The nation’s funniest senator speaks of the strange ways of government by “old white men.”
Franken, the Democratic senator from Minnesota and survivor of the early years of Saturday Night Live, is a definitively humorous fellow and about as candid as any politician can be expected to be. As he opens this memoir/user’s manual, he recounts that he is asked from time to time whether holding a seat in the Senate is as much fun as having been on SNL back in the glory days, to which his response is, “why would it be?” Why, indeed? He finds that his stock is increased among his Republican counterparts, however, when they learn that he knew Broderick Crawford, the tough hero of the classic law-and-order TV series Highway Patrol—proving, he says, precisely the oldness and whiteness of the legislative body, and mostly for the worse. Along the way, Franken is open about discussing his wife’s alcoholism and the effect it had on his first run for the Senate; far from being a liability, voters appreciated both the humanity and humility of their openness about the problem and Franken’s loyalty alike. The same problem was more insidious with the author’s erstwhile comedy partner Tom Davis; suffice it to say, as Franken does, that his reaction to the addiction “had made me a much less pleasant person to be around.” If anything, the author comes off as affable without being overly yielding, friendly but ready to scrap, and an unabashed devotee of the “Hillary Model”: “Be a workhorse, not a showhorse. Go to all your hearings. Come early, stay late. Do your homework. Don’t do national press. Be accessible to your state media and to your constituents.” And though he allows that Republicans “are just awful,” he also holds that Democrats have to accommodate the fact that they exist and try to get things done with them—all except maybe Ted Cruz.
Here’s how the sausage is made on Capitol Hill—and in Franken’s case, made with a smile.