by Rich Broderick • May 28, 2008
I have a confession to make.
I never expected that the first boot to drop on Al Franken’s vanity campaign for U.S. Senate would concern his tax returns. I was anticipating something more along the lines of the dirt currently being circulated about the “Porn-o-Rama” column he penned for Playboy back in 2000.
I haven’t read the columns in question so can pass no judgment on whether they are obscene and misogynistic, as the GOP is claiming. But let’s face it. The words “Playboy Magazine,” “Porn-o-Rama” and “credible U.S. Senate candidate” don’t mix together well in the same sentence, even if, as Franken apologists claim, the columns were intended as satire.
But then, maybe it’s Franken’s candidacy that is intended as satire. After all, the man is a master of deadpan irony. A genius, in fact. Just ask him. Unfortunately, if the DFL goes ahead, as it seems intent on doing, and endorses this guy, the joke will be on the party.
As I wrote recently, the real issue with Franken’s problems keeping track of what he owed to which state is not that he was cheating on his taxes. It’s that he’s a carpetbagger, an opportunist who moved to Minnesota specifically to run for office.
And the problem with “Porn-o-Rama” is not what he did or did not pen under that title. It’s the title itself. And all it hints about other revelations to come that will prove red meat to a GOP desperate to hold on to Coleman’s Senate seat. (Incidentally, given the heightened sensitivity of Hillary Clinton’s supporters to any suggestion of misogyny, one wonders what her Minnesota backers must make of Franken’s frat boy sensibility. Surely one of the things that drove Katherine Lanpher from his Air Radio radio program was that she’d gotten tired of being treated by Franken like some kind of on-air Girl Friday.)
Franken’s problems don’t stop at opportunism or satirical thrusts at America’s sexual mores or misogyny or the fact that his staff keeps him away from the press for fear that he will indulge in a fit of rage at some poor reporter. He is also a self-absorbed and lackluster candidate who fails to connect with voters. Polls that came out even before Porn-o-Rama showed him running seven points behind Norm Coleman – Norm Coleman, for heaven’s sakes – or just about dead even with Mike Ciresi, who ain’t even in the race anymore, and only a few points ahead of Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, the underfunded DFL-er who happens to possess the integrity, vision, and record of public service that Franken lacks.
Ironically, at a time when Hillary Clinton is leading John McCain in national polls and breathing down Barack Obama’s neck, there is a growing chorus of voices calling on her to drop out of the Presidential race. A much stronger case could be made that the time has come for Franken to drop out of the Senate race. Afterwards, he could demonstrate that his concern about Minnesota and the direction of the country is rooted in something more than mere ego by, say, lending his support and campaign organization to Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, who’d then have an excellent chance of defeating Coleman in the general election. Or Franken could help shake up the country’s addiction to partisan duopoly by, I don’t know, backing Mike Cavlan, currently running for the Green Party endorsement for U.S. Senate. After the election, Franken could go on to satisfy his obvious appetite for public service by getting involved in politics at the ground level rather than the 50th floor by maybe running for his local soil conservation district or community council.
“Al Franken is a funny man,” begins the ABC News Report on Franken’s Porn-o-Rama Playboy problems. That’s debatable. What really isn’t funny is the prospect of six more years of Norm Coleman in the U.S. Senate, an eventuality Franken’s narcissism is bringing a little closer every day.
Say goodnight, Al. Time to take your bows and exit stage left.