My Friend Harry

Harry and Al

Harry Reid died yesterday, and I will miss him terribly. Harry and I were friends, and we’d talk on the phone periodically. When he was majority leader, almost every phone conversation with Harry was short and would end abruptly. He wouldn’t even say goodbye. He’d just hang up. Our calls the last few years were longer, and I must say that today. I am really sad As you might not expect, Harry was very funny. Dry, but funny. Once, after Obama spoke before a joint session of Congress, Harry and I were walking back to the Senate on a carpet … Read More…

How to Reform the Filibuster

How to Reform the Filibuster Al Franken and Norm Ornstein With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIB) and the impending passage of the Build Back Better legislation, Congress is ready to move on to its next urgent priority—protecting our elections and voters from disruption, chicanery and voter suppression. With the laws racing through a number of states that enable partisan actors to remove or intimidate election officials, use outrageous tactics to threaten poll workers and suppress votes, and with what we know about the background of the violent insurrection on January 6, there is clearly an existential threat … Read More…

How Ending the Blue Slip Damaged the Federal Courts Forever

Democracy Docket

When journalists write about the Republican takeover of the federal courts, they tend to focus on three events. 1) Harry Reid going nuclear in 2013. 2) Mitch McConnell blocking Merrick Garland. 3) Candidate Donald Trump promising just weeks before the 2016 election to choose Supreme Court nominees solely from a shortlist provided by The Federalist Society and The Heritage Society.

A Victory for Veterans with PTSD

I won the recount in my first race on January 5, 2009, in time to be seated with the rest of my Senate class. But Norm Coleman filed what is called an election contest, and I had to cool my jets until that was settled. Mainly, I spent my time asking folks for money to pay for a  legal battle that I would win – several times. But Republicans wanted to keep me out of the Senate for as long as possible. Ultimately, it would take eight full months between my election and my swearing in. When I was, I … Read More…

Regarding the Filibuster (by Al Franken and Norm Ornstein)

Al Franken

On a Thursday evening in July, 2009, one of us had just cast his last vote of the week on the Senate floor and wished a Republican colleague a good weekend by saying, “I’ll see you on Monday!” The colleague replied, “Oh, I won’t be here on Monday. It’s a cloture vote.” That’s when the Senator realized just how egregiously his Republican colleagues were abusing the filibuster. Mitch McConnell was well on his way to filibustering more of Barack Obama’s executive branch nominees than had been filibustered in the previous two hundred years. And yet, only one Republican would have … Read More…

Good luck, President-elect Biden. You’ll need it.


This piece was originally published in the Los Angeles Times on November 10, 2020. The careful observer will notice that Joe Biden’s approach to leadership is very different from Donald Trump’s. While Trump has sought to exploit divisions along racial, religious and philosophical lines — stoking grievances, suspicion and sometimes violence — Biden keeps telling us he wants to bring Americans together. Good! Also, good luck! If you’re reading this, chances are very good that on election night you were shocked and depressed at how close the race was. If you’re among those who believe that the election has been stolen from … Read More…

Interview with Christiane Amanpour

I did a nice interview with the great Christiane Amanpour earlier this week. See if you agree with me that I come off as extremely personable and insightful.  Subscribe to The Al Franken Podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google Play, YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts. Signup for the Al Franken Newsletter here.

A Quick Lesson in Math for Donald Trump


Now caught on tape telling Bob Woodward that he knew how deadly serious the Coronavirus was all along, President Trump is telling the American people that he misled us for our own good.  You know, so that we wouldn’t panic. We can only imagine what would have happened had we, the American people, panicked. You think the toilet paper shortage was bad in March?! Oh my God!!! Fortunately, for all of us, Trump played it all perfectly!  Yesterday, he reminded us once again, that because of his actions “we saved millions of U.S. lives.” Millions! I just hope Americans can … Read More…

What’s Really Going On


A lot of people think they understand why Donald Trump asked John Kelly what could possibly have been “in it” for his son and the other tens of thousands of fallen servicemen and women buried at Arlington Cemetery. It’s simple, right? Donald Trump just cannot grasp why anyone would ever do something that didn’t redound to his own personal benefit.  Well, yeah. I’m sure that’s part of it. That is exactly the kind of transactional thinking that you’d expect from a malignant narcissist like him. But it goes deeper than that. Because what was also happening is that Donald Trump, … Read More…

How a Malignant Narcissist Could Successfully Handle the Coronavirus

Donald Trump

It should be of no surprise that a great majority of the men who have sought and successfully attained the office of president have been narcissists. What most Americans would be surprised to learn is that a number of even our most successful and admired presidents like Teddy Roosevelt, for example, were themselves archetypal malignant narcissists. It is said that it was impossible to get through a dinner party without TR somehow working the conversation to the number of Spaniards he slaughtered “leading” the charge up San Juan Hill. And yet Teddy Roosevelt was an enormously successful and consequential president … Read More…

Facebook Does it Again

Mark Zuckerberg

After it came out that, during the 2016 campaign, Facebook had carried pro-Trump and anti-Hillary ads paid for by the GRU Russian intelligence agency, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing with top executives from Google, Twitter, and Facebook. It is against the law for foreigners to contribute to an American political campaign, and creating ads and buying ad space is, of course, considered a campaign contribution. In his opening testimony, Facebook’s general counsel testified that Facebook had not been aware that the Russians had bought ads. When it came my turn to question, I turned my focus on him, … Read More…