Buy This Book!

I think I may be in love with Al Franken. In fact, I think he’d be a great President! (Of course, next to the one we have, my cat would be a great President–and I don’t have a cat. Still…)

I just finished reading Al Franken: Giant of the Senate. I recommend it highly–and not only for its humor. (But the humor is great.)

The book tells the story of Franken’s improbable voyage from Saturday Night Live (and other venues for less than decorous humor) to the U.S. Senate, and it is more informative than most textbooks if you want to learn about the political process, the operation of the United States Senate, the day to day job description of a Senator, and the pros and cons of a variety of thorny political issues.

As the flyleaf says, “it’s a book about what happens when the nation’s foremost progressive satirist gets a chance to serve in the United States Senate and, defying the expectations of the pundit class, actually turns out to be good at it.” It’s also “a book about our deeply polarized, frequently depressing, occasionally inspiring political culture, written from inside the belly of the beast.”

The book is a testament to democratic decision-making and public service, written by a mensch. (Google it.) Franken’s self-deprecating storytelling, his willingness to credit his staff and his family and even his constituents for his accomplishments, is particularly refreshing at a time when America’s Commander-in-Chief insists on taking personal credit for any event that is even remotely positive, whether he had anything to do with it or not. (Any day now, I fully expect him to take credit for the sun rising in the morning.)

If the real Al Franken is the same person who comes across in this book, he’s a great guy–down to earth, level-headed, self-aware–with a great sense of humor. (Genuine humor, when you think about it, requires a sense of proportion and an appreciation of reality.) Evidently, you can speak truth to power without being an asshole; you can be a committed progressive and still get along with equally committed conservatives; and you can take seriously your obligation to represent the people who live in your state without being a sanctimonious prig.

You can also learn how to be an effective “insider” without getting co-opted by “the system.”

The best thing about this book? It restored my faith in the possibilities of democracy. (Note the word “possibilities.”) Given Franken’s candid reporting on the current state of our nation, democracy is far from being realized, but it does remain a (tantalizing) possibility.

Buy the damn book.


  1. Okay. I love to receive book recommendations from thoughtful people. In fact, I think it would do people a lot of good to write book reports from time to time.

  2. OK, OK, OK; I just ordered the book from Amazon!

    I always look forward to Senator Franken’s questioning at the hearings; direct, to the point and demands direct, to the point answers…with rarely come. Never saw him as a comedian; only aware of him during his campaign and the struggle for his Senate seat. He was and is so much more qualified than Republican counterparts.

    The fact that he could restore your faith in the “possibilities” of democracy was the selling point for me. At this point in time of our current administration;”possibilities” make for a strong point. Not only to buy the book but a glimmer of hope in the dark days ahead. His genuine sense of humor allows him to see himself for who he is and gives him an awareness of the attempts by the system to co-opt him by remaining outside the system…and viewing it with the same “jaundiced eye” Sheila uses to view “the world we live in”.

  3. Oops; please excuse the poor editing. That should say “which” rarely come regarding the answers he seeks.

  4. It sounds like a good book just for the thought of reading something about our political governing system that includes some humor woven in.

  5. Thanks Sheila. I’m a big fan of his for a lot of reasons and had thought about buying it. He’s been making the political talk show rounds, mostly MSNBC, I think, rounds hawking it in a very low key but funny way while discussing the disaster we have in the WH. Thanks for clinching the deal!

  6. I’ll buy it. Love Al. He’s the real deal. We’re lucky to have such an intelligent guy working on our side.

  7. Great idea! Al Franken for President. Yes, he has always had a fantastic sense of humor, and has always shown he’s unafraid to poke fun at himself … which certainly does not fit into the modus operandi of Fake President Trump.

    There was once a Republican young man who switched to being a Democrat after hearing John F. Kennedy’s command of witty monolog and dialog. That would be me. Or I. Obama displayed much of the same talent that Kennedy had.

    If Franken can persuade a few Christians to wake up and smell the roses, he’ll be the man to beat.

  8. On the considerable strength of your recommendation, I just bought it. Can’t wait to dig into it!

  9. Al Franken IS very impressive in the few interviews in which he’ appeared. Regrettably I’ve never told him so, but will go so today and send him a link to this blog. Working in Washington today must feel like slogging through knee high mud. We all need encouragement during tough times. I encourage readers to email him a note of appreciation via his website at

  10. I LOVED this book!!!! I was really down the other day over the loss in GA-6. I listened to the last two chapters of this book on my drive to see family and it really helped.

  11. Its going to take somewhere between decades and ever to clean up American politics from the current stench from DC. Every standard has been eliminated and every bar lowered. It’s a barroom fight now without rules.

    To rise and stay above that is a remarkable accomplishment.

  12. I agree that Al Franken’s book is a great read. I am currently listening to it on Audible Books and believe the experience is better for listening to him read it. You can hear the sincerity and compassion in his voice.

  13. Interesting timing of your post intersecting with the appearance of Mayor Pete Buttitieg (sp?) of South Bend on Late Night with Seth Myers Thursday night. Just as “Mayor Pete” is such an incredible asset for governance in general, and for Indiana, specifically, Al Franken’s book sounds as if it’s cut from the same cloth. Having tuned in to some of the special Congressional hearings in which Senator Franken has been involved, I have been heartened by his quest for truth and accountability. Perhaps these two figures are a signal of possibility and a turn forward to true governance without divisiveness in our country’s political future.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I will be adding it to my summer reading list. And if there’s any opportunity to bring “Mayor Pete” to Indy to speak, I would certainly queue up for a ticket. Better yet, I would love to see him run for Governor of Indiana!

  14. What Pete said – but this brawl is not over by a long shot. Democracy is injured but not dead. I think people are finally waking up to the fact that without democracy and the social cohesion democracy makes thrive there is no good reason to even have a country since we owe no loyalty to an ATM machine.

  15. “Ridicule is the most powerful weapon against tyrants. A TYRANT RIDICULED IS NO LONGER TYRANT…”

    Larry; you are so right, the Emperor is naked and more along his parade route are pointing it out.

  16. I met Al Franken when I volunteered for Tarryl Clark’s campaign when she ran against Michele Bachmann in 2010. Several months later at a rally, he greeted me as he passed through the crowd waiting to hear Bill Clinton speak. I was stunned when he then referenced our conversation from our first meeting. The trifecta of intelligence, empathy, and humor makes him an ideal politician, but what impresses me most is his relationship with his wife. Having witnessed their interaction on several occasions and having heard both of them speak of Franny’s battle with alcoholism, it’s plain to see that this man genuinely cares about people. Although I believe he’d make an outstanding president, I’d hate to lose him as my senator.

  17. My daughter, bless her heart, bought me Giant of the Senate for Father’s Day. I am almost finished, and I am enjoying a witty and informative description of his life and work. When he discusses a policy issue, he is short and clear, and usually brings home the point with either humor or a touching personal story from his constituents. My other daughter, bless her heart, bought me Franken’s other book, Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them years ago. That book was also both scary and enjoyable. What was notable about that book is how thoroughly Franken and his team of Havard government students researched it and provided great footnotes to show this was not just “libtard” fake news.

  18. The Senator may be a very funny guy, but he was a giant pain in my rear end for three years, due to some ill-conceived legislation Every “confidential briefing” was posted on the internet the very next day. Thanks, Al.

  19. Al Franken doesn’t support HR676. Why do so called “thoughtful” Democrats hate the idea of affordable and accessible healthcare for all Americans?

    Trump doesn’t believe in MediCare for all as well. Trump and Franken have something in common.

  20. It’s obvious now to most people that America doesn’t have a health insurance problem, we have a health care cost problem made worse by Republicans who want to use that to redistribute wealth.

    Medicare for all is a bandaid on a life threatening wound.

    Medicare works because most people pay their entire lives for the half of their health care costs that occur over age 65+. If we add to that the cost of the other half many people will have to give it up which is the Republican point. They believe that health care is an entitlement of wealth.

    Virtually every other country in the world has solved this problem. Anyone who believes adding another bandaid on top of the previous one is missing the point.

    We need healthcare for all not healthcare insurance only for those who really don’t even need insurance.

  21. Again – What Pete said. This piece of trash McConnell has the brazen effrontery to call a healthcare bill has little to do with healthcare and a lot to do with another giant tax cut for the rich and corporate class reminiscent of Bush’s tax cut in the middle of the war with Iraq; the first and I hope the last time any president has ever cut taxes during wartime and financed the war on a credit card, leaving the huge deficits to Obama. It’s as though these Republicans past and present are oblivious to the impact of their policies on ordinary Americans, people who are ostensibly represented by them but when you follow the money to see who it is they really represent it invariably ends up at an address in New York City – Wall Street.

  22. How many countries that have single payer insurance have dropped it and gone back to the old system? I’m guessing zero.

Comments are closed.