A keen observation from Captain Obvious: Al Franken has an image problem.
During the campaign voters heard and read the recovering comedian using naughty words, brainstorming jokes about rape, and occasionally stretching the truth in relentless criticism of his opponent. And there is residual damage. Lots of it.
Well, New Years is the season of renewal. So, today Al Franken should start his post-campaign reputation transition from campaign attack dog to thoughtful leader of all Minnesotans. He can begin that process by issuing a statement that goes something like this:
Based on my narrow lead in the recount, many of my supporters in Washington and Minnesota are calling for me to be seated in the Senate.
While I appreciate their support, I would ask them to cool their jets.
I have said from the beginning that we should be respectful of this process, and let it play out completely. I have said the integrity of this process is more important than whether I win or lose.
And I meant it. Sincerely. My concern for the integrity of our democratic processes doesn’t change just because I have a slim lead, and just because there are bad feelings left over from a brutal campaign. We still have to let this process play out completely, and that includes Senator Coleman’s legal challenges. Legal challenges are a legitimate part of this process. While I strongly dispute the content of those challenges, I strongly support the Senator’s right to make them.
So, let’s count the votes, and let the entire judicial appeal process play out. Believe me, nobody is more anxious about bringing this process to an end than me. But to bring Minnesota together, it is much more important that we have a complete and fair process that Minnesotans can believe in than whether I enter the Senate next week, the following week, or ever.
Exhibiting a little statesmanship and selflessness would go a long way for Franken right now. Frankly, I’m not sure he has it in him. Jesse Ventura never had it in him, and it cost him in the long run. Franken would be helping both himself and the state by calling off the partisan dogs for another few weeks.
Now just like the salad I’m having for lunch today won’t make up for my gluttonous sins over the past month, such a statement wouldn’t make up for all the gripes Minnesotans have with Franken. But like all New Years resolutions, it would give him a shot at a fresh start.