I’m so disappointed in Al Franken.
I was about halfway through this audiobook when the women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment. I was deeply disappointed because I had really been enjoying listening to Franken’s audiobook. I was enjoying it enough that I decided to finish listening to the audiobook despite the fact that I was mad at Franken.
It’s a really good book and Franken is an excellent narrator. He talks a little about his life growing up, his family, and his work on SNL, but most of it is devoted to discussing his work as a U.S. senator for Minnesota.
The impetus for Franken running for office was the previous senator dying and the guy who took his place saying something really dumb and insensitive. But, even though he was propelled to the Senate by spite, Franken had always had an affinity for politics and much of his work on SNL had been political.
Franken discusses the struggles of campaigning, the stupid questions you get asked, the things your opponent will take way out of context, and how to pivot when asked a question you know you can’t answer without having it get twisted and come back to bite you in the ass. His descriptions of his conversations with staff and how they trained him to be a politician are priceless.
I especially liked Franken’s term “dehumorizer,” which he uses to describe how his opponent will take any joke he says completely out of context to make it sound like Franken is a total jerk. Franken, a lifelong comedian, struggled with his impulse to tell a good joke, even if he knew it would be used against him later. He really struggled to put the comedian label behind him and be taken seriously as a Senator.
Aside from being funny (which it is), this book also deals very seriously with our country’s political climate over the past few decades. He talks about Republicans repeatedly choosing party over country, while also describing what it takes to get stuff done in Washington, i.e. reaching across the aisle and finding someone from the other party to support any bill you want to try to make into law.
He talks about healthcare and how America’s system compares to healthcare in other developed countries, and Republicans opposing it, not because they don’t agree that it’s necessary, but just because they don’t want Democrats to accomplish anything.
I was also intrigued by Franken’s description of Republicans’ approach to climate change. According to Franken, even the staunchest climate change deniers know there’s a problem, they just refuse to admit it for political reasons. Franken even describes them as having a look of, “Oh, thank goodness someone is looking into this,” when viewing presentations from environmental conservationists. That’s great, but how are the rest of us supposed to deal with the people in our lives who have swallowed all their fantasy about how climate change isn’t a thing?
I do still recommend this book, especially if you’re looking to understand more about our country’s political climate and how we got here. I especially recommend the audiobook because Franken impersonates various political figures and his impersonations are all spot on. On the other hand, if you can’t stomach hearing Franken’s voice right now, I totally understand.
I will say that I’m disappointed he resigned. We need every one we can get on our team right now, and with major issues like net neutrality, we can’t afford to lose anyone. And frankly, I’m kind of sick of Democrats always feeling like they need to take the high road while Republicans continue to drag the rest of us into the mud with them.
What did you guys read this week? Anything else whose meaning was affected by current events?f