Sunday, March 14, 2010

Franken's Senate Win: How Ironic

Al Franken is now serving (rather quietly) in the U.S. Senate, after spending months in a protracted recount battle with his Republican opponent and devoting two full years before that to full-time campaigning.

During the campaign, Franken's past as a satirist and (official or unofficial) Democratic spokesperson in the political Culture Wars came under intense scrutiny. Betty McCollum, a Democrat who represents the St. Paul area in the U.S. House, called a sexually explicit essay he wrote for Playboy "radioactive." Republicans pored over writings, especially Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, trying to find over-the-top statements they could use to portray Franken as "angry."

The Republican strategy didn't work. Their candidate, Norm Coleman, appeared more and more to be a hollow man. By contrast, Franken increasingly came across not as irrationally angry but as righteously passionate about giving working people a voice in Washington, just as Paul Wellstone had done until his untimely death in 2002.

About two weeks before the election, the Star Tribune ran a lengthy profile of Franken that ultimately turned on the concept of irony. A reporter asked him whether it was ironic that the Republicans were trying to use his earlier ironic statements against him. Franken thought for a moment and said it wasn't ironic at all − then laughed.

No comments:

Post a Comment