The long ordeal of Minnesota’s Senate race came to a close today when the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected Republican Norm Coleman’s legal challenges, ending the state legal battle. Rather than bringing the fight to federal court, Coleman conceded, and with the end of litigation, Democrat Al Franken, former comedian, talk show host and SNL writer, became a US Senator. The victory takes on more national significance because, after Arlen Specter’s defection from the GOP, it hands the Democrats a 60-vote filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate.
The Democrats, other than the numerical advantage he gives them, shouldn’t be too prideful of his victory. Franken has tried to stay low-key and cordial, no doubt at the urgent advice of his handlers and the DNC. Unfortunately, I have little doubt that eventually, the momentary calmness will be replaced by a flare-up of Franken’s temper punctuated with ill-advised attempts at humor on the Senate floor. For a man whose previous qualifying experience was hosting a failed liberal talk show and writing lame jokes on Saturday Night Live, he has little else to fall back on. I hope Franken proves me wrong and turns out to be a judicious legislator, but nothing in his background, his statements, his jokes, or his shtick leads me to any conclusion other than that he’ll wind up as a national embarassment. Mark my words, Franken’s going to have either an cringe-inducing blow-up or deliver repeated injections of lame comedy during Senate arguments. Either way, 42% of Minnesotans voted for him, which in this case was enough to propel him to the national stage.
But more important than Franken’s personality is the unmitigated power of the Democrats to ram through whatever legislative item they see fit. At no time when the Republicans were in control of the House or the Senate did they have such an advantage, and as the Democrats have yet to even consult with their opponents on major and historic pieces of legislation, I have no doubt the rampant partisanship will only increase given that any liberal agenda piece is now virtually guaranteed passage and signage into law.
Some might get warm feelings over an unobstructed Democrat agenda, but remember this: the Democrats have no excuses, no scapegoats to fall back on when their policies inevitably fail. With no consultation and limited courtship of Republicans, their measures have passed with basically non-existant GOP support. It’s all on them, and, from my point of view, their measures thus far have not come from a desire to govern from the center and spur economic growth, but merely to fulfill liberal agenda wish list items and reward long-time allies. Again, some may be excited about that, but when the results of out-of-control spending (stimulus) and harmful economic policies (cap-and-trade) come home to roost, voters will rapidly come to the conclusion that they’ve given the Democrats too much power.
Sadly, by that time the damage will already have been done, as legislation, bureaucracy, and entitlement is far easier to create than to destroy. Congratulations on your supermajority, Dems. I’d urge you to use it responsibly, but I fear I’d just be wasting my time.