Broder being Broder

BRODER BEING BRODER…. If I had a dollar for every time David Broder has spoken up to defend the virtues of “bipartisanship,” I could retire a wealthy man. And sure enough, Broder’s latest column is devoted to encouraging the Obama White House to “enlist Republican support” for the administration’s agenda.

Imagine that.

As part of his case, however, Broder takes note of the newest member of the Senate.

[Al] Franken, the loud-mouthed former comedian, will be the 60th member of the Senate Democratic caucus — just enough for them to cut off any filibuster threat if they can muster all their members.

There’s been a lot of conservative and establishment criticism of Sen.-Elect Franken this week, so I guess it’s to be expected that Broder would use derisive language and dismiss him as a “loud-mouthed former comedian.” That said, Paul Krugman’s response is well worth reading.

First, implicit in this characterization of Franken is the notion of the Senate as a decorous gentlemen’s club. I doubt that club ever existed in reality; but in any case, these days the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body is, not to put too fine a point on it, chock full o’ nuts. James Inhofe: I rest my case.

Second, Al Franken’s dirty secret is that … he’s a big policy wonk.

I used to go on Franken’s radio show, all ready to be jocular — and what he wanted to talk about was the arithmetic of Social Security, or the structure of Medicare Part D…. [W]hat will Franken do to the level of Senate discourse? He’ll raise it.

And Broder appreciates officials who raise the level of discourse in American politics, right?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.