So, Senator, will you agree to debate your opponent during the campaign?
Hey, let me tell you about this sweet corn. It is so delicious that you can't eat just one ear. So sweet and tasty that I eat them by the dozen. And since I still have to run out the clock until election day, let's switch gears to ponder on the issue of chocolate chip cookies. You can buy them by the bucket and float them in bottomless glasses of ice cold milk...
If you think the preceding sounds like a comedy routine about a politician who wants to avoid the issues by filibustering on trivial subjects you would be correct. But what makes it really funny is that it is all too true in the case of Senator Al Franken running for re-election in Minnesota. Analyze his response to a question from Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal and you will see it closely matches the "comedy routine" posted above:
I caught up with Franken again the day after the Job Corps speech—at 6 a.m., as the gates opened at the Minnesota State Fair. I asked him how the campaign was going, but his campaign spokeswoman, Alexandra Fetissoff, changed the subject: "Fair questions are much more fun to ask!" So I asked the senator what fair foods he'd recommend, and a filibuster followed:
Here is Al's sweet corn filibuster/comedy act:
"You cannot not get the roast corn. Minnesota has the best sweet corn in the country, hands down, but this sweet corn—they actually have a dedicated kind of variety, a special, acres and acres of sweet corn, and it's so delicious that I've had hundreds of corn over my years here. And I never had an ear that wasn't unbelievable." Franken went on: "I like the walleye on a stick, it's much better than I ever thought. Do you like chocolate-chip cookies because they have a bucket of cookies with a bottomless glass of milk because the milk is really cold and really delicious."
Apparently this sweet corn filibuster is part of Franken's routine to dodge the press in order to run out the clock until election day. Kraushaar explains the Franken press dodge:
ST. PAUL, Minn.—I flew to Minnesota with high hopes of talking with Sen. Al Franken, and his staff said I'd get my chance during a "media availability" following a speech on the 50th anniversary of the Job Corps. But when I arrived at the Hubert H. Humphrey Job Corps Center, I discovered I was the only reporter there, and Franken's deputy communications director—one of three of his staffers working the event—said that the senator was in a rush. Could I walk and talk on the way out?
So as we walked through the gymnasium outside toward the campus's small parking lot, I asked Franken a perfunctory question about his work with job-training programs, and a minute later, as we approached his car, how he rated President Obama's handling of the economy. "I can't do that briefly, we have to run," Franken said.
Then he got in his car and left.
Since defeating Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in a nasty, down-to-a-recount race in 2008, Al Franken has made himself a stranger to the national press, dodging reporters in the halls of the Capitol and rarely granting interviews to national media outlets in an extended effort to prove he's a serious policymaker and not a spotlight-hogging celebrity. Now, as he faces his first reelection challenge, I wanted to see if things are any different back home. They're not.
As to agreeing to campaign debates:
The biggest confrontation of the campaign to date came at the 6 a.m. opening of the fair, when McFadden and Franken stood near each other, greeting early attendees at the main entrance. McFadden walked up to Franken, with local television cameras rolling, introduced himself, and challenged the senator to a series of six debates throughout the state. Franken demurred.
Perhaps they can get Franken to agree to debate if they limit it to important topics dear to his heart such as the virtues of sweet corn..