Brief of the Week July 13, 2009

WHAT NEXT AFTER FRANKEN? Discussing the heroism of Iranians in showing their outrage over an election that might very well have been fraudulent, one Republican senator remarked last week, “I wish people were that heroic in Minnesota.” He was referring, of course, to the seating of Democrat Al Franken in the Senate after a nearly eight-month legal war in which the state Supreme Court finally upheld the comedian’s lead of 312 votes out of more than 2.9 million cast. Sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden, Franken was promptly assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he seems likely to play a role in the confirmation battle for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. With the seating of Franken, Democrats achieve the “magic 60” votes in the Senate required to shut down filibusters — sort of. The serious illnesses of Democratic Senators Edward Kennedy (Mass.) and Robert Byrd (W.Va.) have kept both lawmakers out of the Senate, meaning that President Obama can be certain of only 58 votes if a filibuster arises. In remarking about his sadness that former Republican colleague Norm Coleman won’t be back, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.-Okla.) remarked earlier that “It looks as though we’re gong to get a clown from Minnesota instead.” Asked by HUMAN EVENTS if newly minted colleague Franken had responded to his remark, Inhofe replied: “I ran into him on the day he was sworn in. He just laughed.”