I’ve read this book before. At the time, although I liked it, it failed to impress me as much as Lies and the Lying Liars…, and I was principally concerned with how it would hold up both in terms of diminishing returns in successive readings and the graceful decay of its topical content.
Although I’ve reread it less than a year after its initial reading, I must admit that my opinion of its this time was significantly more positive than before. At the time, Franken seemed more angry than funny1, and certainly The Truth (With Jokes) seems to a be a book written largely out of a sense of obligation to (sort of) apologize for the Democratic Party’s failures in 2004 and further expose the wrongdoings of government croneyism and crooks like Jack Abramoff and (to only a slighter extent) Tom DeLay; his previous book, meanwhile, seem to be Franken genuinely having fun skewering the talking heads of the bloviating Bill O’Reilly, the batshit Anne Coulter, and the smug Sean Hannity. Franken at play, instead of a much graver Franken; Franken the apologist, Franken the underdog, Franken the chastened.
But more of The Truth resonated with me this time. Perhaps when I last read it, I was still too disappointed by 2004. Perhaps Franken’s radio show and somehow altered by expectations for his creation. Whatever it was, it seemed somehow awkward or misspent. Now, perhaps with Bush’s low, low approval ratings (about 29%, I believe), I believe just a little better when Franken rants about the “Fears and Queers” tack that the Bushies took during the campaign, &tc. This time, the book seemed prescient; I can only hope the “letter” that comprises the final chapter will prove equally prescient.
- Arguably, I’ve always found Franken not very funny at all, but merely witting, and with a biting intelligence and a penchant for readable political prose[↩]