Monday, July 06, 2009

Mr. Franken Gets Lost in Washington

I found it more than funny seeing Sen. Harry Reid guide newly elected Senator Al Franken to the podium to discuss his priorities as he takes his office. Franken, with that Saturday Night Live smile and "gee golly" expression, was memorable. One of his opponents will use this when, or if, Franken runs for reelection.

Franken has completely out done himself by becoming the US Senator from Minnesota. In spite of the fact that many are crying that he has stolen his way into this elite club, Franken is in and Washington will be watching closely.

I worked in DC for many years, first as an aide to US Senator Gordon Humphrey (R-NH) and later with several think tanks and political organizations. I also was a friend with members of the US House. Members in that "lower chamber" are noted for their rough and tumble antics, propensity towards individuality, and constant fight to be recognized. The US Senate is the exact opposite. That organization is very much like a prestigious club, designed for the "best and the brightest" from each state. Compared to the US Senate, the House of Representatives is like Animal House.

Animal House, the famous movie developed by many of the people behind Saturday Night Live, would likely be a great place for Franken, since that program made him famous. He could even pull gags on his colleagues and be voted most popular, at least on the Democrat side of the aisle. This is not the case with the US Senate. You could see the look of anxiety on Harry Reid's face as they walked up to the microphone. The Majority Leader appeared to be holding his breath. There is this simple belief that, with many states literally electing dozens to US House seats based on their population, there is something special about the US Senate. Al Franken challenges that conventional wisdom.

Besides having among the most extreme views in the Senate (he may proved to be to the left of socialist Bernie Sanders), he has some of the most unusual behavior. He speaks his mind when and how he wants, regardless of how inappropriate it may be. It will be fascinating to see what kind of committees he ends up being on. A few likely possibilities are Veterans Affairs, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Indian Affairs, and the Joint Committee on the Library. They are going to try to put him in a place to minimize his air time and minimize the damage, he would likely place on his Democratic colleagues. On the other hand, it is the Democrats, so he could end up in the most important Committee assignments. We will have to see. Franken isn't leaving entertainment, he is just laying the groundwork for his next movie, "Mr. Franken Gets Lost in Washington."

Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business, the longest running show on AM 650 (M-F at 11 am) in Houston, Texas and on AOL Radio. His articles often appear in Chicago Sun Times, Reuters, USA Today, and other national media. Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal calls Price the “best business talk show host in the country.” Find out why and visit his blog at www.BizPlusBlog.com and his show site at www.PriceofBusiness.com. You can also find Price on Strategy Room at FoxNews.com.

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