Al Franken on Life in the Senate

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In The New York Times Book Review, Molly Ball reviews Al Franken’s “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate.” Ball writes:


More interesting than Franken’s political points is his description of the value of humor as a force for bringing people together. He devotes a lot of space to his friendly relationships with Senate Republicans, from the cranky Kansan Pat Roberts to Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, “the funniest Republican in the Senate.” (Informed that Franken is taking a vacation in Puerto Rico, Graham deadpans, “Do two fund-raisers: one with the folks for statehood, one with the folks against statehood. They never talk to each other.”)

He’s found common ground with such staunch conservatives as David Vitter of Louisiana, considers the present attorney general, Jeff Sessions, a personal friend and once wrote a country song with the Utah senator Orrin Hatch. He’s made McConnell laugh out loud: “Try to imagine what that looks and sounds like! You can’t!” After years of railing against George W. Bush while he was in office, Franken even manages to share a laugh with the former president when they run into each other. Maybe, he implies, we’d all be better off if we could dial back the partisan outrage and learn to take a joke.

On this week’s podcast, Franken discusses his new book; Thomas E. Ricks talks about “Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom”; Dav Pilkey on the movie adaptation of “Captain Underpants” and more; and Gregory Cowles, Parul Sehgal and John Williams on what people are reading. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books mentioned in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:

“The Poetics of Space” by Gaston Bachelard

“Latecomers” by Anita Brookner

“World War I and America” edited by A. Scott Berg

“Great Expectations” by Robert Gottlieb

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