*But not really.
Michael Gerson is very worried about vulgarity in politics:
In 2006, after a long monologue about a dog and its vomit, Franken impersonated the deceased Sen. Strom Thurmond as saying: “Yeah, I screwed a woman who was vomiting once.” He once proposed a television sketch about a female CBS reporter being drugged and raped. He has suggested that his next book title might be “I F — — — Hate Those Right-Wing Motherf — — — !” At an event hosted by the Feminist Majority Foundation in 1999, Franken offered this thigh-slapper: “Why don’t we focus on what Afghan women can do? They can cook, bear children and pray. As I recall, that was fine for our grandmothers.”
Our popular culture, of course, violates even these expansive boundaries of tastelessness with regularity. We laugh at comedies featuring the C-word and at cartoons of foul-mouthed third-graders. In the cause of relevance and realism, our common life is already decorated with excrement. Why should political discourse be any different?
For at least one reason: Because vulgarity is often the opposite of civility.
Incidentally, I think “I F — — — Hate Those Right-Wing Motherf — — — !” would make for a great title. It makes its point quite artfully, and is much better than the title of Bill O’Reilly’s upcoming tome.
My favorite part is where he explains that when his friend is vulgar, it’s okay, but when RAPPERS do it, it’s loathsome. Not sure I understand why that is… maybe because his friend has a terminal degree? But a lot of rappers, apparently, have doctorates, so that can’t be it. Hmmm… what could it be?
Also, remember when Dick Cheney told a senator, on the floor of the Senate, to “fuck yourself“? Or when George Bush called a reporter “a major league asshole“? Weird how Gerson, former Bush speechwriter and policy advisor, doesn’t mention those incidents in his condemnation of Al Franken (who has, as of yet, never even been elected to any office that I know of).
What a load of (to pick a civil word) manure.
But let’s get back to Franken for a minute. Gerson takes great offense to Franken’s description of his work as “satire.” Because it uses naughty language, and stereotypes, and even sexual imagery. Well, yes, I think we can all agree that it does those things. But, last I checked, in pursuit of satire we aren’t limited to the scrabble dictionary and the Comics Code. Sometimes, offensive content and objectionable imagery is the most effective way of making a point. Let’s look at an example from Gerson’s op-ed:
At an event hosted by the Feminist Majority Foundation in 1999, Franken offered this thigh-slapper: “Why don’t we focus on what Afghan women can do? They can cook, bear children and pray. As I recall, that was fine for our grandmothers.”
Okay. So does anyone out there think that Franken, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal who loves taxes, abortions, and homosexuals, said those words sincerely? AT A FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION EVENT??? Of course not. This is, what’s the word, sarcasm. Franken is making a point–to limit women to these traditional roles is horrible, stupid, and maybe even terrorism! Okay, probably not really terrorism, but you can’t deny the Afghanistan connection. Better send in some troops, just to be safe.
Okay, where was I. Oh, right. Gerson is just being disingenuous. He knows Franken doesn’t seriously believe women should only cook, bear children, and pray. He knows Franken was joking. And, more generally, he knows that there’s nothing seriously objectionable about Franken’s humor–except that he is a liberal and is running for the Senate. This piece is deeply cynical, condescending, and just plain wrong.
For the record: I like Al Franken and think he would make a very good representative. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a few more politicians who are funny on purpose?