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Francis Wilkinson: Franken's book takes on new tone amid allegations

Francis Wilkinson, Bloomberg View on

Published in News & Features

There is also the matter of Franken's wife, Franni. He met her his first week at Harvard University, and they've pretty much been together since. While his "SNL" compatriots went wild with sex and drugs, Franken said he tempered the latter with a monogamous dose of the former. He credited Franni with saving his 2008 campaign when she appeared in a 30-second TV ad explaining how her husband had stood by her through the throes of alcoholism.

The domestic story seems a little shakier now, while my own wife's remark, uttered lackadaisically somewhere around Shawnee, Okla., that Franken spoke suspiciously much about his spouse, seems more ominous.

Franken understands that his public office is not a trifle. In the Senate, he wrote, he waged a valiant campaign to strangle his jokes lest they strangle him.

"I could be funny in the office, but only with members of staff, not in meetings with visitors," he wrote. "It was also okay to be funny on the floor with my colleagues, as long as I wasn't loud enough to be picked up by the C-SPAN microphones. And, for God's sake, no physical humor!"

"Physical humor" is among the phrases in the book that produce a different effect now, as if a role written for Buster Keaton was inexplicably given to Peter Lorre.

Another unforeseen transition is the subject of the book's conclusion. Franken turns his attention to a president who was once casually unthinkable, then suddenly undeniable. The author speaks of rallying resistance, and laying the groundwork for a better day. It's one of many signals that Franken intends to be a factor in the nation's future. But Franken is realistic enough to acknowledge the obstacles. "This is going to suck for a while," he wrote.

That line holds up pretty well.


About The Writer

Francis Wilkinson writes editorials on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg View. He was previously a national affairs writer for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist. Readers may email him at

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