Our long national nightmare is over (or just beginning, depending on your politics). Due to a decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court, there are now 100 U.S. Senators. The Minnesota justices decided that comedian Al Franken won the race between himself and incumbent Norm Coleman. That means, that seat can be filled, which gives Democrats a 60-member majority in the Senate. Technically, it also gives them a filibuster-proof majority.
You remember, the election last November, the same one that chose the new president. The one 8 months ago! Amazing that the race was close enough (slim majority for Coleman, then a slim majority for Franken, then a slightly larger, but still slim majority for Franken) that it would take this long to figure out.
The New York Times write on the results says, in part: “But in their 5-0 ruling, the court found that Mr. Coleman had failed to prove that ‘the trial court’s findings of fact are clearly erroneous or that the court committed an error of law or abused its discretion.'” Shortly after the ruling, Sen. Coleman conceded the race, saying he respected the court’s decision.
It’s easy nowadays to believe that the votes of 2.9 million people could be split closely enough to even to force eight months of back and forth to determine a winner. Easy because of the mess between former Pres. Bush and former Vice President Gore back in 2000. I was in the CNN newsroom in Atlanta that night (and morning). Believe me, after witnessing that I can accept nearly any election result. Nearly — I’m still having problems with the recent presidential election in Iran, but that’s an entirely different blog.
It’s got to be tough being a sitting U.S. Senator and losing the office. It’s pretty hard for any incumbent to be voted out of office, unless there’s some kind of scandal or legal proceeding. Coleman, a Republican, wasn’t in any kind of trouble to speak of. He just got caught up in the anti-GOP sentiment a lot of voters had last fall.
Still, it’s got to be particularly grating for Coleman. The onetime Democrat and former mayor of St. Paul also came in second when he ran for governor in 1998 — to former professional wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura. You’ve got to hand it to voters in Minnesota, they don’t let people’s past get in the way of deciding their future potential.
Of course, you have to wonder why a sitting senator can’t use his record in office to win a race against a guy best known for appearing on Saturday Night Live. Anybody remember the “Al Franken Decade?”
One of Al’s more memorable characters was Stuart Smalley, the 12-step program advocate who was continually trying to convince himself of his own self-worth.
The Smalley skits were usually funny, but like many of the SNL skits expanded to movie length, it wasn’t a concept that was 90 minutes funny. Now Al has the opportunity to prove that he’s more than a guy who was funny in the 1980s and some of the 90s. Much was made during the campaign of the poor taste of some of the material he did on Saturday Night, but considering some of the things members of the Senate have done in the past, the bad taste charge might not really work against Al.
Now there’s a least one true professional comedian in the Senate. I’m sure the rest of the crew will be able to generate laughs from the things they do every now and then. I’m just hoping that the newest senator will be able raise enough money to pay for the legal fight that got him into office. His people found my phone number somewhere and I get 3 or 4 fundraising calls a week. Yes, I’ve asked the to stop, but this may be part of some elaborate joke on the part of the Senator-elect and his people. Dude, you got the job. Leave me alone.