"I'm ready to get to work, thank you."
-Senator Al Franken, on Capitol Hill, to national reporters
Before turning to politics, Al Franken was a professional comedian, a fact that in his critics' eyes stamps him as insufficiently serious to perform the duties of a United States senator.
Those critics got plenty of mileage out of that characterization during last year's campaign in Minnesota, hyping out-of-context bits of Mr. Franken's past work to portray him as a crude and erratic fringe figure–a strategy that worked out well enough to force Mr. Franken to apologize on the campaign trail.
Now, as he finally begins his Senate career, Mr. Franken is intent on proving to Minnesotans that he is nothing like the G.O.P caricature of him, and that he is not in it for the national attention. Hence his strict policy of talking only to the Minnesota media. And hence quotes like this one.
In 1948, after finally being sworn into Senate after a protracted recount and court challenge, Lyndon Johnson instructed colleagues and reporters, tongue in cheek, to call him "Landslide Lyndon."
But Mr. Franken can't do anything like that, because then the press would play his remark over and over and his critics would say that he's just a comedian after all. So the onus is on Mr. Franken to be as boring as possible. To prove he's serious. How silly.
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