DFL Values

posted at 7:23 am on May 30, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

I guess in the end it doesn’t matter much how Al Franken loses this election, but a broadside from two key members of the Minnesota DFL’s Congressional delegation reflects a strange set of priorities. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison attacked Franken not for his serial tax evasions or his failure to provide workers-comp insurance to his employees, but for a sexually graphic and sophomoric piece of fiction Franken wrote for Playboy eight years ago. Apparently for the DFL, breaking the law doesn’t rise to the level of outrage, but idiotic fantasy is a disqualification:

Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum said that a Playboy column written by Senate candidate Al Franken eight years ago was offensive and presents a serious political problem for Democratic candidates this year.

McCollum, who had supported Franken rival Mike Ciresi until he dropped out of the race, told The Associated Press on Thursday that she was worried that Minnesota Democratic congressional candidates will be running with a candidate “who has pornographic writings that are indefensible.”

“Do they spend all of their time defending him, or do they spend their time talking about issues that are important to this election?” she asked. “The whole story was a shocking surprise.”

Two other Minnesota Democratic lawmakers, Keith Ellison and Tim Walz, also expressed concerns Thursday about the 2000 sexually explicit satirical column, which Republicans began circulating last week. But Franken campaign spokesman Andy Barr made no apologies.

“Al understands, and the people of Minnesota understand, the difference between what a satirist does and what a senator does,” he said.

Michael Brodkorb at MDE has excerpts of Franken’s venture in Playboy; needless to say, it’s not safe for work. As satire, it’s not terribly remarkable, except to belittle the fantasy letters Playboy’s own subscribers might write. He uses graphic language and treats women as objects, which is to say that it fits in with the rest of the magazine and the Hefner oeuvre. The two most objectionable passages talk about his 12-year-old son using the Internet to write a report about bestiality and some references to oral sex, the latter of which has McCollum particularly incensed.

Franken tries to defend this as satire and as such off limits for criticism. I won’t go that far — satire can be just as offensive as the issues it satirizes, and this gets pretty tasteless. Minnesota Republicans will undoubtedly use this in the general election if Franken gets the DFL endorsement and wins the primary, which in this state are two different steps.

But let’s be clear about what this outrage from McCollum and Ellison demonstrates. Al Franken violated tax laws in seventeen states, either through incompetence or malice, for several years. He has avoided enforcement of workers-comp laws in New York that are intended to protect his employees, and has been dishonest about the circumstances that supposedly left him ignorant of the problem. The DFL doesn’t have a problem nominating someone to run for the US Senate with this track record of dishonesty, incompetency, and lawbreaking — but they balk at nominating someone who wrote a piece of silly sexual fiction?


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OK, DFL…you worry about his morals, we’ll worry about his legal issues.

It doesn’t matter to me, just as long as we’re all concerned about his fitness for the office.

James on May 30, 2008 at 7:38 AM

Democrats don’t want to make illegal activities seem wrong, lest there be scrutiny on their own dealings.

And attacking a sexually explicit column? I though liberals were all about “pushing the boundaries” and having “open minds” in all things sexual.

Grafted on May 30, 2008 at 7:38 AM

As a Minnesotan I find Mr Franken as a symbol of how empty the Democrat party (DFL in MN) is. Is this the best they have? A former SNL two bit comedian. He wasn’t even funny on that show.

The election of Jessie Ventura as governor is enough to know that in this state anything is possible with name recognition. Very sad indeed.

Dasher on May 30, 2008 at 7:42 AM

His big mistake was attempting to combine the two shortcomings when he told the tax man to go F$#K himself.

It is indeed interesting that the two members of the delegation thought the Minnesota voters would be more inclined to avoid Franken for his moral issues than him actually breaking the law. I guess the thought is that breaking the law is so common amongst politicians, its hardly worth mentioning. A sad state of affairs.

Syd B. on May 30, 2008 at 7:42 AM

All comedians hide behing the satire card, or the humor card. They think they can say anything, and then play the card.
The irony you bring out is that they think these writings are worthy of condemnation, but cheating on taxes and screwing people out of money is okay.
It’s the DNC way, that why we need someone along with McCain that wants a “clean house”.

right2bright on May 30, 2008 at 7:43 AM

I don’t know but I find violating the tax laws and writing those satire pieces for Playboy are both repulsive. At least there speaking out against something.

terryannonline on May 30, 2008 at 7:55 AM

The DFL in my state of MN will vote for this DillWeed even if he is caught buggering a 5 year old while smoking crack with Osama Bin Laden at a birthday party for NAMBLA…

sabbott on May 30, 2008 at 7:56 AM

Silly goose, taxes are only things Republicans need to pay.

And unless Al’s running as a family values candidate I don’t care about what he writes for Playboy. Er, wait, I do. I only read Playboy for the articles.

rbj on May 30, 2008 at 7:56 AM

And unless Al’s running as a family values candidate I don’t care about what he writes for Playboy. Er, wait, I do. I only read Playboy for the articles.

rbj on May 30, 2008 at 7:56 AM

Exactly…what a way to ruin a perfectly good issue of Playboy.

James on May 30, 2008 at 8:00 AM

Leave it to Democrats to take umbrage at a free speech issue.

drjohn on May 30, 2008 at 8:23 AM

What strange irony: they’re acting just like Republican politicians.

Professor Blather on May 30, 2008 at 8:35 AM

Don’t these clowns realize grandmothers vote too?

EJDolbow on May 30, 2008 at 8:46 AM

So……….the Democrats have a problem with Al Franken’s fiction, but nobody complained about Jim Webb’s?

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on May 30, 2008 at 8:53 AM

Priorities, people.

ZK on May 30, 2008 at 8:57 AM

The DFL doesn’t have a problem nominating someone to run for the US Senate with this track record of dishonesty, incompetency, and lawbreaking — but they balk at nominating someone who wrote a piece of silly sexual fiction?

If the DFL is looking to get Al Franken out of the race so they can put a more electable candidate in, the sex scandal is the way to go. Not paying your worker’s comp and state income taxes is a scandal, but not one that resonates with people because most people aren’t employers and don’t thoroughly understand those issues. But sex scandals – now that is something that can resonate.

Outlander on May 30, 2008 at 9:03 AM

The problem with you guys are that you are all confusing Franken with Smalley. These are two seperate persons. Franken is the serious candidate, and Stuart Smalley is the one causing all of the problems, don’t listen to Smalley.

right2bright on May 30, 2008 at 9:08 AM

I only read Playboy for the articles.

rbj on May 30, 2008 at 7:56 AM

Is “reading Playboy” and oxymoron?

right2bright on May 30, 2008 at 9:09 AM

Al Franken violated tax laws in seventeen states, either through incompetence or malice, for several years. He has avoided enforcement of workers-comp laws in New York that are intended to protect his employees, and has been dishonest about the circumstances that supposedly left him ignorant of the problem.

_
_
AND he likes soccer.

SlimyBill on May 30, 2008 at 9:12 AM

Minnesota Republicans will undoubtedly use this in the general election if Franken gets the DFL endorsement and wins the primary, which in this state are two different steps.

Really? That doesn’t seem very democratic.

funky chicken on May 30, 2008 at 9:19 AM

I’ll probably die of laughter if he somehow pulls this thing off.

Typhonsentra on May 30, 2008 at 9:35 AM

OOFFF!!! McCullom is a beast. It’s actually running against type that she’d be weirded out most by the oral sex comments by Al Franken. Isn’t the word that ugly girls and fat girls need to be good at oral?

RWLA on May 30, 2008 at 9:44 AM

Er, wait, I do. I only read Playboy for the articles.

rbj on May 30, 2008 at 7:56 AM

that is what I told my dad and mom when they found my stash way back when..

RWLA on May 30, 2008 at 9:44 AM

Not always.. *sigh*

DaveC on May 30, 2008 at 10:09 AM

“Typical dimocrats”

kcd on May 30, 2008 at 10:10 AM

Al Franken has taste? I’m still finding it hard to believe he’s a comedian.

GarandFan on May 30, 2008 at 10:26 AM

They can’t possibly get all worked up over something real, something on which the Republicans actually have a valid point. But they know it’s bad, so they latch on to something else he’s done so they can rise up in righteous indignation too.

Hypocrites.

Bob's Kid on May 30, 2008 at 10:35 AM

“Al understands, and the people of Minnesota understand, the difference between what a satirist does and what a senator does,” he said.

Will Al make that distinction if he get’s to the Senate? Just what the Senate needs, another court jester….

JohnnyD on May 30, 2008 at 11:27 AM

He uses graphic language and treats women as objects, which is to say that it fits in with the rest of the magazine and the Hefner oeuvre.

Not familiar with Playboy or the Hefner oeuvre, huh?

misterpeasea on May 30, 2008 at 12:42 PM

not for his serial tax evasions or his failure to provide workers-comp insurance to his employees, but for a sexually graphic and sophomoric piece of fiction Franken wrote for Playboy eight years ago.

Of course they are! They’re democrats! Which one is more shocking and plays to peoples’ emotions? Hello? McFly?

RMCS_USN on May 30, 2008 at 12:42 PM

I was prepared to be disgusted about this, but then I read this excerpt:

We made passionate love for two or three minutes before being joined by Dr. DeVine, who wanted to make the point that Sexbots will be used for threesomes.

Ha! That’s hilarious!

SlimyBill on May 30, 2008 at 3:09 PM

Of course they don’t mind electing law breakers. Ellison is one himself. He didn’t feel he needed to pay all his parking violations until he was in the public eye.

oakpack on May 30, 2008 at 3:59 PM

Minnesota is politically very liberal and socially conservative. A strange mix. Anyhoo, he needs to be Macaca’d and it would be so incredibly easy to do so.

foxforce91 on May 30, 2008 at 4:43 PM

Leave it to Democrats to take umbrage at a free speech issue.

drjohn on May 30, 2008 at 8:23 AM

…while ignoring tax evasion and stepping on the little guy’s workers comp.

91Veteran on May 31, 2008 at 12:14 AM