Politics & Policy

Why I Won’t Fight Al Franken

Al Franken called yesterday to challenge me to a fistfight.

Al Franken called yesterday to challenge me to a fistfight.

#ad#No boxing gloves, no rules, no time limits — just me and Franken, in a parking garage, until someone cries uncle. Loser pays $1,000 to the victor’s charity of choice..

It’s not often that you get an opportunity to punch one of those cloying celebrities whose voices are played over and over again in New York taxi cabs, urging you to buckle your seat belt. Franken’s message is — characteristically — one of the most irritating. So, part of me is delighted that he called (although Placido Domingo or Joan Rivers would have been even better).

Franken’s challenge, naturally, has a political point. He saw me on C-SPAN the other day giving a talk in which I decried the way liberals and feminists are promoting the feminization of America, and called for a defense of traditional notions of masculinity. Franken now thinks I should prove my own manliness by grappling with him in a garage.

This makes a certain amount of sense. If I had to choose a male representative of the feminization of America to punch, the former SNL comic, who has always vaguely reminded me of Richard Simmons, would do as well as any.

A slapdown with him would also have the advantage of being a decidedly low-risk engagement. Whenever someone challenging you to a fight stipulates that he is nearly 50 years old and has a bad back, it’s a strong incentive to say “yes.”

All that said, the premise of Franken’s challenge is wrong. He makes the same mistake that the columnist Richard Cohen did in objecting to Christina Hoff Sommers’s argument that masculinity is under assault in America — namely, associating the hallmarks of adolescent males (toilet humor, crass sexuality, fistfights, etc.) with manliness.

Franken told me he wants our fisticuffs to be “just like The Fight Club.” But The Fight Club — just like the popular gross-out movies Cohen cites as evidence of the triumph of men in our popular culture — really portrays a perversion of masculinity.

As for Franken’s offer, in these matters it’s always best to ask, What would Gary Cooper — as good an approximation of the gentlemanly ideal as any — do? When challenged to a unnecessary fight, his instinct would always be to walk away.

So, I regret to say I won’t be bruising Al Franken anytime soon. When I called to let him know a few minutes ago, he told me his son made him promise to say that he was “just kidding” when he made his challenge.

The sound that you now hear, obviously, is a collective sigh of relief from the Franken household.

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

Most Popular

Immigration

Angela Rye Knows You’re Racist

The political philosopher Michael Oakeshott said that the “rationalist” is hopelessly lost in ideology, captivated by the world of self-contained coherence he has woven from strands of human experience. He concocts a narrative about narratives, a story about stories, and adheres to the “large outline which ... Read More
Immigration

What the Viral Border-Patrol Video Leaves Out

In an attempt to justify Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s absurd comparison of American detention facilities to Holocaust-era concentration camps, many figures within the media have shared a viral video clip of a legal hearing in which a Department of Justice attorney debates a panel of judges as to what constitutes ... Read More
Film & TV

Murder Mystery: An Old Comedy Genre Gets Polished Up

I  like Adam Sandler, and yet you may share the sense of trepidation I get when I see that another of his movies is out. He made some very funny manboy comedies (Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy) followed by some not-so-funny manboy comedies, and when he went dark, in Reign over Me and Funny People, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Making Sense of the Iran Chaos

One would prefer that correct decisions be made according to careful, deliberate plan. But a correct decision made impulsively, through a troubling process, is still nonetheless correct, and so it is with Donald Trump’s decision to refrain from military action against Iran. The proposed strike would represent a ... Read More