I read Katherine Kersten’s piece in the Oct. 22 Star Tribune about my dad. If we’re going to have a discussion about my dad’s respect for all religious views, it’s important to note that he has been married to a Catholic (my mom) for 33 years.

 

And instead of judging my dad’s character based on a few of the less-funny jokes he’s told over the last 30 years, I thought I might tell you about his real character.

A lot of people think that just because my dad was on TV, we had a crazy childhood. But mostly, it was … normal. My parents put a real focus on education, and pretty much forced us to develop good study habits. My brother and I were expected to do our homework every night, and if we didn’t, we had to answer to my parents. Well, to my mom. Dad always let her handle the "bad cop" stuff.

And we laughed a lot, too. My Dad is fond of saying that kids don’t need quality time with their parents — they need quantity time. And even though he worked a lot, we had quantity time. Whether it was hanging out in the kitchen making dinner as a family or just sitting in front of the TV, my brother and I always felt like our parents were there for us.

Even though my dad worked on "Saturday Night Live" (and therefore worked really late on Saturday nights), he would wake up early every Sunday to pitch at my brother’s Pee Wee League games or take him to hockey practice. And whether it meant just going across town or driving two hours to my summer camp, my parents never missed one of my performances.

In college, I only had to pull one all-nighter (there are those study habits coming in handy), and my dad stayed up, too. He was on the phone with me until 4 in the morning, helping edit down my sociology paper, which was way too long. And because my parents focused so much on education, I ended up becoming a teacher myself.

That’s the Al Franken I know. And even though some people who only know him as a comedian are surprised to learn that he serves on the board of the Congressional Hunger Center, or that he’s been on seven USO tours to visit our troops overseas, that’s just how he is.

I can understand if someone doesn’t like a joke. But if character is what matters, take it from someone who actually knows him: If he can be as good a senator as he is a father, Minnesotans will be proud to call him their own.

Thomasin Franken, a teacher, is working on her father’s Senate campaign.