Franken holds court

FRANKEN HOLDS COURT…. This clip of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was making the rounds yesterday, and it’s well worth watching. According to the person who posted the video, Franken was “staked out” by Tea Party activists at what looks like the state fair “and confronted him loudly when he arrived.”

What’s impressive about the 10-minute clip was the quality of the discussion about health care reform, and the fluency with which Franken addresses policy details. Most, but not all, of those pressing Franken on the issue were opposed to reform, and chances are, Franken probably wasn’t able to change their minds. But notice how the senator guides the discussion, lowers the temperature, and deals with complex issues in a way non-wonks can understand.

No one screamed; no one compared reform advocates to Nazis; no one threatened anyone else. We’re setting the bar a little low, but Franken’s exchanges with his constituents was a good example of how political discourse is supposed to work.

But one other angle occurred to me while watching this: maybe Franken could take a higher profile among Democratic lawmakers?

In general, freshmen senators are supposed to keep a low profile for a long while (“neither seen nor heard” comes to mind), and Franken has been in office for a grand total of a few months. But if the goal is to present articulate, knowledgeable voices to the public to promote progressive ideas, Franken, as this video helps demonstrate, is better than most.