Al Franken on Principles & Values
DFL Jr Senator (MN)
"Patience!" the troops responded.
"When do we want it?" the underdog trailing by 215 votes asked again.
"Now!" they replied.
"Patience now." That was a purposely oxymoronic notion, but it was an appropriate call-and-response for all that was in store over the next seven weeks of the recount.
On Nov. 15, eleven days after Election Day and four days before the Great Minnesota Recount was set to begin, more than 1,000 volunteers descended to receive training on how to monitor elections officials' actions, how to collect critical data, and how to challenge ballots.
With his New York and Hollywood pals, his great sense of humor, his chutzpah and celebrity, raising funds was Franken's strength. Sculpting a major-league campaign that could lift the Democrats to a filibuster-proof majority was not.
Such puffery--from a man who jumped parties to aid his ambition, who lost in 1998 to former wrestler Jesse Ventura in a gubernatorial election, and who was an accidental senator because of Wellstone's untimely death--rankled liberals. It flabbergasted Franken, who grew up as a middle class Jewish kid in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park in the 1950's and '60s and who had come to adore Wellstone.
The words "Does Al Franken Have the Temperament to Be US Senator?" flashed on the TV screen. What followed were quick audio excerpts from confrontations or interviews or his book in which an agitated, argumentative, profane Franken is exposed. At the end of the 30-second spot, the words "Al Franken. Reckless. Ridiculous. Wrong." are displayed.
Five days later, Franken's campaign punched back with a calm, senatorial Franken responding. "Look, I'm not a politician and I guess I get outraged, and sometimes I've gone too far," he said, adding that with gas, grocery, and health care costs soaring and "special interests" succeeding, "My question is, Why isn't Norm Coleman outraged?"
"In the past month, many Senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make the law--it is to apply the law. And it is clear, I believe, that my record in two courts reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its terms; interpreting statutes according to their terms and Congress's intent; and hewing faithfully to precedents established by the Supreme Court and my Circuit Court. In each case I have heard, I have applied the law to the facts at hand."
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