Last night, I went to a book signing for Senator Al Franken’s new book Senator Al Franken – Giant of the Senate. It was sponsored by Magers and Quinn, a super independent book seller, and hosted by Uptown Church, which is an intimate sacred space with beautiful stained glass windows.
The weather last evening was hot and humid. Anyone who knows me knows that I was designed and built for cold weather. I sweat like a foundry worker when watching other people work. By the time Al was done, so was I.
It was well worth it. Al’s new book was part of the ticket price, thus now I’m reading about his experiences growing up, writing for Saturday Night Live, inhaling and enjoying it, meeting and marrying his wife Franni, being elected to the Senate, and now serving in Congress. Along the way, good friends struggled with addiction and some died. There are plenty of things that I didn’t know about Senator Franken or his wife Franni. They are genuine people who have had hard times and know what ordinary people go through.
As I settled into my pew I looked around and this is what I saw.
This morning, over coffee at the Patisserie, I cracked open SAF-GOTS. I typically don’t laugh when reading something funny but this morning people around me kept looking at me strangely. I was chortling snorting (almost gave myself a coffee nasal lavage) and simply laughing my ass off. More importantly, besides being funny, there are numerous insights into how the Senate works and the personalities of the Senators, including Al.
For about an hour, Al sat on a raised stage and was interviewed by MPR’s Gary Eichten. He then took questions. Needless to say, the questions mostly centered on President WTF. Al made it clear that things are baaaaaaad. BUT, citizens are coming out of the woodwork to resist the insanity. He confided that it will get worse before it gets better. Ultimately, he has faith in the American people to sort it out. He did admit that this faith has been tested repeatedly.
Al briefly mentioned how close his race for the Senate was, winning by only 325 votes, and how that impressed on him that he served all the people of Minnesota, which is what he has been doing since. He reassured everyone that his opponent, Norm Coleman, had bounced back and was OK. He is now serving the people of Minnesota as a lobbyist for the Saudi’s.
Al went to Congress knowing that he needed to maintain a serious demeanor and sideline the humor. When he won his second term he began relaxing and easing in humor when talking with his fellow Senators.
He also mentioned that the Republicans have spent $15 million on an Israeli machine called a Dehumorizer which they first used during his election and have continued ever since. He pointed out that humor is in short supply for most Republicans but not for all.
In the end, I walked into the still simmering night, wringing wet with sweat, and more optimistic than when I was when I came.
Did I get the Senator to sign my book? Nope. There was a line of about 50 people waiting to see him. I preferred going outside. Besides, I’ve been more active in the political scene since I began resisting and I’m fairly certain that I’ll have another opportunity. Perhaps there will be time enough to chat? A wonk can dream.
Update on Washington: Things will continue to get worse for a while. However there is grave concern about President Attention-of-a-Squirrel among a growing number of Republican Senators who have privately expressed themselves to Al.
Tips for Living with Trumpenstien
- Limit consumption of news or read the news rather than watching it on the screen. That way you leave the hysteria outside your head.
- Remember that most Breaking News isn’t.
- After watching the news, lift your spirits by watching a WWI documentary. See? It isn’t that bad. Or is it?
- Remember to breathe.
- Maintain a sense of humor and eat lots of greens.
- Get involved! Relieve stress by doing something about what is stressing you out.
- Get outside for some fresh air and mild exercise; join in a march, protest, or picketing.
- Let your Congress people know where you stand and demand action. Also, thank them when they do something right.
- Spend time with someone who supports President Yellow-Rain, don’t call him that while you practice civility. Look for common ground to share; grandchildren, cats, dogs, Rocky Horror Picture Show, whatever. Build trust between the two of you before wading into the substantive stuff. Actively listen and ask questions.
- Remember that the person on the opposite side is a warm-blooded Homo sapiens with many of the same dreams and problems we have. They aren’t stupid, deranged or evil. Well, except for President Dementia and the boot licks surrounding him.
- Read The Religious Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Religion and Politics by Jonathan Haidt.