Franken’s antics prove disturbing

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, December 22, 2009

While many see Washington as a joke – and in some casesrightfully so – an event Thursday evening in the Senate chambers isdisturbing in these truly unsettling times.

As originally designed by the writers of our Constitution, thetwo chambers of government in Washington were designed to reflectthe personality of the nation.

A certain decorum and civility was and is expected by members ofboth the House of Representatives and the Senate. By its nature theSenate tends to be more formal than the House, with the Senatebeing more of a reflective body while the House more animated.

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That certain decorum and civility is designed to allow thesenators to set aside differences of opinion on issues to allowthoughtful and insightful debate – regardless of political partyaffiliation.

Thursday evening, with tensions continuing to rise over thehealth care debate and its pending Christmas deadline, an eventhappened that signaled a break from that decorum and civility.

Sen. Joe Lieberman is an independent from Connecticut who alignshimself with the Democratic Party, but he is currently the sourceof much frustration within the party over his outspoken displeasurewith the Obama Administration’s massive health care initiative. Thesenator’s opposition may be the vote that derails the passage ofthe historic measure before Christmas.

As the Connecticut senator was winding down his allotted 10minutes of comments on the Senate floor, he requested an additionalminute to conclude his comments – a routine request that is alwaysallowed as part of the decorum and civility of the Senate.

In this instance his request was denied.

Presiding over the Senate Thursday evening was freshman Sen. AlFranken, a liberal Democrat from Minnesota. Franken is better knownfor his raunchy comic behavior as a comedian on “Saturday NightLive” in years past.

Said Franken in response to Lieberman’s request, “No, in mycapacity as the senator from Minnesota, I object.” And he crackedthe gavel to dismiss Lieberman, a former Democratic vicepresidential candidate.

“Really,” said a surprised Lieberman. “OK,” he said, and satdown.

Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and his party’s 2008presidential candidate, rose to defend his friend and colleague,saying he had never seen such a thing occur in his 23 years in theSenate.

“I must say that I don’t know what’s happening here in thisbody, but I think it’s wrong,” said an obviously shaken McCain fromthe chamber floor.

Video clips show Franken with a smirk such as his characterStuart Smalley often had on “Saturday Night Live.”

We are in serious and disturbing times in this country in whichthe lives of every single American are being affected by politicaldecisions being made by individuals elected to work for the bestinterest of the rest of us.

Franken owes his fellow senators an apology, as well as theAmerican people an apology. Nothing going on with the health caredebate is a joking matter.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602, orsend e-mail to