August 12, 2010

Shed a tear for the clown trapped in the place of no mirth.

The NYT does.
Cobwebbed by senseless rituals, speeches which no one listens to and rules that make it all but impossible to act on the will of the people, the Senate cries for more ridicule, decorum breaches and old-fashioned wit.
To get through that sentence you need to believe: 1. If only the Senate didn't require 60 votes for cloture, the bills that would pass would be what the people want, and 2. When the legislative process is dysfunctional, what you want is hilarity. Now, the column is about the Sad Clown of the Senate Al Franken, so we come to that sentence bearing another burden of credulity: that Al Franken is a rich source of wit and ridicule. As for decorum breaches... this is a different sort of mental obstacle for me. Under what circumstance is it good for an individual member of a legislative body to make himself an exception to the rules of decorum? Who does he think he is? He's not the star of a movie satirizing government. He's one of a group of equals who have taken on the public service of making laws.
... Little has changed since Mark Twain offered this assessment: “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
If Al Franken is such a wit, why are you quoting Mark Twain? Answer, via Mark Twain: Al Franken is an idiot.

Hmmm... would it breach decorum for me to say that Al Franken is a big, fat idiot?
... Absent any structural change, what the Senate badly needs is a jolt of humor, a clown to shame fellow members of the circus. More ridicule, more mirth under the spotlight to fight a mildewed sense of entitlement, could have the ironic effect of forcing senators to act like adults.
A clown to shame.... oh, yeah! You know the rich comic tradition of The Shaming Clown.

85 comments:

Big Mike said...

Hmmm... would it breach decorum for me to say that Al Franken is a big, fat idiot?

I hope not, because nearly everybody else is saying the same thing.

mesquito said...

I saw this at the NYT today and passed over it. I don't need lectures on mirth from humorless weenies, frankly.

Big Mike said...

Now that was interesting. I tried to Google The Shaming Clown and the first link that Google came back with was "Shed a tear for the clown trapped in the place of no mirth," posted by Ann Althouse.

You've gone self-referential!

DADvocate said...

It's funny how Franken is now fatter than Rush Limbaugh and also proven himself to be the idiot.

HDHouse said...

I have to say that Al Franken is not an idiot and those who think of him thusly are lambs to slaughter. You know that but you want red meat.

here is a clown..Petrushka...he isn't an idiot either...just a republican.

I give you Petrushka......

Pastafarian said...

You know, if a few years ago you'd told me that we'd have Senator Al Franken, President Barack Hussein Obama, and that the New Orleans Saints would be superbowl champions, I would have laughed in your face.

But of these 3, Senator Al Franken still seems the most unlikely, and unsettling. Even from Minnesota. What the hell, Minnesota? Is it so cold up there that you have to addle your minds with alcohol to make it through the day?

HDHouse said...

i misspoke...a typical repubican idiot.

John said...

Don't worry after November and especially after 2012, the New York Times will find new love for the decorum and sensibility of the Senate and its filibuster rule.

Seriously, do these people even listen to themselves?

AlphaLiberal said...

Uh, the filibuster is only one of the many arcane rules in the Senate being exploited by the irresponsible Republican minority.

And, yes, in the US Senate today the will of the people is thwarted. The People voted for these Senators under the American system.

Republicans and the Tea Party (approved only by 30% of Americans) think that the MINORITY should rule despite the results of American elections.

Conclusion: This gang no longer believes in America!

Comrade X said...

Truly, it's a shame that this world class comedian gave up his incredibly successful career on the D list to be in the Senate.

AJ Lynch said...

"D List"? Aren't you being a little generous? Heh.


wv = etize = a Drudge link some of the time

lemondog said...

'the' clown?

They are all clowns.

Congress is Clown College Central.

Any tears should be shed for the suffering general public mirthlessly trapped by their inanities and imbecilities.

AJ Lynch said...

"Arcane rules?"

If these arcane rules prevent our august Congress from passing laws, I say we need more and more arcane rules.

For instance, I bet the economy would have performed better if Obama & Pelosi had done NADA instead of passing a bunch of complex bills that no one read.

John said...

Alpha STFU. Seriously. You were posting on here in 2005 when the Dems were filibustering and you thought it was great. I understand that you are stupid. And you have my sympathy for that. But please stop pretending everyone else is stupid and will take anything you say no matter how stupid seriously.

DADvocate said...

Funny how the idiot Alpha cites a poll that 30% of Americans has a positive view of the Tea Party but conveniently leaves out that only 21% view Pelosi positively, 11% view Harry Reid positively and "Only 4 percent say that Congress has done above average or excellent work."

The Tea Party has become the favorite straw man of the libs trying to draw attention away from their massive failures.

shoutingthomas said...

This year Republicans are likely to pick up five to eight seats, making the Senate an even more ossified and stalemated place. If you read deep into the polls, you find the public is upset not because one party or the other is power. But because the peoples’ business does not get done.

This guy is really reading "deep into the polls."

Obamanauts are trying to find an explanation for the public's rejection of the great stimulus and health care plans that does not equal disliking those plans.

The problem isn't that the peoples' business didn't get done. We don't like the business they did.

The wise ass hipster kid fresh into NYC humor of SNL has been a bore for quite a while, too.

In fact, the entire hipster thing is completely worn out. See the relevant Hank Hill episode for the definitive critique.

Scott said...

"I have to say that Al Franken is not an idiot and those who think of him thusly are lambs to slaughter."

That's unusually incoherent, even for you.

John said...

ShoutingThomas,

As things go further south, the image of the hipster Obama supporting urban doofus is going to become a symbol of real derision in this country. By 2012, there will be no one who will admit to ever being one.

Scott said...

"Funny how the idiot Alpha cites a poll..."

I've always figured that someone must pay AlphaSockPuppet to recite his typical mindless talking points, because nobody could be that blindly partisan for free.

In that respect, he's a useful idiot. If you want to know what the current leftish garbage talking points are, see what AlphaSockPuppet is reciting.

He's the Tariq Aziz of Althouseland.

John said...

Scott,

I think of Alpha, along with Morty and Garage as sort of a franchise. Someone somewhere runs the whole thing for entertainment purposes.

Comrade X said...

Can someone point me to the Best of Saturday Night Live featuring Al Franken? He's the second longest tenured cast member, but I can't find it. Thanks.

peprgirl said...

So its ok for no decorum with Al Franken but its bad when "You Lie" is said by Joe Wilson?

Hypocrisy confuses me so....

Scott said...

@John: Maybe, but AlphaSockPuppet is not over-the-top enough. He writes like he's just phoning it in; which is why I figure someone is paying him to do it.

Jeremy might be in the franchise, though. He's so fried brain tweaker loony at times that he's got to be some conservative Moby out to make liberals look bad.

Clyde said...

Well, when Biden left the Senate to become Vice-President, it left a very large clown-shaped hole. Who else but former funnyman Franken to fill it? The main difference between the two seems to be that when Biden says something stupid, it's usually a gaffe, but when Franken says something stupid, it's usually intentional.

peprgirl said...

"Pastafarian said...
You know, if a few years ago you'd told me that we'd have Senator Al Franken, President Barack Hussein Obama, and that the New Orleans Saints would be superbowl champions, I would have laughed in your face."


Are those signs of the Apocalypse or is that when the Bills win?

Palladian said...

Someone to claim us, someone to follow
Someone to shame us, some brave Apollo
Someone to fool us, someone like you...

We want you Big Brother...

Hoosier Daddy said...

what the Senate badly needs is a jolt of humor...

No it badly needs a fresh new set of faces on both sides of the aisle.

jaltcoh said...

The NYT does.

No, Timothy Egan does. That's a signed post on the Opinionator blog, where Stanley Fish and Robert Wright also blog. You wouldn't say that commentary by Fish or Wright was by "the NYT," would you?

Kirk Parker said...

"They are all clowns. "

Yes indeed, with my own senior Senator, Patty "Osama the Daycare Provider" Murray up near the top of the list.

Palladian said...

The New York Times calls on Al Franken to wear indecorous breeches on the Senate floor.

Pogo said...

"What the hell, Minnesota?"


Senator Al "trunkful of ballots" Franken is history repeated, the second time as farce.

The first, the tragedy, was also a wrestler, name of Wellstone. He was a real lefty and therefore wrong, but he was the genuine small town type of guy you could talk to, even if you disagreed with him. And his first commercials (with the green bus) were hilarious.

Al "Acorn" Franken thinks eye-rolling and mugging while others speak is still as funny as it was back in 3rd grade.

Clyde said...

In maintaining proper decorum,
Al Franken has managed to bore 'em;
He used to be funny,
Now he spends others' money,
And the libruls no longer adore 'im

Scott said...

@Palladian:

"The New York Times calls on Al Franken to wear indecorous breeches on the Senate floor."

Ones with little hearts on them?

Hoosier Daddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

The real clowns are the Minnesota voters who put him in office. Even WV or Vermont wouldn't have elected this unfunny clown.

Even if the Senate needs wit/humor, Franken couldn't supply it. Nor do I consider it 'witty' to roll your eyes and make faces while another Senator speaks.

The 19th Century Senate was much less humorous. Senator's used to physically threaten and Cane each other. No joke boys then.

Brian said...

@Alpha:
You said "Tea Party" instead of "tea-bagger." So you already lost that one.

Yes, the senate filibuster rule is too easy to exploit. It should at least require a senator to actually stand and filibuster the bill instead of simply invoke it. Still, if the Democrats had wanted, they could have changed the senate rule, and lowered the cloture requirement to 59 or 58, and passed what they wanted. This was known as the "nuclear option," and it was something the Republicans didn't do while they held the senate, even in the face of Democratic filibusters that they could not overcome.

So the Republicans played by the rules, showed discipline, and the Democrats couldn't pass everything they wanted. Are you really saying, for example, if the senate could pass cap-n-trade, that would energize the electorate? Or card check? This would bring the independents back on board?

They already got Obamacare passed. They got the stimulus bill. They got GM and Chrysler. They're giving the teacher's unions whatever they want. You wanted to break down the Republican stalemate? Why didn't the Democratic Senators simply use the reconciliation to do the nuclear option, and then pass anything and everything? It couldn't be because they wanted the Republicans onboard for political cover, is it?

Even after Scott Brown won the special election in Massachuesetts, the Democrats held 59 seats. Even then, they couldn't bribe a single Republican to cross over for a cloture vote. If the mandate, and the agenda, was so freaking awesome & popular, why would the Democrats fail to pull all the stops? Because they're afraid of Fox News?

This is the senate, not gerymandered safe districts where the leadership and comittee chairs are all from safe districts where Republicans don't stand a chance. Ditto for Republicans; they're not safe either, so if you guys thought you could mount a challenge to them, they'd be quaking and compromising on the Obama agenda. Taking whatever they could get.

Where are the hundreds of thousands of protestors from across the country, who should have descended on Washington, in support of cap-n-trade? Card check? More raises for teachers? More money for public unions? Bailouts for state governments? More taxes? If it's that popular, why hasn't it spawned a movement equal to the Tea Party?

edutcher said...

Franken, as far as education goes, is a fairly well-rounded guy, judging by his couple of 'Jeopardy' appearances that I saw.

His skill as a comedian is pretty much based on how droll he could be. When he started getting fanatical about politics, like a lot of other Lefties, his ability to act rationally became impaired.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"What the hell, Minnesota?"


Indeed. Sometimes I picture Minnesota infested with mindless zombies as in Dawn of the Dead and Pogo has barricaded himself in the Mall of America.

Freeman Hunt said...

A clown to shame.... oh, yeah! You know the rich comic tradition of The Shaming Clown.

Ha ha ha!

I love the mental image of The Shaming Clown.

Freeman Hunt said...

Wait, isn't The Shaming Clown Jeremy's shtick?

Rich B said...

Al and Barry can get together to lament the fact that their jobs aren't as much fun as they thought they would be. Aside from the golf, vacations, fantasy sports and that mouth-watering Kobe beef.

Sorry Al.

wermin - pesty women! The View,perhaps.

Ann Althouse said...

"I have to say that Al Franken is not an idiot and those who think of him thusly are lambs to slaughter. You know that but you want red meat."

I will send Mark Twain a telegram letting you know you think he will be slaughtered.

Paddy O said...

"rules that make it all but impossible to act on the will of the people"

Wait a second, I thought we were against acting on the will of the people.

I mean a simple majority of people might do something like vote against gay marriage. The will of the people is not the goal, it's the problem.

Or is that just for some issues and not for others?

Hoosier Daddy said...

I will send Mark Twain a telegram letting you know you think he will be slaughtered.

Seance at the Meadhouse, midnight. Be there and bring chips.

ricpic said...

The Senate can't act on the will of the people because of a rule? What rule? I'll tell you what rule: the will of the ruling class shall be imposed on the will of the people by whatever means necessary.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Oh, Mom! Do we have to go to this circus again? I hate this circus."
"This is a wonderful circus! What are you talking about?"
"This is the one that has that sucky Shaming Clown."
"I know. I'm hoping he'll get you to eat your vegetables."

Scott said...

Homey D. Clown

Sofa King said...

Wait a second, I thought we were against acting on the will of the people.

Some people are people and some aren't.

Richard Dolan said...

Franken won in a year when having a "D" beside his name (really a "not-R") was enough. This cycle will see the election of many candidates for the same reason, the only difference being that they will have an "R" (really a "not-D") besides their name. As others on this thread have noted, when that happens, the NYT will change its tune about athe wisdom of Senate rules constraining the majority.

One of the significant changes in American politics over the last 50 years is the frequency with which we have 'wave' elections impacting on Congress, sweeping in many new members (like Franken) of the 'out' party who would not have won in a non-wave year. 1994, 2006 and 2008 all qualify; 2002 saw a big swing to the R team even though they held the White House. For those who remember the decades from the '60s to the '80s, control of Congress (either house) rarely changed even when the R team was racking up a big win (e.g., Nixon in '72). Even Ronnie's big wins in '80 and '84 were not enough to give the R team control of the House. Partly that was because the South was still in large part a D area at the Congressional level until the '90s. But partly it was just that the way voters reacted to their representative or senator was different then -- it was almost personal, certainly much less ideological. Today there is a much sharper difference between the two parties, the D team being much more liberal and the R team much more conservative. For better or worse, voters are more likely to view their representative or senator through that partisan lens today. It makes the Congress a much more volatile institution than it was.

I'm not sure it qualifies as progress, but it is pretty clearly today's reality.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Oh, stop sulking. Just wait until The Wary Acrobats come out. Remember how careful they were last year?"

DADvocate said...

the R team much more conservative.

Wrong. The R team hasn't gone hog wild liberal and may look more conservative by comparison. But, some of Bush's policies, he fully supported the Medicare prescription drug plan, were more liberal than any previous Republican president.

ricpic said...

A clown should be sad not happy,
A clown should be droopy not snappy --
Watteau and Emmett Kelly got it right,
Ronald McDonald is quite the fright.

michael-gunzip said...

Al Franken is yet another clown for the clown show:

Just Another Clown

You told us all a tale you would turn the tide.
You sang a pretty song, said you're on our side.
It took you little time to betray our trust.
You joined the frikking jokers and the joke's on us!

Hey hey hey hey hey it's another clown!
Just another clown for the clown show!

I see you shoving money into the machine.
I see a string of zeroes running off the screen!
The Ministry of Plenty still demanding more,
The freaking same old folly that has failed before!

Hey hey hey hey hey it's another clown!
Just another clown for the clown show!

Another clown!
Another clown!
Another clown!

Hey hey hey hey hey it's another clown!
Just another clown for the clown show!

And so the mask has slipped, you are just the same:
A carbon-copy con man with a different name.
To listen to your lameness should we laugh or cry?
In debt inside your dreamworld 'til the day we die!

Hey hey hey hey hey it's another clown!
Just another clown for the clown show!

Big Mike said...

On the other hand, the NYT commentator admits that Franken is a clown. That's a remarkable move towards reality for the NYT.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Shed a tear for the clown trapped in the place of no mirth.

What? Franken quit SNL years ago. He's in the Senate now.

P.S. Rumors of my slaughter are greatly exaggerated.

edutcher said...

rcocean said...

The real clowns are the Minnesota voters who put him in office. Even WV or Vermont wouldn't have elected this unfunny clown.

Even if the Senate needs wit/humor, Franken couldn't supply it. Nor do I consider it 'witty' to roll your eyes and make faces while another Senator speaks.

The 19th Century Senate was much less humorous. Senator's used to physically threaten and Cane each other. No joke boys then.


Only until Fort Sumter. After Appomattox and, particularly, the election of 1876, they all became collegial, which is Greek for partners in crime.

traditionalguy said...

Al Franken is an actor playing a part. He doesn't mean all those fighting words he spouts. He just has no real personality, so he clings to that fake feisty one when he is performing. How did Minnesota elect such a low powered pretense of a man to be Senator?

Freeman Hunt said...

The 19th Century Senate was much less humorous. Senator's used to physically threaten and Cane each other.

The Caning Clown, now that would be something!

Pogo said...

"How did Minnesota elect such a low powered pretense of a man to be Senator?"

Shamey the Clown got his Senate seat by:

1) Soros's successful project to control all the Secretary of State offices (the vote counters)

2) ACORN in Minnesota

3) Same-day voter registration, allowing lack of ID and a single person "vouching" for scores of new registrants

4) Minnesotans are largely incurable lefties, who wear their smug superiority on their sleeves (see Garrison Keillor)

hombre said...

Alpha wrote: Republicans and the Tea Party (approved only by 30% of Americans) think that the MINORITY should rule despite the results of American elections.

I'm sure others have or will point this out to you, Alpha, but Senators would be thrilled if they could muster approval from 30% of Americans.

It also seems both logically and factually ignorant of you to suggest that merely being elected guarantees that a politician continues to represent "the will of the people."

Freeman Hunt said...

"Oh, look! They've brought back The Demure Ringmaster!"

PatCA said...

Sure, mirth, that's what the nation needs more of.

JAL said...

Well. Murtha's gone.

All we've got left is mirth.

And mocking. Lotsa mocking.

We can and will outmock Al Franken.

Mwalimu Daudi said...

"Cobwebbed by senseless rituals...."

Yeah, like that Constitution thingamajig and the rule-of-law whosiwhatsit and all of that other crapola that liberals used to say they believed in so they could amass power and do the opposite.

No doubt the NYT is hoping to be just like China - concentration camps and all.

Keep in mind that when the NYT talks about "the will of the people", they mean the will of that dwindling band who still believe the NYT. The rest are racist unpersons.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Considering that Franken is a Senator and Althouse/Glenn Reynolds aren't Senators, I don't know that it's entirely accurate to call him an idiot. Especially since, while he's a lot of things, he's obviously not an idiot.

OTOH, the tea partiers are obviously idiots; if they weren't, they'd realize that calling Franken an idiot not only isn't accurate, it doesn't help them. If the 'partiers weren't idiots they could articulate grown-up reasons why they oppose him and try to turn his supporters against him. They aren't doing that for the simple reason that they are in fact idiots (in addition to having emotional issues).

Note: part of the 'partier idiocy is for their wee minds to think that the above is written in support of Franken, when in fact it isn't. In fact, I wrote all these posts about him. That site (I have several) is just for entertainment purposes; posts where I get political on him are here and here. I have to add that because 'partiers jump to conclusions and can't seem to write anything without lying. They also aren't too good with learning from their mistakes and learning from others' advice. In fact, they aren't too good at learning in general.

HDHouse said...

Ann Althouse said...
"I will send Mark Twain a telegram letting you know you think he will be slaughtered".

I've got his email in case you lost it. Telegrams are pretty old fashioned.

Mick said...

I kinda miss ole Manbearpig, he'd be a GENIUS in this session of congress!

Ken said...

I wish people would stop picking on Al Franken. He has done California a great service. By replacing Barbara Boxer as the idiot in residence in the Senate, he has relieved my home state of some of its shame.

ThomasD said...

YOU LIE!

c3 said...

I liked Franken on SNL (he was mainly a writer for them.) I liked his movie "Stewart Sammley Saves his Family" (i'm probably one of the few fans of the movie.) I even found a few funny lines in his first political book but I could see the downward spiral. Air America confirmed that trajectory.

I'm still amazed he was elected (but hey, they elected Jesse ventura also). This was inevitable. I'm sure he'll p**s a lot of people before he's done.

(But maybe he can saunter over to the house and teach a little comedic sense and timing to Dennis Kucinich. I swear if Mr. Kucinich could just work on his routine a bit he would be a great stand up comic.)

GM Roper said...

Professor Althouse, this is doubtless the finest post you have written. Thank you most sincerely. Any take down of Franken is appropriate, but this one has the added advantage of being brilliant.

GM Roper said...

Professor Althouse, this is doubtless the finest post you have written. Thank you most sincerely. Any take down of Franken is appropriate, but this one has the added advantage of being brilliant.

blake said...

Freem's on a roll!

"Up next, Iron Jim, the Reasonably Strong Man, and in the side show, don't miss Brenda, the 5-o'clock-shadowed Lady!"

Corsair, The Mostly Harmless said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Corsair, The Mostly Harmless said...

Well, I'm one Minnesotan who DIDN'T vote for this assclown, but this state does have a tendency to elect whackos to high office. See Also: Mark Dayton (who now wants to be governor), and Jesse Ventura, who turned out to be a truther.

I do reiterate however, that there is ample and credible evidence that Franken was elected through vote fraud. Sadly, the story has little traction in the extremly lefty press in Minnesota.

richard mcenroe said...

"...that Al Franken is a rich source of wit and ridicule."

Source,no. Font of inspiration, maybe.

But how does he top Kennedy, Grayson and Pelosi? Let alone Schumer, Durbin, McCain, Graham, Snowe, Collins...?

Lazarus Long said...

"And, yes, in the US Senate today the will of the people is thwarted."

That's what it was DESIGNED to do, you hitoric illiterate.

JorgXMcKie said...

"that Al Franken is a rich source of wit and ridicule."

Well, I'd say he's at least a rich source for ridicule.

Lazarus Long said...

"I've always figured that someone must pay AlphaSockPuppet to recite his typical mindless talking points, because nobody could be that blindly partisan for free."

Ah.

He's a sorosbot.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I used to have a pair of decorum breeches, but it was hardly ever appropriate to wear 'em.

mark said...

Twain also said, "All Congresses and Parliaments have a kindly feeling for idiots, and a compassion for them, on account of personal experience and heredity."
Mr. Franken's resume, it would seem, practically cries out for public office.

Jum said...

So the Times wishes the Senate would just lighten up so Al can get some stage time, eh? Right. What do you bet that at some time in the last few decades, the same New York Times has found it politically advantageous to summon up all of its bluest-blooded Sulzbergian patrician scorn over a conservative senator whom it had accused of offending the dignity of the ancient and august Senate?

I'd say it's about a 100% certainty that the NYT found its sense of decorum outraged because a Senator from a fly-over state was such a buffoon as to, say, wear white bucks on the Senate floor. And after Labor Day. Mon Dieu! Quel bouffon!

Or perhaps the Times decried an occasion on which an old Southern Republican shamefully jested, jested I say! Before the majestic assembly. It goes without saying the cretin was out of order. God...er,uh...I mean GAIA help the Republican who insulted the Senate with an off-center crease in his half-Windsor. He might as well have used a full-Nelson.

You may think I mock the reporters and editors of the Times. But no. My heart goes out to the carpal-tunneled wretches of the Times. It's hard enough getting the details of the stories straight; but these men and women have the additional burden of determining the political persuasion of the parties involved, and thereafter calculating the likelihood of gain to Democrats and/or harm to Republicans, so that the editors may correctly judge whether to run the story or not.

It's a heavy burden being a player instead of a limp, unbiased observer. But the kids at the Times accept it willingly.

shana said...

Brian wins the thread.

And just because it bears repeating, this man for whom the NY Times is shedding a tear threw a chair at my old boss because he disagreed with what she said.
He's not a clown. He's a thug and a bully.

HDHouse said...

Let's see here.

You have half a dozen senators who think that evolution is baloney and creationism is a science. You have more than a few who call global warming "just one of those things", and we can go on and on...and some here think that Franken is an idiot?

Oh my.

deborah said...

lol @ Tyrone Slothrop