Sen. Franken has faced a daunting challenge in his first year as a US Senator. He barely won a highly contested and much publicized election with Norm Coleman and is part of a party/movement that is losing momentum rather quickly. Franken has also had to overcome a number of other obstacles. Many people (Republicans) have argued that Franken is unfit to be a Senator because of his previous employment in Hollywood and on Air America as a Radio commentator.
Franken has been in office for almost a year now and it has become clear over the past month that he has become a vocal and qualified leader and will continue to be for many more years. Everything started with the Joe Lieberman (Lie-berman) incident.
Now infamous, the Lieberman incident took place in the middle of December. On 12-18-2009 Franken denied Lieberman additional time to finish a statement. This is a very rare occurrence and John McCain noted that it was the first time he had seen this in the 142 years he has been in the US senate (really only 23 years).
Why is this important? Well, Franken shows his bulldog mentality here for the very first time in the senate. He doesn’t let Lieberman or McCain, members of the old republican political machine, beat him down.
Lieberman was talking about health care reform at the time and he is known as someone who flip-flops on the issues. Franken knew this and denied him time in a very professional manner. Killing him with Minnesota kindness!
Lieberman deserved to be shut down for a number of reasons. First is that he has turned his back on his constituents and his party on numerous occasions. At one point in 2006 he claimed that he was for Universal Healthcare. However, a few days before the Franken confrontation Lieberman told Harry Reid that he would filibuster this health reform. Apparently, he doesn’t think health reform is a pressing matter. Why else would you be willing to derail it no matter what?
Needless to say, it takes ‘balls’ for a freshman senator to challenge a career politician like Lieberman. But, enough about Joe, let’s talk about Al.
In a recent closed door meeting Franken “ripped into White House senior adviser David Axelrod” over the mishandling of healthcare legislation.
“Sen. Al Franken ripped into White House senior adviser David Axelrod this week during a tense, closed-door session with Senate Democrats. Five sources who were in the room tell POLITICO that Franken criticized Axelrod for the administration’s failure to provide clarity or direction on health care and the other big bills it wants Congress to enact. The sources said Franken was the most outspoken senator in the meeting, which followed President Barack Obama’s question-and-answer session with Senate Democrats at the Newseum on Wednesday. But they also said the Minnesotan wasn’t the only angry Democrat in the room. ‘There was a lot of frustration in there,’ said a Democratic senator who declined to be identified. ‘People were hot,’ another Democratic senator said. Democratic senators are frustrated that the White House hasn’t done more to win over the public on health care reform and other aspects of its ambitious agenda — and angry that, in the wake of Scott Brown’s win in the Massachusetts Senate race, the White House hasn’t done more to chart a course for getting a health care bill to the president’s desk.”
So, he isn’t afraid of roughing up a White House advisor and little ole Lieberman. Not impressed?
Well, how about going after NBC and Comcast executives. Franken was direct in voicing his concerns about this merger saying that he just doesn’t trust either corporation.
Franken is poised to take a position of leadership among a group of woefully impotent Democrat senators. Not only is he proving to be a pit bull in politics, but he is also proposing legislation!
He has proved to be remarkably bipartisan. This legislation a bi-partisan effort, he is willing to go after other Democrats who are failing to do their part and he is also working to get health care reform accomplished.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn) called on Friday for Senate Democrats to commit to passing amendments to its health care legislation through the process of reconciliation — so that the House can then pass legislation of its own.
In a call organized by the pro-reform group Health Care for America Now, the Minnesota Democrat laid out what he called a “pledge and pass” strategy for getting a bill into law.
“If we in the Senate pledge to fix those top priorities right away through reconciliation… the House of Representatives should pass the Senate bill. The exact details of this process need to be worked out by the leadership and the president.”
He won a highly contested election that cost millions and millions of dollars. He has overcome the image that he was a Hollywood outsider or a fake Minnesotan. It has become crystal clear over the past three months that Sen. Franken is able to become the aggressive and vocal leader the Democrats sorely need. Whether or not the political gods weigh in his favor, that has yet to be decided.
Editors note: This article was originally written in January of 2010.