Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory

Like 2006, this is a Democratic year. The GOP brand is more damaged than in has been in ages. President Bush has the approval rating usually reserved for moldy liverwurst. The economy is doing poorly.

But at least one Republican has reason to cheer. The Minnesota DFL has nominated Al Franken to be their candidate for the U.S. Senate. That is good news for Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

Franken, the unfunny comedian “satirist” is the sort of person who will do quite well in the ideologically homogenous bastions of Twin Cities leftism, but will go over like a fart in church elsewhere. Minnesota already made a mockery of the political process once—and at least Gov. Ventura had some executive experience as mayor of a Twin Cities suburb. Franken cannot even claim that. We don’t need a “satirist” in the Senate—in truth it’s already a joke—what we need is a responsible adult to represent the interests of Minnesota.

Sen. Coleman is not a conservative ideologue by any means, and some conservatives dislike him for that. However, he has the right instincts, he has shown a willingness to engage in unpopular but necessary political battles such as UN reform, and he has demonstrated an appropriately Senatorial level of intellectual curiosity. I had the chance to hear him speak before an intimate audience a few months ago, and even some of my liberal friends (one of whom asked him a rather tough question that he answered forthrightly) came away impressed.

This may be a Democratic year, but it is not so Democratic that the DFL can put just anyone into consideration. Against a moderate, thoughtful Republican like Sen. Coleman, the thin resume and ideological extremism of Al Franken will quickly become grating. That doesn’t mean that the Senator doesn’t have a fight on his hands, but it is a fight that can be won.