Politics & Policy

St. Paul’s Going to Go for This?

We've seen the Mormon Factor this season. Is there an Anti-Catholic Factor? A Hot Asian Teen Joke Factor?

‘Isn’t Cardinal O’Connor an a**hole?”

These words are from the prolific Al Franken, now running as Democratic nominee for United States Senate from Minnesota.

#ad#Media Matters, that great liberal guardian of standards, defends the remark. Writer Eric Boehlert says, “Trust me, in New York in the 1990s, that was not as provocative a statement as it seems today; O’Connor was an extraordinarily political and, at times, divisive figure.”

And they complain George Bush isn’t diplomatic. Perhaps liberals don’t have to be?

These are some of Franken’s greatest hits. I don’t find them funny. Can Minnesota voters?

Of course, the question of his skills as a comedian is a matter of taste — a subjective thing and irrelevant to qualifications for Congress. Presumably someone bought his books for more than utter hatred of the Right. But the author of Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot is not only a crude, mean comic, but he’s within shooting distance of possibly unseating Republican senator Norm Coleman. Yes, that’s right: While the rest of us are getting used to the possibility of an Obama-Pelosi-Reid Washington, there’s more to the worst-case scenario. There could be a Senator Al Franken in the United States Senate.

What’s not a matter of opinion is Al Franken’s nasty streak — in all meanings of the word. Besides his disrespect for prominent religious figures (which may explain why anti-religion comedian Bill Maher has contributed money to Franken’s campaign), apparently the former Saturday Night Live comedian and failed Air America host’s dabbling in writing pornography for Playboy hasn’t bothered a good segment of the Minnesota voters who respond to polls. That he makes jokes about child molestation and rape evidently isn’t much of a problem for Franken supporters. But perhaps, in this land of religious liberty, his anti-Christian streak might matter. Way beyong gratuitously dissing a cardinal, Franken is the proud author of a body of work that ridicules the Resurrection, and holds a special disdain for the Catholic Church, excoriating the Eucharist and Confession — which are sacraments, Mr. Franken, and thus a big deal to some of your potential constituents. He characterized the Church’s position on embryonic-stem-cell research as “idiotic.” Local columnist Katherine Kersten has chronicled his crass anti-religiosity in her Minneapolis Star Tribune column.

One of Franken’s high-minded contributions to American literature begins:

God chose me to write this book.

Just the fact that you are reading this is proof not just of God’s existence, but also of His/Her/Its beneficence. That’s right. I am not certain of God’s precise gender. But I am certain that He/She/It chose me to write this book.

This isn’t hubris. I’m not saying this in an egotistical way. God didn’t choose me because I’m the greatest writer who ever lived. That was William Shakespeare, whose work I have a passing familiarity with. No. I just happened to be the right vessel at the right time. If something in this book makes you laugh, it was God’s joke. If something makes you think, it’s because God had a good point to make.

The reason I know God chose me is because God spoke to me personally.

God began our conversation by clearing something up. Some of George W. Bush’s friends say that Bush believes God called him to be president during these times of trial. But God told me that He/She/It had actually chosen Al Gore by making sure that Gore won the popular vote and, God thought, the electoral college. “THAT WORKED FOR EVERYONE ELSE,” God said.

“What about Tilden?” I asked, referring to the 1876 debacle.

“QUIET!” God snapped. God was angry.

God said that after 9/11, George W. Bush squandered a unique moment of national unity. That instead of rallying the country around a program of mutual purpose and sacrifice, Bush cynically used the tragedy to solidify his political power and pursue an agenda that panders to his base and serves the interests of his corporate backers.

God told me that Bush squandered a $4.6 trillion surplus and is plunging us into deficits as far as God can see. And that Bush squandered another surplus. The surplus of goodwill from the rest of the world that he had inherited from Bill Clinton.

And this was p***ing God off.

He/She/It was right. But it sounded like a lot of work.

“Look, God, I’m flattered, but I think you got the wrong guy. The kind of book you’re talking about would require months of research.”


“Very funny, God. I use Google all the time.”


“You must be thinking of my son, Joe.”


“Okay, okay.” I changed the subject. “It’s just that I can’t do this book myself.”

“LEAVE THAT TO ME,” God boomed.


I got on my knees and prayed for guidance. “How, God, can I best do Your work through this book? Who, dear Lord, is the audience for a book like this? And what’s a good title?”


“The best-sellers that claim there’s a liberal bias in the media?” I asked.


Franken’s profane God goes on to reveal his Bush Derangement Syndrome. Its not Franken’s most outrageous by far, but it is (relatively) fit for a family website.

If God is your light and your salvation, you need have no fear of Al Franken. But his approach may p**s you off — and you have every right to be offended. As the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue put it earlier this week: “Franken’s diatribes against Catholics are not in jest. As Hillary Clinton said about him last week, he tells ‘truth through jokes.’ And the truth is that when Franken mocks the Body and Blood of Jesus, and jokes about the discovery of ‘the complete skeleton of Jesus Christ still nailed to the cross,’ his mean-spirited digs are designed to be injurious.”

It’s a free country, and if the people of Minnesota want someone with such disregard for the sacred in the Senate — not to mention one who is way too comfortable giving the impression that porn and even child abuse and sexual violence are just one big joke — they are at liberty to send him there. But I hope they know who Al Franken is before they make the call on Tuesday. The choice will not only be a signal from Minnesota, but a defining of the Senate down. I know the Senate’s performance can leave a lot to be desired, but it’s still no joke.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.

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