Monday, May 4, 2009
This guy is going to be a Senator . . .
Check out this photo! VN8
A COMEDIAN who had a walk-on part in the Rutles film spoof of the Beatles is poised to deliver a 60-seat super-majority to the Democrats in the Senate as President Barack Obama consolidates his grip on the levers of power.
Al Franken, 57, a satirist turned Democrat politician, is expected to be proclaimed the winner of the protracted race for the US Senate in Minnesota, in time to give Obama a free hand to appoint a Supreme Court replacement for retiring Justice David Souter without fear of Republican blocking tactics.
If Franken wins, Obama will hold an unassailable majority after Senator Arlen Specter’s sudden defection from the Republicans to the Democrats last week. A 60-seat majority would deprive the Republicans of the ability to scupper appointments and legislation by filibustering.
Norman Coleman, the Republican former senator, last week asked the Minnesota supreme court to count an extra 1,359 ballots, but his own side has all but conceded that Franken will win. “Most of us think that is going to happen,” said Paul Ryan, a Republican congressman.
Hillary Clinton, Obama’s surprise choice for secretary of state, has been mooted as a wild card appointment to the Supreme Court, but she would have to abandon any remaining presidential ambitions – an unlikely prospect.
Franken, a former presenter on Air America, the left-wing radio station, has been uncharacteristically quiet during the six-month recount. He holds a 312-vote lead over Coleman out of a total of nearly 3m.
Tad Devine, a Democrat consultant and friend of Franken, warned that his party’s softly-softly tactics would not continue indefinitely.
“Our side has not kicked into gear yet,” he said. “There has been a deliberate strategy not to make a big deal of the recount but if it drags on into the summer, we could raise the stakes and force the race to a conclusion.”
Franken’s vote will be needed not just for the Supreme Court appointment but also for healthcare reform, earmarked for the autumn. It is ironic for a comedian to wield so much power, Devine noted, “but Franken is certainly comfortable with irony”.