Some have been criticizing Senator Al Franken for has lack of decorum by pulling faces while presiding over the Senate during a speech by GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell responded by uttering the line every Republican has been itching to say since Franken joined the Senate: “This is not ‘Saturday Night Live, Al.’ ” The Hill quoted Senate aids as saying that they were “shocked that Franken would flout the decorum of the chamber during such a solemn occasion.”
Actually, the main difference between SNL and the Senate chamber is that there is at least a chance that something novel or meaningful will be said on SNL. The Senate used to be referred to as “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” which is a bigger joke than Al ever came up with on SNL. Indeed, there is no room in the entire nation less likely to host any kind of deliberation than the Senate chamber. It has been reduced over time to a staging area where the most self-important people on the planet give self-serving, inconsequential, aide-written speeches that no one listens to and which can be changed after-the-fact before they enter the official record. Can anyone alive remember the last time two or more people actually deliberated anything in the Chamber?
It wasn’t a wise or respectful move by Franken, clearly. But rather than seeing it as mocking a “solemn occasion” (The Hill), it is better interpreted as an unintended “The Emporer has no Clothes” type of action — like a small child would do (or a child-like Senator). Kinda touching, really.