Last Friday, June 17, was not a good day for the Al Franken radio show. Al was “down,” sounding like he was on the verge of tears, not such a good disposition for a comic. It seems his listeners had let loose on him when he proclaimed that he “agreed with Bush” on the question of withdrawal from Iraq. That is, Franken does not support the Murtha proposal to depart posthaste and call it “redeployment”; in fact Franken does not support any timetable for withdrawal at all. The emails and phone calls apparently poured in after this most explicit declaration yet of his long-held position. Here is the email I sent after hearing him say, in the course of declaring himself a disciple of Bush, that his radio program was the site of genuine “debate” about what to do in Iraq:
Today you did not tell the truth about the War on Iraq. You have never had a real debate on your program about immediate withdrawal, which is the position of over 70% of the Dem Party – although not that of the moneyed Dem Establishment (e.g., Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid) to which you seem to be very much in thrall. (By the way, this shows that the Democratic Party is not democratic (small “d”).)
You were pro-war before the war and now you remain pro-war. Do you know how that strikes the ear when you talk about your children who, like the Bush kids, do not go to fight whereas other less privileged kids, one of them the daughter of friends of mine, do?
Why you take this manifestly absurd position is unclear. You are a smart guy, even though you went to Harvard (joke). So what is up? Is it ambition for public office that leads you to take the Establishment position? Or is it loyalty to Israel? I do not know your position on Israel; but you have never, to my knowledge, discussed the oppression and plight of the Palestinians.
Along those lines you have never had a discussion of the Mearscheimer and Walt paper, and you must be familiar with it.
So by omission you lie. And hence I have to stick with my piece in CounterPunch.com, from about a year back, “Al Franken is a Big Fat Phony.”
Perhaps some day you will catch up to Randi Rhodes who, after years of hanging up on callers who advocated immediate withdrawal from Iraq, has finally come around. And she is finally talking about Third Parties without the pressure of which the Dems will never change.
p.s. Why not have on Justin Raimondo of antiwar.com or Kevin Zeese or Ralph Nader to discuss the anti war position? Or have two of them. You and Richard Perle or your frequent guest, Norm Ornstein, or some other reactionary from AEI could take the other side.
In fact there was apparently such a furor from many others that Franken opened up the phones, something he rarely does now, and he took all of three (3!) calls. The final one came from a retired military guy in Minnesota who made it clear he was for getting out of Iraq pronto and told Franken that he was disappointed in him. The caller also noted that he had two friends, both conservatives, a retired policeman and a firefighter, who did not vote in the last election but would have voted for Kerry had he been against the war. That was the final call. Franken went back to his guest list of minor celebrities and Democratic Party hacks.
Why was Franken shaken by all this? Does he see a threat to his run for Senate in Minnesota? Does he perhaps have some twinge of guilt over the hundreds of thousands killed or maimed in Iraq while he calls for fighting on, with his own kids, who are of military age, nice and safe? Maybe his hypocrisy was too much for him to bear for a few minutes with the barrage coming at him. But he was soon back on track – like Luisa in the Fantastiks.
Franken reaches a lot of people and so he has a lot of responsibility. He must be counted as one voice shoring up support for the war especially among Democrats. It is time for antiwar groups in Minnesota to look for a candidate to run against Franken for Senate in 2008. It would be pathetic to reward his complicity in the war effort with a seat in the U.S. Senate.
JOHN WALSH can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com.
Lest his comments above on Randi Rhodes be misconstrued, she still has a long way to go.