See Dick Run

Well, that old “liberal” Red Star did the story of the Republican opposition researchers’ dreams. The Strib dutifully published the Republicans’ opposition research about the ghastly things Al Franken said over his years as a comedian.

Republicans score! In case you haven’t seen it yet, the revelations are big, and I mean BIG! Get this, it seems that Franken has had occasion to refer to political opponents as — cover the tyke’s ears now — “dicks,” “dinks,” “butt buddies,” and “fat!”

Well, okay, I guess you don’t have to cover the children’s ears. Most heard worse on the pre-school playground. (But you may want to cover their ears if you don’t want them to learn to tattle.)

So, now the Republicans have framed the race. Will voters care more about a) Franken’s record of uncouth language or b) Norm Coleman’s record of — hold on a second while I search for a synonym for “butt buddy — mindless conformity?

In the Strib article, the ever available academic talking head Larry Jacobs uttered a dire prognostication for Weird Al: “Undecided and independent voters don’t like slap-mouth politicians.”

Oooo, scary stuff. Let’s see now, did any undecided and independent voters vote for the biggest slap-mouth of our times, Jesse Ventura?

There will obviously be a political downside to Franken’s irreverent past, but I wonder if people are overlooking the political appeal of someone who speaks with such unvarnished candor. See Jesse Ventura, Paul Wellstone and Arnold Schwartzenegger.

I still say let Al be Al. There’s no hiding who he is, so don’t try. The Republican faithful may think anyone who has called Bush a “dick” is unfit to enter the Senate. But about 70% of the country falls into that category, so Al might just have a base to build on.

— Loveland

3 thoughts on “See Dick Run

  1. Dave Jackson says:

    Good points, Joe, particularly about shoot-from-the-hip politicians having success. But a cautionary tale: Coleman is in Washington in part because of a backlash to slap-mouth behavior at the Wellstone memorial service. I think it’s all a matter of how people think your candor is being directed.

    If it’s straight talk about issues or addresses people’s basic needs, people view it positively. If it’s done for self-serving reasons or seen as a personal attack on others, it’s not as favorable. Jesse and Arnie can attest to that. Both got elected largely on the basis of their issues-based rhetoric and struggled when their attacks got personal or seemed self-motivated. Arnie straightened up and recovered, Jesse never really did.

    The reason Wellstone was so revered was because his rhetoric never was about him. It was always about what he was trying to do for us. And that’s why people were so turned off by the politicization of his memorial service. It remains to be seen whether Franken will be a master of straight-talk or shock-talk.


  2. Loveland says:

    Great points. And based on how Franken presented himself on his radio show, it seems like the potential is high for him to make his points in an overly personal way.

    A lot of people say he was only like that on the radio in order to be entertaining and draw listeners. But it felt like the irrepressible pit bull on that show was the real Al.

    If Norm is the butt of all the jokes, I don’t think enough Minnesotans will buy in. If absurd issue positions and Al himself are the butt of the jokes, they might. But I don’t think the handlers should try to make him jokeless, because then he’ll look like a phoney.

  3. Kelly Fuller says:

    If what happened in California with Schwarzenegger is any indicator, Minnesotans absolutely will conflate Franken’s radio persona with who he is as a person. No hope of avoiding it.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger appeals to Californians in large part because people have internalized his movie roles and really, truly think he can save them. It was scary living there and seeing the public confuse the superhumanly (and not so humanly) strong characters he played with who he actually was as a person. His campaign went out of its way to encourage this, referring to him as the Terminator and even crushing a car at a rally and having flames shoot out.

    At another event, a woman appealed to him for protection from the police, whom she said were harrassing her. Instead of letting his security brush her away, he talked to her and told her she was safe. It charmed the crowd.

    What will be interesting here will be seeing how creative the Republicans get with finding new ways to put Franken’s radio persona in everyone’s face. Surely they can be more imaginative than just sending talking points to newspapers.

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