Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Al Franken on Al Franken

Bookmark and Share

"I think I've done a pretty good job, actually."

alfranken10.jpgIn the first of the "Connecting with Government" series presented by the Humphrey School's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, U.S. Senator Al Franken spoke at the University of Minnesota Tuesday on the subject of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education.

Although Franken set up his speech with a dour evaluation of the economic trend lines in the United States, he remained optimistic that a solution is in sight: the country needs to focus on infrastructure, technological innovation, and the education necessary to produce trained workers to fill jobs in these fields.

In a half-hour long speech and half-hour follow-up question and answer session with Center Director Larry Jacobs, Franken largely struck a serious tone, with only a few attacks against Republicans on Capitol Hill.

(The senator launched a few implied attacks against Republicans for not funding key infrastructure and education legislation and one against GOP U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his infamous comment, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.")

Although he peppered approximately one-dozen jokes into the event, Franken largely stuck to his policy guns, and that, according to Franken, is because:

"This is a serious job. I have real responsibilities to the people of Minnesota and I take it very seriously."

And why so serious?

Franken stated that when he went to D.C. he had the following concern:

"My Republican colleagues have an image of me because of the satire I've written and, you know, be a little skeptical of me, and my Democratic colleagues may be a little skeptical because they may be thinking I'm coming in here to grab the microphone and jump in front of the camera."

To alleviate these concerns of his colleagues, Franken says he took a cue from Hillary Clinton when she first entered Congress:

"Be a work horse, don't be a show horse...Go to your hearings, go prepared, go early, stay late. Be a good colleague. Make friends with your senators on the other side of the aisle. And I've done all that."

Franken also said he has purposely avoided the national press to help shirk the image that he was an attention-seeker, and says that "I do work in a bipartisan way."

And, for his concluding remark, Franken offered up this final self-assessment:

"I'm just working as hard as I can. I'm learning every day. And I think I've done a pretty good job, actually."

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Romney Speaks 8+ Minutes More than Closest Rival at SC Debate
Next post: What's So Special About South Carolina?

1 Comment


  • Senator Franken, isn't it true that comedy is often serious stuff. I wish you continued success. Good luck. David

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

    A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

    Political Crumbs

    Small Club in St. Paul

    Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


    Respect Your Elders?

    With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


    more POLITICAL CRUMBS

    Humphrey School Sites
    CSPG
    Humphrey New Media Hub

    Issues />

<div id=
    Abortion
    Afghanistan
    Budget and taxes
    Campaign finances
    Crime and punishment
    Economy and jobs
    Education
    Energy
    Environment
    Foreign affairs
    Gender
    Health
    Housing
    Ideology
    Immigration
    Iraq
    Media
    Military
    Partisanship
    Race and ethnicity
    Reapportionment
    Redistricting
    Religion
    Sexuality
    Sports
    Terrorism
    Third parties
    Transportation
    Voting