I'm trying very hard to keep from gloating inwardly about Al Franken's plight, since, from the last election right up to the present, he has always pointedly denied the evidence of fraud by the Republicans.
I was on his show on Air America just days after that election; and every time I noted yet another piece of evidence that it was stolen, he would reflexively dismiss it with some asinine banality or misconception. At one point, I mentioned a bizarre anomaly in Florida (one of many), where the number of votes for Bush exceeded the number of voters in that entire county.
"Oh, no," Franken said: "We looked into that," he said. "We talked to someone down there --a Democrat!" I asked him for some more specifics. Just then his producer texted him, and he read from his computer: "Oh, yeah, here it is. We talked to... the webmaster for the Secretary of State. And he said there was nothing to it."
That Secretary of State was Glenda Hood, whom Jeb Bush had appointed
to replace Katherine Harris.
When the Conyers Report was published the next year, with an introduction by Gore Vidal, the author was on "Real Time with Bill Maher" to talk about it--and Franken was on, too. As ever, he denied that there'd been any fraud committed in Ohio. "I think they won dirty," he said solemnly, denying all those crimes and improprieties precisely documented in the Conyers study (which he evidently hadn't read). He talked on and on in that vein, and
thereby managed to upstage Vidal, whose vital point was lost in all the blather.
Yesterday Randi Rhodes said, on her show, that Air America had discouraged her from talking much about the GOP's election fraud, and suggested that Al Franken had a hand in it.
This all matters greatly now--and not just because of yesterday's report that the e-voting machines in Minnesota have turned out to be defective (or "defective"). Maybe Franken will now face the facts about election fraud more realistically.
What matters most about his long refusal to discuss the problem is that it appears to have been urged upon him by the Democratic Party, or those in it who were counseling him as he prepared to run for office. When asked by regular people, as he often was (on his book tour), exactly why he always pooh-poohed the whole subject, he would say, "The people I listen to have told me there's nothing to it," or words to that effect.
This raises the larger question as to how, or if, the Democrats will now endeavor to reform our voting system. The chances are that they won't do an honest job unless we force them to it.
Franken says recount is needed
The Democrat's deficit is down to 337 votes in his Senate battle with Norm Coleman.
By PAUL WALSH, Star Tribune
Democrat Al Franken, locked in an overtime election battle with incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, said today that he is pushing ahead with the recount of Tuesday's voting.
"No, no," Franken said in an interview on Minnesota Public Radio late this morning, when asked whether he'll waive his right to a recount, as Coleman has urged him to do. "This is the closest Senate race in Minnesota history. This is just part of the process to make sure that every vote is counted fairly."
If the recount confirms that he has come up short, Franken said, "I'll be the first to congratulate Senator Coleman."
Meanwhile, the margin between Coleman and Franken narrowed slightly this morning.
The latest unofficial tally by the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office of Tuesday's vote now shows Coleman holding a 337-vote lead over Franken. That's down from the 477-vote gap at the end of the day Wednesday.
The Secretary of State's Office website has adjusted the vote totals several times since Tuesday night, most often tightening the gap.
The difference will continue to change slightly over the next week or two as counties go back and double-check their figures, the office has said.
As of 12:45 p.m. today, Coleman is credited with 1,211,527 votes (41.99 percent) to Franken's 1,211,189 (41.98 percent).
As to whether the pending recount of the nearly 3 million votes will give him victory, Franken said on MPR: "We don't know, but that's why we count the votes."
A recount is automatic when an election margin of victory is 0.5 percent or smaller, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said it will be several weeks before the process is finished and a winner is known.
The morning after the vote, Coleman urged Franken to waive his right to the recount to spare the state the expense (under $90,000) and in the spirit of bringing the two sides together following the particularly bitter campaign.
Paul Walsh * 612-673-4482