Bob Franken

A City with Two Frankens


It looks like Washington is going to finally have to face the truly big question, which is, of course, whether this town is big enough for two Frankens.

After the Minnesota Supreme Court Tuesday declared Al Franken the winner in the disputed Senate race, rival Norm Coleman conceded.

Al and I are distant cousins. But since he began his quest for the Senate way back when, we have studiously avoided any contact whatsoever.

This is a case where water is thicker than blood. There was no way we could reconcile his commitment to Democratic politics and my commitment to journalistic disdain for any partisan endeavor.

Which is why, now that the bizarre post-election legal contortions have finally untwisted, and it looks like Mr. Franken will come to Washington, I am refusing calls from news people who want me to comment. My comment is what I say here from the vantage point of a Washington reporter and not as a Franken.

Having said that, I will reflect on the so-called “filibuster-proof” majority Al, excuse me, Sen. Franken will bring to the Democrats. The concept of filibuster-proof in the Senate is laughable; each member’s loyalty to party is dwarfed by the one to his or her individual ego. By now it’s a cliche that a party leader in the august upper chamber is like someone who tires to herd cats.

Like everyone else, I will be curious to see how Franken’s razor-sharp wit will fit in with the anachronistic bombast the defines debate. The rules of the Senate demand “comity.” It might be tough for Franken to make the move from comedy.

Nevertheless, the nation’s capital is about to welcome Sen. Franken and I look forward to welcoming him too…with my usual barrage of skeptical questions.

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