Monday, July 6, 2009

Al Franken’s Secret

Paul Krugman has the lowdown on the new Senator from Minnesota.

Al Franken’s dirty secret is that … he’s a big policy wonk.

I used to go on Franken’s radio show, all ready to be jocular — and what he wanted to talk about was the arithmetic of Social Security, or the structure of Medicare Part D.

In fact, the only elected official I know who’s wonkier than Al Franken is Rush Holt, my congressman — and he used to be the assistant director of Princeton’s plasma physics lab. (The campaign’s bumper stickers read, “My Congressman IS a rocket scientist.”)

So what will Franken do to the level of Senate discourse? He’ll raise it.

The role model for Mr. Franken appears to be the last “celebrity” that joined the Senate, Hillary Clinton. Remember how her detractors in 2000 said she would be the Leona Helmsley of Capitol Hill and only use her position of power to get what she wanted for herself, and that she would ignore her mundane duties of constituency service for the glitz and glitter of the Georgetown cocktail circuit? She was nothing of the sort, and I suspect that neither will Al Franken.

As Dr. Krugman also notes, the Senate has no need for another class clown; James Inhofe (R-OK), has that part covered very well.