Senator Al Franken (D-MN) burnished his reputation as a comedian and made a bundle of money with his 1999 book, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, which The New York Times review called “dreadfully foul.” After he won win a Senate seat a year ago many hoped his manners would be nicer than his book.
So far not so much.
Franken was presiding over the Senate last Thursday when Senator Lieberman was giving a ten-minute speech on health care. Franken interrupted, saying Lieberman’s ten minutes were up. When Lieberman requested unanimous consent for “an additional moment” to finish his speech, Franken refused.
John McCain rose to say that he'd never in his twenty years in the Senate seen a senator denied an extra minute or two to finish his remarks. saying it. “I don’t know what’s happening here in this body, but I think it’s wrong. It harms the comity of the senate.”
Franken’s rude behavior was matched Sunday by Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) who blocked a similar request by Senator John Cornyn, (R-TX). When Cornyn protested, “I’m looking around — I don’t see any other senator waiting to speak,” Begich relented.
Franken isn’t the only guilty one, nor is all the rudeness Democratic—the Republicans have been giving about as good—or as bad—as they’ve been getting. But the bad behavior on both sides has already shattered the Senate’s reputation as the world’s greatest deliberative body, and is well on the way to ending its ability to do the people’s business.