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It’s one sorry campaign season in Minnesota

Minnesota politicians, left and right, are demanding apologies in this sorry campaign season.

It may be time for a re-release of that old hit, “Who’s Sorry Now.”

Minnesota politicians, left and right, are demanding apologies in this sorry campaign season. Contemporary social media — where all things become public and nothing is forgotten — likely is responsible for this situation, which leaves voters wondering, “who’s the sorriest candidate of ’em all?”

On Monday, it was the Republican Party of Minnesota’s turn to demand an apology, actually a double apology, from DFL Party chair Ken Martin and Sen. Al Franken. Two Republican legislators, Rep. Peggy Scott of Andover and Rep. Marion O’Neill of Buffalo, joined GOP party chair Keith Downey demanding the apologies.

At an event Monday morning, Republicans blasted Franken for a 2012 incident during which he walked around at a political event holding small traffic cones to his chest as if they were breasts. This un-senatorial display was, not surprisingly, video-taped. Given his history of sexist “satire” that he wrote for Saturday Night Live, Franken’s cone act, no matter the context, was just what the GOP needed.  

The Republicans needed the ammunition because Jim Hagedorn, the party’s candidate in the First Congressional District, running against incumbent Tim Walz, had been forced to issue an apology of his own. Hagedorn had written some very un-politic things about women, gays, Native Americans, Supreme Court justices and President Obama on his now-closed blog, “Mr Conservative,” writings that initially came to light through the reporting of Bluestem Prairie, a progressive site covering all things greater Minnesota. 

Among other things, Hagedorn had written that U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray were “undeserving bimbos in tennis shoes.”

To make matters worse, Hagedorn initially refused to apologize for some of his writings.

The refusal to simply say “I’m sorry” made Hagedorn a nice big target for the DFL’s Martin. “He’s unfit for office,” Martin was quoted as saying at one point.

Over the weekend, Hagedorn, on his Facebook page, offered up something that hinted at apology. “These same politically correct liberals remain undeterred by the offensive writings authored in the past by Al Franken. In spite of this hypocrisy, I do acknowledge that some of my hard-hitting, tongue-in-cheek commentary was less than artfully constructed or included language that could hurt feelings. I offer a sincere apology.”

Though the Franken-with-cones video has been available to the GOP for some time, Downey said it was brought out now because of the attacks by Martin. “He was very quick to call out Hagendorn, but he’s not called out Franken,” Downey said. “That is the height of hypocrisy.”

The Republicans looked properly somber as they attacked Franken’s “offensive behavior.” Scott noted that, yes, Franken had apologized for some of his Saturday Night Live skits, “but there’s no record of him apologizing for this event two years ago.” O’Neill spoke of Franken’s “pattern of debasing women.” 

All these demands for apologies are making the 2014 campaign season sound more like a grade-school playground than a political contest. The key question is whether voters pay any attention to the apologies — or even the offending behavior.

“I think it matters to women,” said Scott. “Everyone is claiming to be looking for the women’s vote. … Well, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Look, if John Kline had done such a gesture [with cones], do you think it would have gone unnoticed?  We want to look at the double standard here.”

It is worth recalling that Franken had to repeatedly apologize for some of his Saturday Night Live skits prior to winning DFL endorsement for the Senate six years ago. The key moment for Franken at the endorsing convention was when he apologized to the DFL’s Feminist Caucus and later was okayed by leadership of that caucus. 

Since his election, Franken, in most public appearances, has worked hard at being a dull, hard-working pol. And as of early Monday afternoon, no apologies had been forthcoming from either Franken or the DFL offices.

While we wait for the next apology, or the next demand for an apology, a thought: Given pols live in glass houses, perhaps they shouldn’t throw stones. 

Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/26/2014 - 10:08 am.

    IMO, this silly clip of Franken was damning not because he was acting like a 13 year old, but because it illustrates who Al Franken is when not being carefully managed by is admittedly skilled staff of handlers.

    Un-Senatorial? Yes, that works rather well.

    Also, I do think it’s fair to remind people that Franken never apologized for his decidedly twisted idea of what constitutes a joke, and that if seating a pornographic short story writer in the US Senate is appropriate, the bar can’t get much lower.

    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 08/26/2014 - 10:51 am.

      Mr Swift…

      I think Michelle MacDonald could limbo any bar the democrats could possibly place.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/26/2014 - 11:22 am.

        That may well be true.

        Unfortunately for her, she’s hoping to be elected by Republicans who do not subscribe to the DFL’s diminutive measure of acceptability irrespective of party affiliation. She’s got no chance.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/26/2014 - 02:08 pm.

          That is true

          Ms. MacDonald is hoping to be elected by all voters, not just Republicans. The Republicans have already given her their stamp of approval.

          Talk about your “diminutive measure of acceptability.”

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/26/2014 - 04:43 pm.

            Being as the Minnpost seems to be your go-to source for info, you probably don’t know that Michelle wasn’t forthcoming with the vetting committee, or caucus delegates. She was approved under false pretenses.

            You’re right though, she wants everyone’s vote but while her ability to dance under their bar of acceptable behavior might garner a few DFL admirers, she has no shot with the GOP electorate on Nov 2.

            Trust me on this, I know more than a few Republicans.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/26/2014 - 05:09 pm.

              False pretenses

              So the vetting committee didn’t do their own check on her? A simple search would have told them all they needed to know.

              Lazy? Incompetent? Blinded by her Bible? A combination of the three?

    • Submitted by jason myron on 08/29/2014 - 01:21 pm.

      You can dispense

      with the faux umbrage, Swift. Anyone that’s taken a gander at your juvenile twitter feed would laugh in your face at the thought of you accusing others of being twisted.

  2. Submitted by Sally Sorensen on 08/26/2014 - 10:57 am.

    False equivalence

    You’re seriously buying into the notion that a soundless sight gag by a Senator who has voted for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and other pro-women legislation is on the level of Jim Hagedorn’s consistently demeaning barbs at women leaders, regardless of their party?

    Indeed, until this non-apology apology, Hagedorn’s defense was that he attacked people regardless of their party. True enough: he wrote of Miers’ nomination to “fill the bra” of Sandra Day O’Connor, while praising McCain for picking a “Caribou Barbie” in Sarah Palin. Respect for women as political beings? Nada.

    And that’s not even getting to the racist and homophobic material.

    The GOP-and apparently now Doug Grow–have lost anything of a sense of proportion and analysis with this spin.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/26/2014 - 11:34 am.

      Small clarification: “A soundless sight gag from a US Senator any 13 year old boy would find amusing” See, it’s not the “joke”, it’s the immature mentality behind it that is of importance.

      “filling the bra” is clearly (to thoughtful readers) a reference to the folly of nominating someone because of gender, as opposed to pertinent qualification.

      Caribou Barbie is a lefty slur. Bigots; heal thy selves.

      And if you object to non-apologies and “homophobic” behavior, Al Franken clearly isn’t the guy for you.

      • Submitted by Jeff Wilfahrt on 08/26/2014 - 01:15 pm.

        Be very careful about what constitutes immaturity

        Mr. Swift,

        Many of us read your nearly perpetual rebuttals and suggesting Franken’s actions are summarized by “it’s the immature mentality” is a little like the kettle calling the pot black in consideration of you many postings.

        You love to attack Mr. Swift, not so sure you have the capacity to just love.

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/26/2014 - 04:37 pm.

          I beg to differ sir! I am a fountain of love. Although I aver I don’t have much chance of gathering the leftist vote; guess the US Senate run is out of the question for the foreseeable future.

  3. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 08/26/2014 - 10:58 am.

    The GOP

    The MN GOP, after being a Republican, has turned me into an independent with their stupidity. I have never in my whole life and I am 71, seen such fools trying to govern. It is absolutely complete idiocy.

  4. Submitted by jody rooney on 08/26/2014 - 11:14 am.

    I think Senator Franken can manage himself

    At least he hasn’t pretended to be hit in the “groin” something that resembles middle school humor, or been so cheap as to take out his sons stitches. I mean come on who hasn’t taken out their own limb stitches.

    McFadden’s other ad about fixing the roads was not made by anyone from Minnesota. It is hard to get anywhere because of road construction. And backing up a boat – notice McFadden isn’t backing around a corner. Good thing someone parked it for him.

    Apologies are cheap, they no longer have value in society. Heck I would issue an apology in a minute. Even an ” I am sorry that you were offended” has more sincerity than “I apologize.”

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 08/26/2014 - 04:37 pm.

      Please keep repairing the potholes!

      I like having the potholes repaired.

      Let me get this straight – the challenger thinks himself frugal because he took out his kid’s stitches?
      This is preposterous.

      Just as it is preposterous to be mad at the guys FIXING the roads.
      They didn’t put the potholes there.

  5. Submitted by Bill Withers on 08/26/2014 - 12:44 pm.


    It is Minnpost who should be apologizing to its readers for this garbage of a news story. Why don’t you guys find something productive to write about? Like candidates who can make an actual difference, like Dave Thomas in the 4th cd.

  6. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 08/26/2014 - 12:53 pm.


    I’m sorry, but a sight gag with traffic cones just doesn’t bother me. Pretending to have pointy breasts simply isn’t sexist–just ask Madonna. That being said, Hagedorn’s reference to Palin as “Caribou Barbie” was just plain funny. The rest of his sexist, homophobic, and racist stuff…not so much.

  7. Submitted by Jeff Wilfahrt on 08/26/2014 - 12:59 pm.

    And of their former professions?

    Rep. Peggy Scott of Andover – fashion merchandising and real estate, sales => nothing like sales to hone deceptive language

    Rep. Marion O’Neill of Buffalo – owner of Irish Setters Tile & Glass Block => small business owner and we know they are perpetually unhappy about things

    Keith Downey – consultant was listed as occupation => he’s an expert, and X is the unknown variable, and a spurt is a drip under pressure so it appears he’s a drip under pressure

    Franken – comedian turned Senator => successful because he sees the inner fallacy of things, most people want a light heart and a joke and congressional inquiries that see the deeper truth through the lies

    Hagedorn – well regardless of profession he’s an open unabashed bigot.

    Pay no heed to Scott, Downey and O’Neill. Their professions leave some room for doubt as to their vocal veracity.

  8. Submitted by Ralf Wyman on 08/26/2014 - 03:20 pm.

    Let’s ask both candidates

    …how they would vote on:
    – ENDA protections for LGBT workers
    – Equal pay for equal work legislation (ie: Lilly Leadbetter Act)
    – Repeal of DOMA
    and so on.

    Let’s hear what their positions are and base our votes on that. I suspect that the positions Hagedorn advocated in his commentaries show up in his position statements and can be easily contrasted with Walz’s record.

    Likewise for Franken and his GOP challenger. Lets look at voting records and a full range of public statements, not just a traffic cone video. Unfortunately, we don’t have a voting record to get and idea what Mike McFadden is really about. He is bobbing and weaving on “social issues.”

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