Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) scolded Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) on the Senate floor Thursday for allegedly mocking him while he delivered a solemn speech on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
The dust-up came seconds after McConnell delivered a speech on Kagan’s nomination shortly before the Senate voted to confirm her to the high court.Franken, who was presiding over the chamber from the dais, gesticulated and made faces while McConnell explained his opposition to Kagan, according to witnesses.The television cameras broadcasting the speech on C-SPAN remained fixed on McConnell, missing Franken’s antics from the Senate president’s chair.
McConnell grew increasingly angry as Franken made fun of him before a crowded public gallery and Senate aides lining the chamber walls. Senate aides said they were shocked that Franken would flout the decorum of the chamber during such a solemn occasion.
After McConnell finished his remarks, he walked up to the dais and rebuked him.
“This is not 'Saturday Night Live,' Al,” McConnell said, making reference to Franken’s career as a writer and actor on NBC’s long-running comedy show, according to a witness who overheard the exchange.
After the vote, Franken walked to McConnell's office to apologize but couldn't find him. He has sent a personal note, instead.
"The Leader thought I was disrespectful while he was giving his speech on General Kagan," Franken said in a statement to The Hill. "He is entitled to give his speech with the presiding officer just listening respectfully. I went directly to his office after I was done presiding to apologize in person. He wasn’t there, so I’ve sent him a handwritten note.”
It was pointed out by the folks at Powerline previous episodes of Franken crossing over the line and the need for anger management help.
I was told that Franken has become notorious on Capitol Hill for incidents of this kind. He is described as someone who frequently becomes rageful and lacking in control over the behavior related to his emotions. He is susceptible to outbursts, involving Republican Senators as well as staffers, immediately following which he is consumed with regret. He fits the profile of a guy with serious anger management issues.
Several of the incidents involving Franken have been reported in the Capitol Hill press, if not in the local Minnesota media, and not all such incidents involving Franken have been reported. One Capitol Hill source pointed out published stories including this one (citing several such incidents), this one (involving Senator Corker), and this one and this one (involving Senator Thune). Franken now avoids the Capitol Hill press.
Checking out the incident involving Senator McConnell, I immediately thought of our own reportage on Franken during the 2004 Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden. John Hinderaker provided readers an account of the "Row on Radio Row" (photograph above). The incident goes back to Franken's days with Air America.
In short, Al Franken is a guy with a problem. It hasn't gotten better since he was elected United States Senator. It may well have gotten worse. Someone who reports on the news for a living really should look into it.
Behavior before Franken ran for the Senate suggested Franken had problems but he generally kept a lid on it. But as one can see, the problem still persists.