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Mike McFeely, Published March 08 2009

McFeely: Franken, Coleman relegated to dustbin

What if two men were fighting for a seat in the U.S. Senate and nobody cared?

Anybody remember this story? Anybody at all? Hello?

Welcome to Minnesota, where Depublican Norm Franken and Remocrat Al Coleman – the names and parties no longer matter – are spending millions on lawyers in a desperate attempt to avoid having to work for a living.

The latest news came Friday, when the state Supreme Court blocked Al Franken’s attempt (that’s the Democrat’s name) to gain the seat by one backhanded means or another. Like similar backhanded maneuvers by his Republican opponent, Norm Coleman, it did not work.

This means the seat will remain empty until the current lawsuit being heard by a three-judge panel is settled, appeals are exhausted and lawyers make millions more. There is a solid argument that the seat will remain empty even when one of these guys sits down in it.

Is there anybody left who cares how this turns out?

Seriously. Other than a couple of newspaper and wire-service editors, who are only showing interest because it is their job (which might not exist in another month), the world tuned out these gentlemen before the Christmas shopping season started.

“American Idol,” anyone?

The problem started before Election Day, when each candidate spent enough money to make Bernie Madoff sheepish in order to tell the world that the other guy preferred to eat babies for a midnight snack. And then things got nasty.

It continued at the polls, where Minnesotans learned, when they reached the Senate candidates, the art of filling in a ballot with one hand while plugging their nose with the other.

Then Norm declared victory, Al said not so fast and the whole thing devolved into a phalanx of lawsuits, lawyers and lugubriousness (definition: a sad or mournful situation, in an exaggerated way and the only word beginning in “l” that I could find to complete the sentence using alliteration).

Democracy in action became democracy inaction.

Yes, these are the rules and this is the way things work. But these guys have inundated the state with such a volume of minutiae that an election held today might reveal a majority of Minnesotans prefer Brad Childress over Coleman and Franken.

That presents the next problem for the candidates. If things stay the way they appear to be going, and Coleman loses, his political future will be as bleak as a 401(k) statement. He’ll be the loser who dragged us through this never-ending mess.

Will things be any better for Franken? He’ll win the seat, but how much of his already questionable popularity will remain? There is already a lesser-of-two-evils quality about him.

What we have here is two unlikable fellows locked in an unpopular fight that has reached the point of stultifying tedium.

Maybe Minnesota should auction off the seat, Blagojevich-style, to the highest bidder. Money goes to pay down the state deficit.

Dirty as a porn film, for sure, but at least it would be more interesting than this democracy stuff.


Forum columnist Mike McFeely can be heard from 1-2 p.m. Monday through Friday on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5580 or mmcfeely@forumcomm.com. McFeely’s blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/mcfeely