Friday, July 10, 2009

The Gut Feeling

Visceral (vis-uh-rel)

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word has four meanings:

1. felt in or as if in the viscera
2. not intellectual
3. dealing with crude or elemental emotions
4. of, relating to, or on or among the viscera

Your viscera are your guts. When we talk of visceral reactions, we're not talking about reactions that are given a lot of thought. Fear and revulsion are visceral reactions.

Which brings us to Al Franken.

Earlier this week I wrote a post where I gently referred to the junior senator from Minnesota as "Senator Steaming Pile." Our friend Amanda, who performs regular acts of kindness by coming here to challenge our assumptions (and I am quite sincere in saying that, by the way), took notice of that and gave me a gentle dig about "taking the high road." But she did more than that. She also wrote a post on her always-interesting blog Memeopolis and she mentioned a couple of very useful things:

The reaction of conservative acquaintances and bloggers however, has been a vitriolic gnashing of the teeth and bloodthirsty name-calling. They HATE Al Franken. HATE. Hatehatehatehate. Instinctively, at first I felt slightly defensive. I mean, Al hasn't even done anything in office yet. Good or bad. Give him a chance to f*** up, yeah?

That's a fair point. Then she made a better, more provocative point.

But then I realized that their emotional reaction could be likened to my affection for Sarah Palin.

I'm guessing that I am one of the conservative acquaintances that Amanda mentioned in her post. Which got me thinking about Franken and why I feel the way I do.

Hate is a strong word and a strong emotion. It is also an emotion that is learned. I don't know if I hate Al Franken -- if were hurt in a traffic accident or somesuch and I came upon him, I'd whip out my cell, call 911 and then see if there was anything I could do to help him until the pros arrived. But I do dislike him quite a lot, probably more than just about any other politician on the current scene. And I will do everything in my power to ensure his retirement in 2015.

Why is that? Is it a visceral reaction, a gut feeling? Or is my disdain for Franken something that I learned? The answer is pretty clear: it is something I learned. The first time I saw Franken was on Saturday Night Live back in the late 1970s. He then appeared in skits with his comedy partner, Tom Davis. He was a semi-regular presence on that show for years and, in some cases he was pretty damned funny. His imitation of the dour and preachy Illinois Sen. Paul Simon in the mock presidential debates in the 1988 cycle was spot-on and hilarious. It's worth remembering that history.

The problem that most conservatives have with Franken is that when he entered into the political arena, he was an especially vicious guy. I'd even be willing to forgive him that, though: as they say in Chicago, politics ain't beanbag. My problem with Franken is that he has a history with someone I know personally. That someone is Evan Montvel-Cohen. The story of Franken's involvement with Montvel-Cohen, and the scam Montvel-Cohen pulled on the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club to get funding that was instrumental to the founding of Air America ,was much downplayed during the election cycle, but it was to my mind the most damning thing about Franken. Montvel-Cohen and I both attended the same college. I know him. He was a shifty character then and most everyone on our campus recognized it. Franken did not, apparently. More importantly, Franken didn't do much of anything to make the situation right after he became aware of it. To me, the incident speaks to Franken's character and judgment. And it speaks quite badly.

Do I have a visceral reaction now when Franken's name comes up? Yeah, I guess I do.

So what about the reaction that Amanda has to Sarah Palin and the reasons for her reaction? She can answer that herself. I'd be willing to wager she has an interesting story to tell. And it's useful to tell these stories, I think.


Gino said...

i have an idea about the personal hatred toward sarah. i may post on it in the coming days.

Mark Heuring said...

I do too, Gino. I'll be curious to see what others say, though. Especially Amanda, if she sees this post.

toddsschneider said...

In response to this report, Air America Radio's owners, Piquant LLC, issued a press release stating that the alleged "mismanagement and corruption at Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club" was "absolutely disgraceful." In addition, the press release stated that although Piquant had "no obligation to Progress Media's business activities", Piquant had "agreed months ago to fully compensate the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club as a result of this transaction". Furthermore, in an Air America radio monologue on August 8, 2005, Al Franken stated, "...Rob Glaser, the new guy, who is the head of this new company Piquant, said OK, we don't legally have to pay it back, because we're a different company I guess, but we morally do, so they start making arrangements to pay it back." However, Piquant's press release and Franken's paraphrasing of Rob Glaser appear at odds with a settlement agreement between Piquant LLC, Evan Cohen, and Rex Sorensen. [3] This agreement includes details of the transfer of Air America Radio assets and specific liabilities from Progress Media to Piquant including the funds owed by Progress Media to Gloria Wise. No details surrounding the terms of the loan, or the repayment thereof, were included in the settlement agreement ...

Al Franken, commenting on the case during his radio show, characterized Cohen as "a crook" and said "I don't know why they did it, and I don't know where the money went. I don't know if it was used for operations, which I imagine it was. I think he was robbing Peter to pay Paul." Franken also stated that he knew nothing of the details of the loan between Gloria Wise and Progress Media.[7] ...

On September 8, 2005, Danny Goldberg, CEO of Air America, announced that the board of directors of the network's owner had accelerated its payment schedule and deposited the full $875,000 into the escrow account to settle the loan from the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club. Goldberg stated that Al Franken's signature on the agreement between Piquant LLC and Evan Cohen "was simply to waive his own claims in order to facilitate the transaction and allow the network to survive under new ownership." Mr. Goldberg said the portion of the agreement that listed the Gloria Wise claim of $875,000 did not apply to Mr. Franken, who was not an investor. "Al Franken does not have and never had any responsibility for this loan," Mr. Goldberg said in a written statement. "His role at Air America was then and remains today as on-air talent." [11][12] [13] ...

Mark Heuring said...


Thanks for visiting and for sharing that information here.

my name is Amanda said...

Wow, I'm quite flattered that my little post succeeded in being a little thought-provoking. Thanks for the shout-out! I am interested in writing about what peeves me when it comes to Sarah Palin, definitely! It will have to wait until I have time to write a blog post about it - as you probably figured you would need a whole blog post to talk about your Gut Feeling!

my name is Amanda said...

I can't believe I insisted on EXCLAIMING all three of the sentences in that previous comment.


*eye roll*

Mark Heuring said...


Sometimes when ya want to explain, ya just gotta exclaim. :)

W.B. Picklesworth said...

Hey, at least you didn't BOLD all of the words!!!

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