David Broder has a column this morning calling for bipartisanship. I know, you’re shocked. But what struck me was this bit about Al Franken:
Franken, the loud-mouthed former comedian, will be the 60th member of the Senate Democratic caucus …
First, implicit in this characterization of Franken is the notion of the Senate as a decorous gentlemen’s club. I doubt that club ever existed in reality; but in any case, these days the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body is, not to put too fine a point on it, chock full o’ nuts. James Inhofe: I rest my case.
Second, Al Franken’s dirty secret is that … he’s a big policy wonk.
I used to go on Franken’s radio show, all ready to be jocular — and what he wanted to talk about was the arithmetic of Social Security, or the structure of Medicare Part D.
In fact, the only elected official I know who’s wonkier than Al Franken is Rush Holt, my congressman — and he used to be the assistant director of Princeton’s plasma physics lab. (The campaign’s bumper stickers read, “My Congressman IS a rocket scientist.”)
So what will Franken do to the level of Senate discourse? He’ll raise it.
Franken writes quite well. The only times he really bothers me is when he loses his sense of humor and becomes sanctimonious. For instance, he loves to point out that while many in the family values crowd are serial adulterers and divorcees (a point that is certainly worth some emphasis), he is a devoted husband and father. I think that is great Al, but let someone else say so.
William Adelman deserves props for pointing out that Krugman can actually be quite funny himself.