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As others see it: A comedy-free Franken

Al Franken, with wife Franni at his side, answers reporters questions Tuesday after the Minnesota Supreme Court declared him the winner of the state's second U.S. Senate seat. (Don Davis/State Capitol Bureau)

Al Franken wasn't very funny at all in his debut as a U.S. senator -- and that's fine with us.

Sure, his stoic introductory news conference followed by his serious swearing-in ceremony may have disappointed the national media, especially pundits seeking to dissect a punch line or see Stuart Smalley resurrected.

But Franken's serious, workmanlike debut is exactly what we believe most Minnesotans -- no matter how they voted -- want to see this week and throughout five-plus years left in his term.

Remember, this is a state that elected a pro wrestler to the office of governor only to watch (sometimes in horror) as that elected official became more obsessed with self-promotion than promoting public policy. ...

In all honesty, we don't expect Franken to "go there." During his two-year campaign, he worked extremely hard to downplay his career as a versatile comedian, one whose work often was tinged in blue. (And by that we don't mean Democratic.) Similarly, and despite relentless attack ads, he often minimized his role as a partisan radio commentator. Even during the eight-month saga that was the recount he kept a low profile.

So while the national media might see him as mundane, even somber, we see that as a good starting point and one to build upon by being an effective senator.

In case you forgot, his campaign championed many middle-class causes, from providing broadband access in rural communities to giving tax credits for college students and their families. As we noted then and still wonder now, such proposals sound good, but what about their funding sources?

Of course, Franken's next spotlight experience likely will come when the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member, begins confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

To Franken's credit, we hope he continues to play the straight man we've seen so far.

St. Cloud Times