Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why We Need Al Franken in the U.S. Senate

We have less than a month until the election. It is time to quit screwing around, to quit suffering fools and to get serious about making the only choice in Minnesota that will protect us from six more years of support for discredited, disastrous political ideology.

All we need to do is remember how conservative Republicans used every mechanism available to undermine the Clinton Administration to realize that an Obama Administration needs a filibuster-proof Senate to effect the changes we all clamor for. Bill Clinton may have been a philanderer, but neither he nor the country deserved the derailment of public policy voted for by the electorate.

If Norm Coleman is re-elected to serve in a U.S. Senate presided over by Vice President Joe Biden, I guaranty you he will be an outspoken proponent of conservative idealogues and a lapdog for Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others of their ilk.

Specifically, here are the reasons to replace Norm Coleman with Al Franken in the U.S. Senate. They are in no particular order. Any of them individually should suffice.

1. Senator Norm Coleman is a mud slinging hypocrite. If this exchange from a recent press conference with his spokesman, Cullen Sheehan, goes mainstream, the election could be over.

2. Senator Norm Coleman refuses to own up to his record in the Senate. For six years, he championed policies and positions on behalf of the Bush/Cheney administration. Given the fact that Vice President Cheney called Tim Pawlenty just before Pawlenty was going to announce his candidacy for Paul Wellstone's Senate seat and told the House Majority Leader that President Bush supported St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman for the seat, it is understandable that Senator Coleman had a debt to repay. Senator, you made your bed, now lay in it. Quit insulting our intelligence with soundbites and soothing music, claiming that you've pursued a tradition of bi-partisanship. If you are concerned that your positions do not reflect that of most Minnesotans, that's too bad. You should have thought about the consequences of unacceptable positions before the campaign started.

3. Al Franken is a thoughtful, Harvard educated scholar, with the ability to clearly communicate the basis for his positions and the integrity to stand up for what he believes.

4. Al Franken would be a public servant in the mold of Paul Wellstone. Even if he is more liberal than many of us, his voice needs to be heard because, believe me, there are a lot more members of Congress who are much more conservative than most of us and they are not shy about being heard and interjecting their view of the world into legislation. Senator Wellstone was a voice of principle that served to check conservative excesses. Senator Franken would do the same.

5. We should embrace the concept that someone who has absolutely no need to put up with (i) the b.s. that goes with campaigning or (ii) the character assassination that has become embedded in our political process or (iii) the incredible responsibility of serving the public nonetheless wants to share his qualifications for the betterment of us all. Al Franken doesn't need a job. Unlike his opponent, he has been gainfully employed for an extended time in the private sector. He will always have the option to return to the private sector and pick up where he left off. Accordingly, he doesn't need to pander to the basest levels of the electorate just to maintain his personal status quo.

6. We have an aging Supreme Court and, thanks to the appointments of President Bush with the enthusiastic support of Senator Coleman, we have the most conservative Supreme Court since FDR tried to stack the Court in the 1930's. It matters. If you don't want to see the protection of reproductive freedom removed from the U.S. Constitution, it matters. If you believe that voting rights need to be protected, it matters. If you are uncomfortable with allowing the government to confiscate private property from one citizen to turn it over to another private party, it matters. If you believe that women should be able to pursue claims for discrimination in the workplace, it matters. We cannot risk having more conservatives appointed to the Supreme Court. If Senator Coleman is re-elected, he will support a more conservative judiciary either directly under a McCain Administration or as part of a filibuster under an Obama Administration.

7. Same reason as in Number 6 only with respect to the Federal judiciary in Minnesota and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. As the senior Senator from Minnesota, Senator Coleman has played a key role in working with the Bush Administration to appoint our Federal judges. The manner in which they interpret the law and the Constitution starts the process that leads to the Supremes. We should start that process with a more liberal outlook.

8. Enough is enough. Step back and look at the progression of Norm Coleman's life story: liberal SDS activist organizing student protests and building closures at Hofstra University –> Assistant Attorney General under Hubert Humphrey III –> DFL Mayor of St. Paul –> Republican Mayor of St. Paul –> Dick Cheney's hand-picked candidate to run against Paul Wellstone –> national spokesperson (i.e., apologist) for the Bush Administration and strong backer of Bush policies on all major issues –> GOP representative at the 2004 Democratic Convention to provide the media with GOP rebuttals –> self-proclaimed bi-partisan lawmaker working across the aisle to get things done. The consistency? It's all about Norm. Whatever needs to be done for purposes of self-promotion gets done. No opinion is so strongly held that it cannot be changed for purposes responding to the current political wind. If the man had a principled bone in his body, he'd still be a Democrat or he'd have President Bush in town campaigning for him or he'd be willing to stand up and explain and defend his positions on matters other than funding the new 35W bridge.

9. He has failed to heed my plea for relevancy made in my April 29th blog (still available in the archives or linked below in the October 7th, Campaigning in Soundbites, blog). Norm Coleman's negative campaigning has been an insult to all of us. The truth is coming out about the depths of deception the Coleman campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have engaged in in order to smear Al Franken and voters ought to respond appropriately. As an unbelievable example, click here to read the Franken campaign's press release responding to outright character assassination on behalf of Norm Coleman.

Senator Coleman, have you no decency? Have you no substance? Is it all a charade for purposes of self-aggrandizement? Our beloved country faces serious challenges in the years ahead. Its citizens need thoughtful, principled representation. For six years, you held the U.S. Senate seat once occupied by Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone. What does it say that in reviewing the grand history of that Senate seat, you will not bear mentioning except by way of apology?

There is no excuse, other than disagreeing with the views expressed herein, not to go to Al Franken's website to find ways to help get Al Franken elected. If you want to volunteer, click here. If you want to donate, click here.

The race is close and, as a shout out to my DFL friends who threw in the towel shortly after the convention, convinced Al could not beat Norm: Pick up the frickin' towel and make up for your lost time!


Charles Leck said...

Sam you CAN blog! This one on Coleman is your best. Thanks for the thorough run-through on why Norm Coleman MUST not be our Senator any longer.

And thanks for the video clip of the exchange between Coleman's press spokesman and the local press. No wonder Coleman has suddenly called off dirty, nasty and disrepectful ads against Franken. He must very much want Franken to do the same thing so this clip doesn't become a part of a commercial. Wow! It would be a killer. We have a Senator afraid of telling the public the truth -- whatever that truth is! Fortunately, this clip is now a part of the record.

Coleman must go! I'll connect with Franken's web site right now.

Charlie of Independence

fred kamm said...

Sam, i've been enjoying your passionate blogs of late...started reading you on your neighbor's recomendation (the old man down the road) and, though i'm from Denver, you've sucked me into your local race. Thanks for doing it...we're out here, and we're listening. fred kamm