Imagine a political outsider with a significant media profile winning a narrow and bitterly contested election. When the outsider was sworn in he pivoted from the utter comedian and buffoon his detractors thought he was to a serious legislator bent on serving his constituents the best he could, and got to work learning the customs and procedures of representative government. Pouring over tomes of policy briefs, working across the aisle…
You could call that a pleasant fantasy, or you call it story of Senator Franken, and it’s the story– among others– that he details in Al Franken Giant of the Senate. Let me stop right now and say this: DON’T READ THIS BOOK. Listen to it on audiobook. Franken is a gifted humorist– one of the original and longest-enduring writers and actors on Saturday Night Live– and he knows how to intone and land a joke he wrote. His impersonations of Washingtonians like Mitch McConnell or Bob Corker or Ted Cruise are hilarious.
Kaitlyn Grigsby-Hall and I drove across Canada on our from Eugene, Oregon to Salisbury, MD, and listened to a number of audiobooks. Franken’s book is funny and informative– he wants to take pains to explain wonky political machinery not to lambaste it or bore you, but to help you understand how Washington works (or doesn’t). He is an unabashed liberal who continues to skewer lies and the lying liars that tell them, but he also makes a pragmatic pitch for bipartisan muddling through. He is clearly going to run for president, and this book is a great start to that effort.
Kaitlyn wants me to add that it is worth listening to this whole book just to hear the chapter “Sophistry,” in which Al Franken details his feelings about Ted Cruise.
Availability: COSMOS (Print & Audio), USMAI (Print only)
Review Submitted by: Shane D. Hall
Rating: Highly Recommended
Challenge: Published in 2017