I have been urging Senator Al Franken (D-MN) not to resign until the allegations against him are thoroughly vetted by the Ethics Committee.
Although nothing has happened to convince me he should resign prior to that hearing, I now believe that losing Franken in the Senate is actually gaining a leader that the opposition desperately needs.
“Al Franken, Unchained” will be Trump’s worst nightmare. If Roger Stone, a notorious Trump flunkie, had any hand in Franken’s resignation, it will be an even sweeter outcome when Franken lays waste to decades of lying and hypocrisy.
Freeing Franken’s wit and mockery to lead (yes, lead!) the opposition to Trump fills a void in Democratic party skills and perspective.
Before Franken was a senator, he wrote a few highly-acclaimed books mixing hard facts with his wit that exposed many rightwing zealots as liars and debunked their claims. But, he was a comedian, and did not have the credibility of a serious player who could could carry an argument or cause and make it stick. He was outside the arena.
Now, after eight years in the arena, where he acquitted himself brilliantly, he can box from inside the ring. Sunday talk shows, nightly news, cannot ignore him or his rallies (see below).
The best way to combat pathological lying and hypocrisy is mockery.
Why? Because once one indulges the impulse to correct the lies or expose the hypocrisy with facts and explanation, the battle is drawn, and the duel is between competing sets of facts that most listeners have neither the time, nor the interest or expertise, to judge.
The result is a draw; or, worse, that the winner is whichever is stated more often and with greater certainty, and that is usually the lie. One of the reasons Trump is such a successful liar is that his body language conveys not a scintilla of doubt or embarrassment, neither of which he is even capable of feeling.
Mockery, on the other hand, conveys that the lie is so absurd that it does not deserve the dignity of a point-by-point refutation. Mocking the lie enters listeners’ consciousness without having to leap the defenses liars’ constituencies have erected. It engages listeners’ “funny bones”, a pleasant experience. As the late and great Maya Angelou taught, “people rarely remember what you say; they remember how you made them feel”.
The master of political mockery, in the arena of politics not as outside comedians, was FDR. Here is but one example.
For more than two decades, I have been urging, pleading, cajoling, mocking, begging Democrats to launch a coordinated (that won’t fly!) operation that could take on the right-wing on its own terms, that would make them regret they ever raised certain matters by throwing it back in their faces, that would provide the American people with insights into what nonsense was masquerading as fact. I spoke to party leaders, presidential candidates, major donors. There were no takers.
Although part of the negative response was just cluelessness (I was often told, “we are already doing ‘it’”, without recognizing they did not even know what ‘it’ was), part may have been due to the absence of an obvious leader.
With ex-Senator Franken, that obvious leader has emerged.
So Santa, here is my Christmas list:
1. I want Al Franken to take on a leadership role in using his knowledge, wit and mockery to illuminate to the American people just who the right-wing is, what they are doing to their democracy, and expose their serial lying and hypocrisy for what it is.
2. I want the opposition to Trump et al. to coalesce behind Franken and use him as the leader to attract and build a movement for truth, for common decency, for decent lives for all Americans as the first goal of society; and for both “liberty AND justice for all”, as the pledge of allegiance states.
3. I want Franken to travel around the country, holding rallies (he will be entertaining while he is teaching), for these values and for and with candidates.
4. I want Franken to recruit Bruce Springsteen, the “Boss”, who said he feels guilty for not holding counter events next to Trump’s during the election, to add to the attraction of the Franken rallies, and to do what he said he laments not doing during the 2016 campaign whenever Trump goes out on the hustings.
5. I want Franken to remind people what the Republicans have done to them, starting with Bush tax cuts, the Iraq War, Katrina, the 2008 crash, and their obstruction to a black President who, nonetheless, rescued the economy and created a record unbroken string of months of job growth, and that the growth trends created by Obama have extended into 2017 because Trump has done nothing.
6. I want Franken to enable people to understand that the Republican Party, that has for decades claimed the mantle of patriotism and the American flag, has allowed an alien foreign power to manipulate our elections and has shown precious little interest in preventing it from repeating.
7. I want Franken to hold up Kansas and Louisiana as shining examples of what the “lay waste to acting for the common good through government action”, brings. Now that we know about the Corker Kickback, I want Franken to convey to people what has just been done to them by Republicans to line their own pockets. Out of the Senate, he need not pull punches.
8. I want them to crowd-fund these activities. A good cogent plan will have the credibility to attract the necessary funding.
Santa, I do not think this is asking very much. If you want there to be children who have been good enough to warrant your gifts, then their parents need to be good citizens.
If Santa grants me my wishes, I will simply say to Donald J Trump, “Merry Christmas” (now that I am “allowed” to say that of course!).