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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Al Franken: Another Celebrity Politician?

    Politics is an old trend that seems to have gained tremendous popularity within the past decade in the world of famous Hollywood celebrities who, after achieving fame, wealth, and success, turn to the unconquered arena of politics. The trend began with Ronald Reagan, and continues till today with names like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura added to the list of celebrity-turned-politicians.

    Now, another famous entity, familiar to all of us, Al Franken,’ as a comedian, political satirist, and actor, is striving to enter this very field. He performed in the TV show Saturday Night Live and wrote several books, including ‘Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot’ and ‘Other Observations and Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right,’ which reveal his leftist political affiliation. Al Franken has recently decided to run for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota in the 2008.

    The state of Minnesota has prior experience with a celebrity-turned-politician, when they elected ex-professional wrestler, Jesse Ventura, as their governor. Ventura‘s initial success and election victory was mostly made possible by the population of young voters’ who supported him almost entirely due to his past professional wrestling career. These same star struck youth later encountered hostility and antagonism courtesy of their Governor, who refused to provide more funds for education because in his opinion ‘if you’re smart enough to go to college you should be smart and creative enough to pay for it.’

    It would be a mistake to repeat what happened in the past by electing celebrities like Al Franken into the Senate. One of the most important assets of a successful politician is his experience in that particular field. When Franken’s experiences are evaluated, he falls short of all the necessary elements needed in a politician’s resume. Being a political satirist, criticizing the current Republican administration’s flaws, and hosting a program on Air America Radio is certainly not sufficient experience for a candidate running for U.S. Senate.

    One needs to have served on local legislatures and other government bodies before running for Senate. Past great politicians in this nation’s history have been men of many talents and exemplars of intellectualism. Today, celebrity politicians are far from intellectual. Granted that, Franken has an exceptional educational record. But he is nevertheless, lacking in the experience needed to do a senator’s job, posing relentless challenges and requiring serious decision-making skills.

    Although celebrities have been surprisingly victorious in the past in attaining political positions, Franken’s chances look grim. His decision to run for Senate has been met with a mixed response but the immense criticism cannot be ignored. Firstly, Franken was born and has lived in New York for most of his latter life; he only grew up in Minneapolis. This raises the question of whether he is fit to be a senator for a state he hasn’t lived in for a long time.

    Of course, this issue can be disregarded since Hillary Clinton became the senator of our very own state without ever having lived here. Slightly discomforting, isn’t it? Secondly, Franken’s books have been known to contain statements which are less than credible. Statements such as, ‘Saddam’s regime and al Qaeda weren’t working together at all’ and ‘Clinton put the government on high alert and stopped a deadly attack. Bush did nothing,’ are just some of many that have incited harsh responses and inflamed arguments from the public.

    Those who support him are people who are ignorant of the importance of their vote and are only looking for some fun and humor during the campaign season.

    Franken’s political views are a little vague. It is commonly known that he is a leftist but other than that there are no details about his standpoint on different issues. Basically, he supports gun control laws, abortion rights, same sex marriage, and environmental protection. Vague, but that’s all there is to it. I guess we will have to wait and see when the campaigning begins.

    Celebrity politicians have always won the support of the younger age group because of their glamorous personas. Once elected into office, those same celebrities don’t live up to our expectations. I say it’s time to stop this cycle and focus on the political views, campaign issues, and the credibility of our celebrity politicians.

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