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Why Did We Elect a TV Star?

Al Franken

I know, I know, you assumed this was another hit piece aimed at President Donald Trump. Why not, right? Everyone else does. I'm sorry to disappoint the 'Never Trumpers' but someone else caught my attention. Another television star turned politician. After watching the congressional hearings to confirm SCOTUS nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, I noticed that Senator Al Franken (D - MN), was going after him extremely hard. Some of his questions weren't really questions but accusations. "You've said that politics is still a little foreign for you," he told Gorsuch. "It turns out that's not entirely correct."

While Franken went after him on his dissent in the freezing trucker case, Gorsuch was ridiculed for his interpretation of the law. "Absurdity!" hammered Franken. Absurdity to follow the law as it's written? That's his job. There are several laws on the books that may be construed as absurd but his job is to enforce them -- period. Agree or disagree, no judge should twist the law for his own personal beliefs. If you want laws changed then go through the proper procedures and push for them to be changed. Don't attack a judge for following them.

Franken raised his voice and stood his ground. Some might have considered it grandstanding to heighten his political positioning for a White House run in 2020. The National Journal's Josh Kraushaar wrote in a column, "This is Al Franken's moment in the spotlight, and if he chooses, he could parlay his good fortune into a bid for the presidency in 2020." Nevertheless, he seemed to go after Gorsuch for two simple reasons: Judge Neil Gorsuch is a conservative selected by hated-by-the-Left Trump; and the fact that he's not Merrick Garland.

The current political temperature has left fighting right, and right fighting left regardless of the topic. The Democrats will make the excuse that they had to deal with calculated attacks under President Obama's 8 years in office and they wouldn't be completely wrong. The Right will argue that they faced the same obstacles the final couple of years of President George W. Bush's term and they also wouldn't be incorrect.

We've entered into an "anybody but (enter candidate)" era of politics. The end result now seems to be a middle school mentality of, "we're right and you're wrong," Period. The days of crossing the aisle to make a deal and negotiate seem to be gone with too many members of the House and Senate concerned with one thing -- re-election at any cost. Even if that cost is to the detriment of the American public.

So in an era made to seem that our election choices truly sway the pendulum of our Republic, why are television stars being elected to important positions in government?

The United States definitely isn't new to electing TV stars or famous people to office. Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Clint Eastwood come to mind. Those were huge celebrities and household names when they were elected. Then there are the names of TV stars that make you scratch your head. Sonny Bono (R - CA) from "The Sonny and Cher Show," served in Congress from 1995-1998. Fred Grandy (R - IA) who played the character of Gopher for 9 years in the popular 1970's show, "The Love Boat," served from 1987-1995.

Even Ben Jones (D - GA) who played Cooter (yes, I said Cooter) on the popular show, "The Dukes of Hazard," was elected in Georgia and served from 1989 - 1993. You might remember the controversy surrounding that show a couple of years ago when re-runs were pulled off the air because the featured car, the General Lee, had a confederate flag on the roof.

Gopher and Cooter aside, Minnesota isn't new to electing their TV stars and celebrities. Remember Jesse "The Body" Ventura? He was a professional wrestler and actor elected Governor in 1998 and served from 1999 - 2003.

To be fair to the people of Minnesota and Senator Franken, he graduated from Harvard University. Hardly a community college education. The Crimson of Harvard is considered an elite ivy league university. Elite, even though highly-sensitive students now need safe spaces to avoid words that might upset their delicate sensibilities. Make no mistake, a Harvard degree offers many opportunities.

After Franken received his prestigious degree in general studies, he embarked on a long career of writing and becoming a 'not ready for prime time player' on "Saturday Night Live" (1975 - 1980, 1985 - 1995.) He made "Stuart Smalley's Daily Affirmation" a can't miss sketch with the phrase, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone it, people like me." My personal favorite sketch featured the great Michael Jordon with Smalley. It was a classic.

What gave Franken the background and qualifications to be a Senator? Educated? Check. Smart? Sure. Politically suave? He hosted a political, nationally syndicated radio show, "The Al Franken Show," and wrote 4 books that were satires critical of conservative politics. In an era where more young people know the entire history of the Kardashian family over their own representatives -- maybe that's more than qualified. Was it his career on SNL? That's where he received the most notoriety. People on the left seem to be begging Alec Baldwin to run for office because of his hilarious impersonation of President Trump on -- SNL. "Yeah, that's the ticket." Sorry, wrong SNL character. Politics must be that easy.

With the SNL factor good enough for Franken, maybe someone close to Judge Neil Gorsuch should have made a suggestion. When asked to answer the congressional question of why he should be the next Supreme Court Justice, he should have looked in the mirror and said, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone it, people like me." That seems to work just fine.

 

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