Sunday, October 05, 2008

Underplayed Senate race of the century

According to Nate Silver, there's about a 20% chance of the Democrats winning a 60-seat majority in the Senate. If that happens, The Leader, Comrade Reid and Fraulein Pelosi will finally have unchecked power over their piddling adversaries. But in order for it to happen, a relatively innocuous Republican incumbent is going to have to lose to Al Franken.

There are a lot of ways to think about an Al Franken Senate run that make it seem funny. One is when you think of him in the Coke-bottle glasses and the pastel sweaters of Stuart Smalley, whose "Daily Affirmations" were one of the more famous SNL schticks of all time and, weirdly, were even turned into a feature film in 1995.

Then there's his later career as an Air America radio host and author of such books as "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" and "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

The premise that the United States is fundamentally a center-right country was damaged badly in the 2006 elections. If Al Franken gets elected to the U.S. Senate in a state John Kerry barely won, it's all over.

I was pessimistic that it was going to happen, especially when he was getting hammered on the back-taxes issue, and there are polls that still have him behind, but now at least one poll has him up comfortably. The CW is that Coleman's priggish attack ads focusing on Franken's naughty language have backfired, on top of the economic crisis that's helping Obama and all downticket Dems.

It just goes to show how big a story the presidential race is that the national media hasn't been following this one more closely. I haven't seen one lousy "Is he good enough? Smart enough? And do people like him?" headline yet.

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