Franken is Franken -- Not Wellstone

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Franken is Franken -- Not Wellstone

In the most recent issue of The Nation, John Nichols has written an article entitled "For Paul's Seat," about Al Franken's decision to seek the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota next year.

Nichols writes:
Franken's challenge to Republican incumbent Norm Coleman, who took Wellstone's place in the Senate after the popular incumbent was killed in a fall 2OO2 plane crash, was expected. What was intriguing was Franken's signal with the broadcast announcement that his will be a certain kind of candidacy, run very much in the Wellstone tradition.

... "Your government should have your back," the man who has spent the last three years serving as the voice of liberal talk radio said in a video produced for his campaign.
I wish Franken the best of luck, but I hope he runs a campaign that is right for him, as opposed to a campaign "in the Wellstone tradition." Invoking Wellstone's name or his values is one thing, but Franken could go too far. As Al Gore reminded us, candidates who try too hard to be someone else risk looking like a caricature.

When he first ran for office, Paul Wellstone was an outsider in every sense of the word, unknown to nearly all of the state's electorate when he announced he was challenging GOP Sen. Rudy Boschwitz.

It's silly to think that Franken can present himself to voters in the same way. Contrast Wellstone, the political science professor at a small liberal arts college, with Franken, who is a "Saturday Night Live" alum, a well-known author, and, until just recently, had his views broadcast around the country on the "Air America" national radio program.

Along these lines, it's really hard to imagine Wellstone writing a book with the screed-like title of "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them."

I have some radical advice for Franken as he embarks on this campaign for the Senate. Franken should be . . . . Franken. After all, this is Minnesota, not Mississippi. Who knows? Liberalism with a dose of sarcasm might go over pretty well.

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