First to National Ticket: Franken or Pawlenty?

HOWARD MEGDAL: I think Christian is right: Pawlenty seems much likelier to hit the national ticket first. But indulge me, if you will, in a little time-travel.

The year is 2016. Barack Obama is just finishing his second term. And the race for the Democratic nomination is wide-open.

Joe Biden is running, as is Hillary Clinton, but both of them seem like relics of a past age. Despite the obvious parallels, New Jersey Governor Cory Booker elects not to run this time around. Andrew Cuomo has fairly limited regional appeal. And Charlie Crist is unable to shake off his Republican past.

Enter Al Franken, who no one can accuse of ever being anything but a Democrat. Franken is, contrary to the attempts of his opponents, quite good at finding the jugular in debate, in sound-biting the issues of note, while avoiding the look or feel of someone who is simply a television performer. He’s also done his homework.

And while all those same critics who believed a man named Barack Hussein Obama could not be elected will be out in force again- Franken? A Jew? With those glasses? I believe it is time. We’ve had one Jewish member of a national ticket, and that was Joe Lieberman, a shande. I think we deserve another shot. And just because something hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

No, I won’t press for a Franken-Schumer or Franken-Rendell ticket, though it would balance out Franken’s midwestern base with a northeast presence. But when people like Harry Reid and Howard Dean are out there making me ashamed to be a Democrat, Al Franken is out there reminding me why I’m proud to be a Democrat.

And if you think that won’t play well with the base, you were probably one of the people urging John Kerry and Hillary Clinton to support the War in Iraq to boost their future presidential bids.

CHRISTIAN HEINZE: You make a pretty good argument for Al Franken, but I’m going to be a Kardashian (the Dad one) and eviscerate your case.

Yes, I agree with me. Pawlenty is more likely to make a national ticket first. Franken is missing something crucial to advancing a) in the Senate and b) in national politics. I think we can agree that he came to the Senate, partially, on the wave of celebrity. So did Hillary Clinton. And just as Clinton said she’d get down and dirty, Franken claimed he’d hit the books, and generally, avoid being himself. Up until that point, his shtick was all about being the smartest kid in class. Well, the smartest kid in class in the Senate is, by default, the oldest. So in effect — if Franken were to succeed as a Senator, he’d have to either a) concede he’s the dumbest kid in class or b) annoy the hell out of everyone.

He’s kind of chosen b. I’m armed (or since I’m typing, should say “fingered”, but that doesn’t quite sound right) with two examples — one broad, one specific.

Read this 2009 piece from the Hill about how Franken has fit into the Senate. You’ll find the words “sally”, “angry”, “grill”, “mocking”, and most damning of all, “pugilistic”. Don King’s clients should be pugilistic. Clint Eastwood should be pugilistic (except in cases where he wants to win an Oscar — then, he should be pugilistic until act 2 when an orphan turns him slightly less pugilistic). But freshman Senators should not be pugilistic.

The most galling show of Franken’s pugilism was a tirade on the Senate floor that forced John Thune to walk out. To the Left, he probably came off looking like Patton. To the rest of us, he just came off looking like Al Franken. Funny, sure, but not someone we’d want a brass band to bust out “Hail to the Chief” to.

The fact is there’s a limit on how confrontational you can be and get away with it (Hamas notwithstanding). Franken is smart and does his homework, but which nerd ever got elected class President? Only in the movies, and preferably, only if Jason Schwartzman is available to play your lead.

To finish with a cliche, Franken is Franken’s own worst enemy. And in a national campaign, you can’t afford to have one more enemy than your opponent.

And just like a Kardashian (the Dad one), I now rest my case.

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