If you read this blog and you’ve never read Al Franken’s “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” you might as well turn off the computer and go to bed. Because, back when it was positively terrifying to be a liberal in George W. Bush’s America, Mr. Franken got many of us through the long and red-tinted days.
I remember reading the book on the floor of the airport in Fort Lauderdale, waiting for my friends to arrive on different flights. I was so nervous that someone would see me reading a book bashing Republicans that I took the cover off and hid it in my bag.
Anyway, how about Al Franken? He’s running for Senate in Minnesota, if you didn’t already know. He’s hit some road blocks, because Norm Coleman (the one-term Republican incumbent) pretty successfully painted Franken as a hilarious man, who once wrote a pseudo-raunchy piece for Playboy. Which Franken is, and did. But he is also very bright and quite serious.
Coleman used to be a Democrat, and was mayor of Minneapolis St. Paul* as such, until 1996, when he changed his stripes. Even so, Coleman’s moderateness combined with Franken’s jokesy, folksy, Saturday Night Live record, seemed enough for him to keep his seat.
Not so fast, according to Time. At the very moment the tide seemed to turn for down ticket Democrats, when Obama looked presidential during the financial crisis and McCain looked like a dunce, Coleman ran an ad that showed Franken telling some sort of story, but muted, with a voice over critizing Franken for being outrageously angry.
The problem: the muted video used in the NRSC ads was actually taken from a heartwarming, funny story Franken told, and acted out, about David Wellstone and his father Paul, who was killed in a plane crash in 2002 and whose Senate seat Coleman now holds. David, on at least one occasion, was sitting nearby, smiling as Franken acted out the part of his father excitedly urging him on during a cross country race. Handed a gift, Franken’s campaign produced an ad of their own showing how his image had been grossly distorted on Coleman’s behalf — not merely an injustice to Franken, but an insult to Wellstone’s memory. “Minnesotans,” read the tagline, “deserve better.” “At the minimum, it was a very effective ad,” Kathryn Pearson, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota, says of the Franken riposte.
Now the race is looking tighter, but many Minnesota voters are upset with the negative tone of the campaign and are threatening to vote for the third party candidate. Who knows. Those Minnesotans are crazy!
*Update: Thanks to Louis, in comments, who corrected me. Coleman was mayor of St. Paul, not Minneapolis.