by Al Franken
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
This book marks Franken's transition from a political humorist to a humorous politician. In other words, his earlier works, most recently Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them in 2004, focused primarily on sarcasm and punch-lines about President Bush and his allies--while this newer work crosses the line into serious policy. With this book's publication in 2006, which might be viewed as a more serious sequel to "Lying Liars", Franken began seriously running for the Senate (which he won in 2009), rather than just parodying the Senate.
As its title suggests, this book still has plenty of punch-lines. In fact, that is one of its weaknesses--the reader must remain alert as to which anecdotes are the Jokes, and which are the Truth. That gets harder with each passing year--if one had read this book in 2006, one would have made the distinction readily, but reading it in 2013 makes the distinction more challenging. (If you read our excerpts and determine that we reported a punch-line as an actual opinion, please write us, and we'll apologize and edit it, but we won't be too surprised!).
Franken's book focuses on the 2004 presidential election; he is especially against the Iraq War (two chapters) and especially defensive against John Kerry's Swift Boat attacks (another two chapters). Other chapters focus on Terry Schiavo, gay rights, Senator Zell Miller (D, GA), Social Security, and other topics relevant to the 2004 election.
But Franken's passion is debunking the falsehoods surrounding the Iraq War, or as Franken would put it, telling the truth about the lies and the lying liars who tell them. While jokes about war zones might push the bounds of "gallows humor," Franken points out repeatedly his U.S.O. experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan; i.e., Franken does the same in actual war zones. Franken also defends his own Vietnam record: he avoided the war, and protested against the war for everyone else (p. 97); i.e., he avoided Bush's hypocrisy and hence can criticize it honestly.
Here's a sample of Franken's passion on the topic of Iraq;. This passage exemplifies his attitude towards the Bush administration and its concepts permeate the rest of the book (except with more jokes than here):
The Defense Science Board report, a formal report from an advisory board to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, was delivered in September 2004; I think the report is worth quoting at some length: "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states. Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy." Muslims aren't crazy to think that the conduct of the global war on terror has devolved into a self-serving political exercise. You can't trust Cheney and Rumsfeld to give you straight information. You can't trust them not to believe their own propaganda. You can't trust them. Period.
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, Dec. 2013
| OnTheIssues.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
Tom Coburn: I favor the death penalty for abortionists.
Anthony Kennedy: International opinion opposes juvenile death penalty.
Al Gore: Proposed tsunami warning system prior to 2004 tsunami.
Al Franken: Root cause of many problems is no access to healthcare.
Al Franken: Terror alerts are politicized; purpose is to scare people.
Al Franken: 9/11 Commission says Bush failed to prevent 9/11.
Al Franken: War on Terror failing: number of terrorist attacks has risen.
Al Gore: Pre-9/11 warnings were as strong as Millennium threats.
Colin Powell: Pottery Barn Rule about Iraq: you break it, you own it.
Colin Powell: 2004: Stopped reporting number of terrorist attacks.
Condoleezza Rice: Speech scheduled for 9/11/01 focused on missile defense.
Dick Cheney: 2004: Wrong choice for president & we'll get hit again.
George W. Bush: A president must not shift in the wind.
George W. Bush: OpEd: Clinton told Bush that biggest threat was al Qaeda.
Harry S Truman: 1941: War profiteering is treason.
Henry Waxman: 2004: discovered $108M Halliburton overcharges in Kuwait.
Rush Limbaugh: Nobody got physically injured in Abu Ghraib scandal.
Tom Ridge: OpEd: Ignored FOIA request from AP until he left office.
Principles & Values|
Heritage Foundation: 1980: Conservatism converted from intellectual to active.
John Kerry: OpEd: Swift Boat mess caused by media reporting accusations.
Al Franken: Social Security was the greatest achievement of the New Deal.
Al Franken: Raise the cap on income subject to the payroll tax.
Cato Institute: Changed term "privatization" to "choice" in 2002.
Dwight Eisenhower: 1954: anyone attempting to abolish Social Security is stupid.
George W. Bush: Overhaul Social Security because it's unfair to black people.
Heritage Foundation: Minorities realize dismal return from Social Security.
Al Franken: Gift of living in America comes with responsibilities.
Al Franken: Mainstream media reports accusations as if they were news.
War & Peace|
Al Franken: We build barriers in Iraq, but should rebuild infrastructure.
Al Franken: Muslims hate our policies; they don't hate our freedom.
Colin Powell: 1991: Leave Saddam enough power to threaten Iran.
Dick Cheney: 2001: Success in Iraq would be a blow to 9/11 terrorists.
Donald Rumsfeld: 1983: friendly talks with Saddam during his war with Iran.
George Bush Sr.: Sold Saddam precursors for chemical weapons before Kuwait.
George W. Bush: 2002: Keep the peace by authorizing use of force in Iraq.
Ronald Reagan: 1983: sold Saddam precursors for chemical weapons.
Rudy Giuliani: OpEd: Gave false impression that Iraq was involved in 9/11.
Welfare & Poverty|
Al Franken: The economy--and its effect on poverty--are moral issues.
The above quotations are from The Truth
by Al Franken.
- The Case for Polarized Politics, by Senate candidate Jeff Bell (R, NJ)
- Born To Fly, by Senate candidate Shane Osborn (R, NE)
- The Debt Bomb, by Senator Tom Coburn (R, OK)
- A Fighting Chance, by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, MA)
- Winning Right, by Senate candidate Ed Gillespie (R,VA)
- Planned Bullyhood, by Senate candidate Karen Handel (R,GA)
- The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Senator Rand Paul (R,KY)
- Governor`s Travels, by Senator Angus King (I,ME)
- This Is Not Florida, biography of Senator Al Franken (D,MN)
- The Truth (with jokes), by Sen. Al Franken (D, MN)
- Planned Bullyhood, by Senate candidate Karen Handel (R, GA)
- Republican Leader, biography of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R, KY)
- The Man Behind The Mask, by Senate candidate Andy Martin (R, NH)
- In the Company of Men, by Senate candidate Nancy Mace (R, SC)
- Be the Change!, by Senate candidate Michelle Nunn (D, GA)
- The Greatest Hoax, by Sen. James Inhofe (R, OK)
- Unite and Conquer, by Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D, AZ)