2008-06-12 / Sam Bari

Weird and scary political times

You can't beat a system you can't understand
By Sam Bari

The Democratic party finally settled on a candidate without making us wait for the 2012 presidential election. Despite the time factor, both Democrats and Republicans managed to select candidates armed with the educational background, credentials and experience that most would consider as reasonable qualifications for the job.

Just as things seemed to settle down, and the country appeared to be regaining a modicum of respect from the rest of the world, the great State of Minnesota reared its cold northern head and managed to come up with another weird political candidate. Al Franken was given the nod by the Democratic Party to run for the U. S. Senate. Imagine that.

I say "another weird political candidate" because Minnesota voters seem to have started a pattern. First they elected Jesse "The Body" Ventura, a community college dropout, Navy Seal, motorcycle gang member, Rolling Stones bodyguard and professional wrestler as their governor. Now they want to elect a Saturday Night Live comedian, author, Playboy columnist, and political talk radio show host as their U. S. Senator.

Now, mind you, being a political talk show host for his own program on Air America Radio for the last four years or so does make him something of a political pundit in the eyes of the far left.

However, is he really much more than a Democratic version of Rush Limbaugh, only with a liberal arts degree from Harvard College and serious back tax issues? Remember - the program is still "talk radio," an opportunity for every nut job on the planet to call in and speak his mind, or lack thereof.

Limbaugh never graduated from anything beyond high school. According to his mother, he flunked all his college courses before dropping out after a little more than two semesters at Southeast Missouri State University. At least he's had the decency to never attempt to run for political office.

Franken has never held an elected or appointed political position on any level either. However, anyone who authored and published a book titled, "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations" cannot be all bad.

Ventura's only political experience was a two-year term as Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minn., before his election to a two-year term as Minnesota's governor. His abrasive manner and lack of understanding about the workings of government was ill received by most of his colleagues when he was mayor. The feelings at the state house followed suit when he was miraculously elected as governor. He wisely chose not to run for re-election to either post.

The most surprising part of Franken's immediate rise to political fame was that his only competitor, college professor and peace activist Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, withdrew after Franken passed the necessary 60 percent threshold on the first ballot. Why would a political nobody like Franken scare off a university professor with a political science degree so easily? I can't imagine.

Nonetheless - What were Minnesotans thinking? Is getting bashed on Saturday Night Live a prerequisite for attaining high political office in the good ol' U. S. of A?

McCain, Clinton, and Obama all made appearances on the program as part of their campaign strategies during the primaries. Should we assume that Minnesota voters believe nearly two decades on the political spoof-fest as a basher as opposed to a bashee should make Franken a shoo-in for an office that could be used as a stepping stone to greater things?

I cannot help but wonder how launching a political career based on a background as a comedian and talk radio show host is perceived by people in other countries. Some folks take positions as heads of state rather seriously.

Never let it be said that I consider myself even close to being a political expert, so my criticisms should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. For all I know, a lighthearted approach to politics is just what the planet needs.

Perhaps we should engage Barnum & Bailey to take the helm of our political circus. Bozo the clown could be in charge of human resources and be the final word on who gets booked on SNL before any major election. A clown . . . Hmmm . . . How creepy.

Clarabelle, the equally terrifying clown of Howdy Doody fame could be used as the icon to get the "mature" vote.

The "blue collar" comedians, Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy could strategize the labor vote.

George Carlin could be appointed to foreign affairs to handle the tough cases, like trading insults with Hugo Chavez and any delegate from Iran. If he didn't succeed, we could always send in Rosie O'Donnell.

"Ahnold" Schwarzenegger and Jesse "The Body" Ventura could team with Jackie Chan and Jet Li on a foreign relations subcommittee.

The entire electoral system could be revamped. All public officials could be appointed to office according to Neilsen ratings and polls. As soon as public servants dropped in the ratings, they could be replaced as if they were cabinet members or comedy/dramas that appeal to teenage girls.

The finance committee could adopt the Hollywood accounting system so the budget would always look good and everyone would make a profit on paper.

Actually, when I look at this plan, it's not really much different from the way things are run now. I guess if Kinky Friedman, band leader of Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, could get 12.8 percent of the votes for Texas governor, Al Franken could be elected as a U. S. Senator.

Obviously, politics are a large part of that system we can't understand.

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