More noise than signal

Why Not Me? — Al Franken

Having thoroughly enjoyed two of Franken’s later books, The Truth… with Jokes and the excellently titled Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, I was, if you’ll pardon the phrase, stoked at the prospect of getting my mitts on this earlier outing. It’s not without its charms, but Why Not Me? doesn’t match up to its later companions.

It’s based on the (obviously) fictitious Franken Presidency’s rise to power on 2000 Democrat ticket, browbeating Al Gore out of the nomination with a slavish devotion to the big issue of ATM charges and an effective and completely fabricated assertion that Gore is in the pocket of big banking corporations, while himself taking sizable campaign donations from insurance concerns.

Taking us through from the campaign’ humble beginnings in the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries through to the disastrous, (prescription) drug addled first 144 days spent in office before being impeached, perhaps I just don’t know quite enough about the convolutions of the U.S. political system to fully appreciate the satire. I can, however, appreciate the addition of Dan ‘Grizzly Adams’ Haggerty to Franken’ campaign team and Al’ brother Otto’s Hacksaw Jim Duggan-esque solution to problems, that being find the guy causing them and club them with a 2×4 board.

Presented as a mixture of fake biographies, campaign diaries, newspaper cuttings and T.V. transcripts, Franken’ writing style is pleasingly addictive – I tore through this book in two days, a once common feat which I struggle to achieve these days. There’s enough good, although rapidly becoming very dated, material to earn this a cautious recommendation, but Franken newcomers would be better served with the other books mentioned three paragraphs ago.