Nothing could have pleased me more than when Air America started in 2004 and Al Franken got his own radio show. He was funny, irreverent (just like he was as Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live), understood serious issues better than anyone--and he had his heart and mind in the right place.
He seemed to be a progressive liberal Democrat when many who called themselves progressive liberal Democrats really weren't.
I still laugh about the day he did a skit on his show--as I listened in my South Loop kitchen--about Mel Gibson and the reported anti-semitism of his then new movie, The Passion of the Christ. Franken lovingly needled the Jews who were paying to see it (like me) "because they want to see what all the fuss is about!" His voice, his inflection, his incisive humor really gave me the giggles. Just like Stuart Smalley used to.
And nothing could have pleased me more than when Al Franken in 2009 won a hotly contested knuckle-biter (in the courts for a few months even!) by a few hundred votes out of a few million--against Minnesota incumbent senator and Republican Norm Coleman. Stuart Smalley became Senator Franken. Perfect person for the job.
Franken admitted recently that he decided to put his sense of humor away during his first term because it wouldn't be right to keep it as a senator. But he said since he won a second term three years ago, he's bringing it back, also hinting that he may run for president. If Trump the TV star could do it, I guess Franken the TV star (and a senator with several years' experience under his belt) figures he can, too.
But all of a sudden, he's at least four times accused of sexual inappropriateness. The first happened when he was still a comedian, when he posed for a picture with his hands on his fellow comedian's Kevlar-covered breasts. And he kissed her inappropriately, too, she says.
Because he was still a screwball of an entertainer and on a USO trip at the time, I might have overlooked that one. Comedians on USO trips? Everyone probably acts a little nuts in a war zone.
Although I did see a clip on Fox News of Senator Franken holding someone's feet to the fire for saying something was only a joke. "A joke?! A joke!? Franken shouted in a booming voice. Hypocritically, it turns out. Because he has a reputation for making inappropriate jokes--like one about raping journalist Lesley Stahl.
And for other kinds of abuse towards women.
Franken is also alleged--while running for and winning his election, and serving as a senator--to have grabbed and groped three other women while having his picture taken with them at events. One anonymous accuser says he also suggested visiting the bathroom together.
And he can't say it was the antics of a comedian because he admitted he put his sense of humor on a shelf during that time.
Actually, I thought Franken lost his mind three years ago. When he endorsed Hillary Clinton for president--before she even made her inevitable campaign official. And before anyone else had officially announced they were running in the Democratic primary.
Bernie Sanders, Franken's fellow jew, and a true progressive was not endorsed by Franken. Although I certainly believed that Franken, the comedian and political radio host would share the same values. I was shocked that he didn't change his mind and endorse Bernie when the time came.
But what did I know?
Franken, like so many other mainstream Democrat leaders just had to run Hillary Clinton for president. He backed Hillary for the same reasons other dems did: Deflecting the threat of Bill Clinton "primarying" them. And for her trickle down money. But the money never trickled down--as we now know from Donna Brazile's recent revelations. All her money was spent on Hillary herself.
Bill Maher said during her primary, when she ended up losing 22 states plus Democrats Abroad to Bernie Sanders, proving what a weakling she was, "Hillary, you lost to an unknown black guy with the middle name Hussein and now you're losing to an unknown 74-year-old Jewish socialist. We couldn't have made it any easier for you."
And then came Trump. No, we couldn't have made it any easier for her there either. Although David Axelrod said it was hard work for her to lose to Trump.
Bernie raised more money than anyone--and he had long political coattails, too, coattails that I believe crossed partisan lines. He would have helped the Democrats. He would have made America great again.
Lately, it seems Franken has been relegated--with all the other unimaginative and insincere Democrats--to sending out those idiotic emails that always say, in one way or another, "The world is coming to an end because of the Republicans, so send me $1." That's all they want, they say, including Nancy Pelosi, in order to stop the impending doomsday caused by Republicans.
Those dollars might work in 2018 to flip both houses of Congress. But if there's a flip, it's likely Trump's thoroughly obnoxious personality will be responsible for it. Not the Democrats' annoying and phony emails asking for small amounts of money.
But in the meantime, Franken's true colors surfaced. He endorsed the wrong candidate for the wrong reasons. And women say he's abusive. One has a picture as proof.
It's hard to believe that the progressive guy I loved so much back in the early Air America days is the same Al Franken I've gotten to know in the now. But he is.
He's a guy who backed a loser like Hillary Clinton. And it turns out he treats women the same as her husband Bill.
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