman. Isn’t going to happen. Ever.

Some pundits are saying this is a watershed event, because Republicans are not used to losing nail-biter elections. I have no data at the moment to support or refute that notion, but it sounds possible. Of course, the Bush/Gore election dwarfs everything else, and colors my world true blue.

What about that veto-proof majority, supposedly in place with the Franken win? As noted by the New York Times, the inability of Senators Byrd and Kennedy to be present for votes means this is by no means a slam dunk. And add to that the fractious nature of some Democrats who apparently are so obsessed with occupying the wobbly center, they periodically slide to the right without apology. It’s a strange game, politics.

And about becoming the 60th vote (plus or minus), Franken says, "The way I see it, I'm not going to Washington to be the 60th Democratic senator. I'm going to Washington to be the second senator from Minnesota, and that's how I'm going to do this job."

According to McClatchy news:

"With just 59 votes, Senate Democrats in recent months have passed trillion-dollar spending bills, driven up America's debt, made every American taxpayer a shareholder in the auto industry and now want Washington to take over America's health care system. It's troubling to think about what they might now accomplish with 60 votes," said National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn of Texas.

Where Franken could make a difference in the Senate is on procedural votes, the little-noticed votes on parliamentary maneuvers that keep legislation moving.

"The real impact of 60 is that it will help our ability to get to the underlying issues more quickly," said Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del.

I’m just crazy about Cornyn. You, too?

Anyway, the Senate is adjourned until after the Fourth of July holiday. So Franken can’t be seated until next week at the earliest. And I’m not sure who will swear him in. A Supreme? Class?

Finally, relative to Franken’s impact on doing bidness, the Los Angeles Times, in a story about the MNSC decision that was far, far down the page from the top center stories about Farrah Fawcett’s funeral and Michael Jackson’s will (it’s California, remember) said:

Franken's presence also will provide more breathing room for the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Republicans have been careful to avoid threatening to filibuster the nomination, but that option could disappear for good, draining much of the drama out of the fight. Her confirmation hearings begin July 13, with a final floor vote likely during the first week of August.

He also could make life easier for some stalled Obama nominees. Reid has been waiting to bring the embattled nomination of Dawn Johnsen, tapped for a senior Justice Department post, to the Senate floor. Franken's potential yes-vote could make that happen.

I think I hear the fat lady singing. But like so many things lately, I’m a little snake-bit, so I’ll exhale when Franken walks into the Senate chamber, saying, “Ya know? A funny thing happened to me on the way to the Senate…”

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Anonymous (not verified) | July 1, 2009 - 3:47pm

Looks like it all came down to a shootout between the jerk and the clown. Maybe someday there will be a good choice.


Anne Gibert (not verified) | July 2, 2009 - 10:12am

I guess the true test of Obama's effectiveness as a president will be his skill in arm twisting the so-called "moderate" democrats. If he can make them behave something might get done. At the moment it doesn't look too good.


susan | July 2, 2009 - 12:51pm

You're right, at the moment it doesn't. But I keep remembering during the campaign, after the Palin mis-choice and McCain was gaining ground, how we were all wringing our hands and ranting at anyone we knew on the Obama staff to tell him to fight back --run this ad, say such and such in the next debate --to show some fire. And he kept his cool, reminded us that poll numbers were only numbers and golly gosh if he wasn't playing things exactly right. Wasn't there an on-line poster showing him behind a desk and saying, "Everyone chill. I have this covered."

It's a whole other game getting those mealy-mouthed "moderates" to inch out on the healthcare limb, but I have to believe that, once again, he knows what he's doing. I wish he'd take a stronger stand on single payer, but then I hear him saying something very smart thing about it and I think that once again, he knows what he's doing. I loved his line about letting the private insurers compete with the government program -- If the government is so inept, as you all claim, then what are the private companies so afraid of?
I think someone should compare the costs/results of the private contractors in Iraq to the costs/results of the US forces in Iraq. I mean, no great glory on either side, but just a comparison of costs, lost weapons and dollars, damage to America's reputation (priceless) and after-care for private contractors vs. for US troops.

David Morris had a good commentary today in the Mpls. StarTribune about how "public" has become a dirty word, when in fact, "private" ventures have been the ones to fail us.
We know how effective the private contractors for FEMA were in Katrina.