June 18, 2008

Al Franken, Comic

I was on another blog this morning where someone was disparaging Al Franken as "this comic." I'm crossposting my response here, because...

I'm getting tired of this "just a comic" trope. Being a successful comic, which Franken is, requires a number of talents useful to a politician. It requires you to be able to communicate to a broad range of people. It requires you to look through things that are "supposed to" be to see what is. It requires an ability keep your audience on your side while making them uncomfortable.

Now, sure, a comedian can take all that and never apply it beyond battle-of-the-sexes jokes. Maybe I don't want that comedian to be a politician. But that isn't what Franken has done. Have you read Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them or his other political books? Franken used his talents to dissect the conservative policy machine when almost no one else was doing it. He could have just taken potshots at personalities, but instead, he combined the potshots with substantial information on why those policies are based on bunk and actively hurtful.

So when someone dismisses Franken as a comic, I have to wonder. Have they paid no attention to Franken, or are they shilling for the other team and expecting that I'm too dumb to notice they don't have any better arguments?


Christopher said...

When Mike Ditka was (for a short time) planning to run against Barack Obama for the Illinois Senate seat, was he dismissed as "this sports guy"? I seem to recall he was considered by some to be a serious contender. And when Fred Thompson ran for Senate, and won, he was never described as just "this actor". And let's face it: lots of people with no prior experience in politics get elected. Their lack of experience is often treated as a virtue.
I don't mean to draw attention away from what you've already done, though, which is lay out a good argument for why Franken shouldn't be dismissed solely because of his work as a comedian.

Kelly McCullough said...

Nice post, Steph.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Thanks, Kelly. You know the drill: get me good and annoyed and I somehow get more eloquent.