Death, Hypocrisy, & The Lesser Of 2 Evils Dilemma
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 10/27/02
2 days ago
Minnesotaís senior Senator Paul Wellstone, a Democrat, was killed in a small
plane crash near Eveleth, Minnesota, along with his wife, daughter, 3 campaign
workers, & the 2 pilots. He was campaigning hard in a fight against
Republican ex-mayor of St. Paul, Norm Coleman. Some other minor party candidates
were also involved but basically it was a dirty mud-slinging fight between the 2
main combatants. However, right after the crash on Friday the dead Senator
suddenly was up for beatification- even from Republican politicians- both in
Minnesota & nationwide. What hypocrisy! & how typical.
I am a registered Democrat, but I can tell you I really loathed Wellstone- the politician, if not the man. But, then- are the 2 intertwined? I mean, since the crash Republicans, who excoriated Wellstone, have been singing his praises as a tough but fair opponent, while Democrats have been talking about the man as if he were a major historical figure. Both sides talk about his integrity, even as Republicans pointed out that the man went back on his promise to not serve more than 2 terms. Democrats counter that thatís just politics as usual, while non-aligned voters tended to view Wellstone as the lesser of 2 evils- a too-common rallying cry in most elections. Yet, the man was, in fact, a proven liar. Not only on his pledge to serve just 2 terms- but ask most gay voters, who were stabbed in the back when Wellstone, in 1996 while trying to get re-elected, joined the Far Right in supporting the specious & ludicrous anti-gay Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA). Despite that, Wellstone- on death- was hailed as a man of conviction- a modern Mr. Smith who went to Washington. Granted, that may all be true- but do not leave out the fact that he returned a corrupted, cynical politician. At least with Bill Clinton Progressive causes knew they were dealing with a 2-Face. This duplicity, plus his genuine stupidity, & penchant for displays of asininity, made him an embarrassment to most Progressives- an easy target of ridicule that did more harm than good to his causes. Yes, I agreed with him more than not, but he was exceedingly ineffective because of his antics- like his 1991 protest against the Gulf War in- of all places- front of the Vietnam War Memorial! Not to mention his dastardly support of wasteful government spending on arts. The truth is that his 12 years in the Senate were mostly forgettable. He was a little man in more than height. He was- in short (although now, doubtlessly denied)- a sort of national political joke.
I recall the 1st time I saw the former Political Science professor from Carleton College (in Northfield, Minnesota) on tv. He was on a PBS program in late í91-early í92. It may have been 1 of the national shows or 1 of the local shows. He was asked about the Balkans War, & what the repercussions might be if the fighting in that region brought in the armed forces of Turkey- then 1 of the 10 largest militaries in the world. Without even pausing to think, Wellstone blurted out that Turkey was of no concern since that was the Middle East- a different part of the world. That this former Political Science professor never seemed to glance at a Rand-McNally & see that less than 100 miles of Greece stand between Turkey & the disintegrating Yugoslavia dumbfounded me. This grotesque stupidity was no mere slip of the tongue. The years proved how shallow-minded Wellstone was. Yet death has apotheosized many a worse politician & person. I donít doubt Wellstone was a decent man, but he was a bad Senator. If I, a Democrat, am not willing to admit that some of the leaders of my registered party (Iíve tended to drift to 3rd party candidates in recent years- Nader in 1996 & 2000 for Prez, for instance. I refuse to do the lesser of 2 evils crap for you are still left with an evil. My belief is if everyone voted their true conscience we would accomplish alot more because Democrats & Republicans would not be able to hijack issues from the public.) are bad, then how can I criticize Republicans who still alibi for Nixon, Reagan, & the 2 Bushes? Simply spouting out what interest groups want to hear is not enough- effectiveness in achieving these things matters. On this count Wellstone was an unabashed failure with no real legislative legacy. In short, a political midget!
The only positive thing that I could think of resulting from a Wellstone re-election would be that the political career of Norm Coleman would be dead. Coleman- a turncoat Democrat- is anti-abortion, pro-big business, & had a failed record as St. Paul mayor. He could not even beat wacky ex-pro wrestler Jesse Ventura out in the 1998 Minnesota Governorís race & has brooded over it ever since. He has all the oleaginous charm & sincerity of a used car salesman & the only reason he even had a shot to beat Wellstone was because of Wellstoneís lack of stature. Yet these 2 paragons were slinging mud with a fury. Wellstone started it by airing a commercial showing Coleman endorsing his & Bill Clintonís re-election bids in 1996. Coleman then countered by saying that the state could only get better by passing its well stone. Now that it has the Coleman camp is silent. Democrats seem to have turned to 74 year old ex-Senator & ex-U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale to fill in for Wellstone in the election little more than a week away. I, for 1, am relieved as Mondale is an articulate & respected elder statesman whom I voted for in the 1984 Presidential race against the evil Ronald Reagan. The Far Right even respects him, unlike the phoniness they displayed toward Wellstone. He actually had a track record of accomplishment, not just a mouth. In short, there is now a clear cut choice, not a lesser of 2 evils campaign. I had been leaning toward Green Party candidate for Senate Ray Tricomo, but if Mondale runs I will vote Democratic for that seat. Not only will Minnesota have a good Senator again (its junior Senator Mark Dayton- a guilty white liberal scion of wealth- usually a good thing- seems to be an almost stealth presence in the Senate. Excuse me- but why bother to be elected if you are not GONNA FIGHT?!), but the ophidian Coleman will have to shed about a half dozen more skins before anyone considers him a serious candidate for anything.
In short, while I feel badly that any decent person dies a tragic death, I am realistic enough to know that this gives voters in Minnesota a chance to actually elect someone with good ideas & a proven record of effectiveness in achieving results. R.I.P. Senator Wellstone- in death youíve finally done the good you failed to do in life!
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