The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, January 24, 2005

Franken plumbs the well of ignorance on AAR

Usually, it's Janeane Garofalo and her sidekick: recently, for instance, she's let slip that she'd thought William Jennings Bryan had given the Cross of Gold speech at the Scopes monkey trial (in 1925).

Now, I'm listening for an odd minute to Al Franken, talking about the recently deceased Johnny Carson, who's not only telling the Buddy Hackett joke (don't ask!) for the twentieth time in my hearing (I'm far from a Franken completist!) but also the preamble about his mother leaving the room when Hackett came on the TV (ditto).

And he tells a story about Carson (again with the asking!) that involves Richard Nixon's campaign song for his run for the US Senate. Which Franken attributed to 1948.

Surely the Number One enemy of the Minnesota pinko, a million effigies with pins in, and he doesn't know the year that Beelzebub first ran for the Senate? Jesus!

It was 1950, of course. And there was no US Senate seat contested in the Golden State in 1948 - he who became the Senior Senator in 1951 was William Knowland, who had been appointed in August 1945 to fill Hiram Johnson's seat when the old bastard finally pegged it.

(Nixon fought Helen Gahagan Douglas for an open seat in 1950, vacated by one Sheridan Downey - scarcely a household name in his own household, I'm thinking.)


Of course, most things, you should check. (I couldn't have sworn, for example, that Douglas wasn't the incumbent - so I checked [1].)

But there are key historical markers that you shouldn't need to - US presidents of the 20th century, say. Not if you're opining on politics on the public airwaves, that is.

(Career paths to check every time: Wayne Morse and Strom Thurmond.)

  1. The first woman elected a US Senator without previously having been appointed to her seat was Margaret Chase Smith - in 1948. That, I didn't need to check. (Except, of course, I did.)

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