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Washington Post: Al Franken was a jerk, now he's funny and cool

A deep dive today into Senate atmospherics from Post reporter Jason Horowitz, who pens this opening scorcher on Minnesota's junior Senator: "...by so effectively suppressing the punch lines, Franken exposed an irascible, sometimes nasty side of his personality. In a chamber where goodwill helps a freshman rack up legislative achievements, that can be just as damaging."

The piece is noteworthy as a catalogue of Franken's supposed outrages, which, when you dig into them, don't seem too outrageous, at least in the truth-telling department. Holding Barack Obama accountable for something he promised and didn't do, and John Thune for something he said but didn't want heard ... it actually has a certain populist charm about it — though Horowitz is right, it probably doesn't grease D.C.'s wheels.

Still, the redemptive power of mirth is dappled throughout the story: "...some colleagues and Senate analysts are noticing flashes of the old Franken humor — tempered to suit a stodgier audience — as the Democratic junior senator from Minnesota seeks to find the appropriate balance between humorist and humorless scold."

From a hometown perspective, the most risible thing in the piece — and it will be fun to see if our own D.C. correspondents touch this — is the alleged tension between Franken and Amy Klobuchar:

Several senators and Senate insiders said that a tension between Franken and his Minnesota colleague, Amy Klobuchar, was palpable. ("There's always some of that in a state," said Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.)

There are no other details, save for two paragraphs of A-Klo's denials, but that certainly won't stop the chattering now.

Franken's schmooze deficit apparently extended to Horowitz. The senator stuck to his policy of not doing national-media interviews — though Franken did break that policy earlier this month for the D.C. publication Roll Call. You might at least tell the national media a few jokes, Al.

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Comments (8)

Apparently the process of co-opting Franken into an inside the beltway hack is going a little slower than the Washington Post planned. Pity. He would be such a nice addition to Sally Quinn's cocktail parties, if only he would behave.

The Post article is incredibly lame.

The referenced article seems more like a hatchet job than anything else. One example:

It recounts Franken's denial of more time on the Senate floor for Joe Lieberman as if Franken just did it to be irritating. It recounts John McCain's public retreat to the fainting couch over such a thing---but fails to point out that Franken was acting on the express directions of Harry Reid, that the same thing had already happened earlier that day with a different presider, and that McCain himself had done the exact same thing in 2002.

But I guess that wouldn't have fit in with the narrative of the story.

A lot of the "grievances" about Franken seem to center on unwritten (or maybe written) Senate rules that he doesn't care to follow. IMO, he's using his outsider status to his advantage by applying logic, instead of stupid rules, to how things get done in that chamber. And this makes me happy.

What's with the Post trying to delve into the moods of liberals lately? The Fred Hiatt piece about Obama not seeming happy (maybe its because your op-ed page attacks Obama 24/7, Fred?), and now this about whether Franken is using enough humor to gain comity?

There's not enough hard news happening? Or just not enough chances for the WaPo to complain about everything else that liberals are doing wrong.

The Washington Post has a laughably inaccurate reputation as a "liberal" newspaper.

I'm on week two now of boycotting links into the Washington Post. I just can't stomach any more of their absurdly neoconservative warmongering and faux news analysis. Their media critic is married to a Republican operative and they exemplify all the reasons why normal Americans hate the political culture of Washington DC.

But mostly I can't stand hearing that the Post is a liberal newspaper when their editorial page product leans heavily to the right.

I am delighted with Senator Franken's service to the state and country to date. His work to ensure that employer arbitration requirements don't act as a shield preventing justice when an employee is raped by other employees is just one highly visible example (regarding a real case involving US private contractors and employees in Iraq)

His comments seem measured and thoughtful. And he doesn't fall into the hyperbole that Republican leaders (McConnell, Boehner) seem just chock full of these days.

We are fortunate that Senator Franken serves us all as US Senator. Much classier than his critics expected, and his opposition behaves.