Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Al Franken For Senate!

Former (sadly, as of today) Air America radio host Al Franken has announced his run for the Minnesota U.S. Senate seat now held by Norm Coleman (and before that, by Franken's political hero, Paul Wellstone). I don't live in Minnesota, of course, but Franken has been a tireless voice for progressive issues and in opposition to the current right-wing regime, so his run is of interest to us all. Besides, his Midwest Values PAC supported Democratic candidates all around the country in 2006, including our very own Joe Courtney and Diane Farrell... so I, for one, plan to return the favor. Here's Al's announcement video:

Here is Franken's campaign website, where you can contact the campaign, read Al's bio, or contribute.

I have contacted the campaign to find out what out-of-staters can do to help; I'll let y'all know what I find out.

When I posted an earlier version of the above as a diary at the Connecticut progressive blog My Left Nutmeg, a commenter quickly replied that Al Franken "is pro-war," and that progressives should hope for a better Democratic candidate, linking to two articles (here and here) by one John Walsh, posting at CounterPunch, a self-described "bi-weekly muckraking newsletter."

I admit I'm not familiar with John Walsh, but a quick scan of the articles to reveals an extreme POV: Anyone who thinks Sam Seder, Janeane Garafalo, Randi Rhodes, and Rachel Maddow are insufficiently antiwar, or that the network that put them all on the air is "little more than a mouthpiece for the DNC" is just not going to be satisfied with any feasible candidate!

I've listened to virtually every Franken show for more than 2 years, and I can say without hesitation that Al is the polar opposite of pro-war! I defy anyone to listen to the show (at least some of the podcasts are still archived, though you may need to join Air America Premium to get them) with anything even vaguely approaching an open mind and conclude that Franken can be fairly called "pro-war."

John Murtha, whom Walsh claims Franken doesn't support, is actually something of a hero to Franken... so much so that he almost had an on-air falling out with regular guest Melanie Sloan when she called Murtha on his ethics issues. I've never heard him say anything bad about Murtha. Al supports the "soft partition"/redeployment-to-Kurdistan plan advanced by Peter Galbraith, et al., which may not be identical to what Murtha proposes, but it's similar in spirit... and certainly not a stay-the-course position. One thing about Franken is that he's willing to listen to other people's ideas (are we to believe this is a bad trait in a legislator??)... but I've never heard him agree with, or express support for, anything that could be called pro-war or pro-escalation.

It's also true, as Walsh notes, that Franken has covered corruption, fraud, and incompetence in Iraq contracting: Tom Ricks' Fiasco, which Franken calls "indispensible" is something of a bible for the show. Does this make him pro-war? Because the war itself is immoral and evil, we're supposed to give crooks and war profiteers a free pass? The mind boggles!

Franken has also covered veterans' issues and troop equipment issues (e.g., the founder of Operation Helmet has been a frequent guest), and every year he goes on USO tour in the Iraq and Afghanistan theatres. Do these things make him "pro-war"? Many, if not most, liberals and progressives have taken the position that they oppose the war but support the troops; few... perhaps none... have honored both ends of that proposition as completely as Al Franken.

And the Al Franken show has also covered issues not related (or at least not directly related) to the war (e.g., the DeLay, Cunningham, et al., scandals). Does this make him an unacceptable candidate for Senate in 2008? think about it for a moment: If elected, Franken won't finish his first term until 2014. I pray to all that's holy that the Iraq war won't still be the primary issue of the day by then; if it is, we're doomed in any case. Among all the other tragedies of this war, one is that it's distracting us from all the other ways in which the right-wing regime has hosed up our government. While the war is clearly the most critical moral challenge of our time, it is not the only challenge facing our government; we elect representatives who focus on the war to the exclusion of all else at our peril.

You may be able to think of reasons (though personally I cannot) not to support Al Franken... but the notion that he's pro-war is not one of them.

IMHO, of course... ;)

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