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October 30, 2002

Shocking! Wellstone Memorial Political

This piece from Slate is the nice version of the tsk-tsking of the "politicization" of Wellstone's funeral. A lot of the rhetoric fits the conservative idea of Wellstone's "authenticity" and other Dems not living up to that, disgracing his memory with a political rally instead of a solemn service.

Well bullshit. Nothing would have pissed Paul Wellstone off more than gathering 20,000 people together and NOT mobilizing them for action. Action was Wellstone's life and nothing would have pleased him more than his memorial being one mass organizing meeting.

The only complaint he would have had about last night's memorial is that phone banks were not set up to immediately put everyone to work.

Wellstone's life was dedicated to mobilizing progressive forces to defeat the rightwing. He was a nice man, which made him beloved, but 20,000 people did not fill a stadium and C-SPAN did not air the memorial because of his personal qualities, but because of his political career.

So conservatives can kiss the bumpers of Wellstone's green bus. When Rick Kahn thundered "win this election for Paul Wellstone," Paul would have only objected that they should rather win it for the poor and oppressed for whom he always fought. But the crowd understood. The wonder of Paul is that his person and his cause had fused in the hearts of his supporters.

Posted by Nathan at October 30, 2002 09:22 AM

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Saletan is incapable of stepping out of his reporter shoes, of seeing politics as anything other than a horserace. When he sees people saying "win this election for Paul," he thinks they are trying to score political points, because it is inconceivable to him that anyone could actually care who wins the election. It's not about points, its about policies. And anyone who doesn't force himself into ironic detachment has to see that the policies Wellstone would have wanted--the reason he was there, and what makes him different from many other senators--depend on us winning this election for Paul Wellstone.

Posted by: Jesse at October 30, 2002 12:53 PM

it's inconceivable to celebrate wellstone's life and not get fired up about his passions...the common american, the rights of the little guy, the environment, etc etc. how anybody could expect people to memorialize wellstone and not wind up rallying the troops is beyond me.

as i said elsewhere, when the rational gets equal time to balance out rush limbaugh, then i'll worry about the repub's cry of politics at the wellstone memorial.

Posted by: skippy at October 31, 2002 03:27 AM

Fuck anybody who was shocked at this anyway: this was not their memorial.

Posted by: Martin Wisse at October 31, 2002 05:54 AM

Martin put it best

Posted by: Seth Edenbaum at October 31, 2002 11:16 AM


It was so tasteful that the crowd booed Wellstone's Republican colleagues from the Senate.

It was so perfectly well done that Wellstone's campaign manager apologized for the event.

And it was so appropriate for local networks to cover that each and every local channel has apologized in some form or another for being duped into covering a rally.

Frankly, I liked Wellstone. I would have likely cast opposite votes 99.5% of the time, but that matters little. He was honest and straightforward, and for all his populist leanings, he had real class. Too bad his memorial didn't.

Posted by: Mike Krempasky at October 31, 2002 02:53 PM

There's a big difference between mobilization and alienation, and it seems that only DFL members in Minnesota can't tell between the two.

If the late Senator would have approved of Rick Kahn's speech, his campaign manager wouldn't have felt the need to apologize for it. He saw how, after the speech, independents and swing voters with no party affiliation soured on the party. He saw how badly the booing of Trent Lott damaged Fritz Mondale's image as a "statesman" (not saying that Modale booed anyone, but he was tarred nonetheless.)

Would Paul Wellstone, who was so committed to the Democratic Senate plurality that he abandoned his pledge to retire after only two terms, have approved of the damage that rally did to his party's chances? Would Paul Wellstone approve ofa rally that gave Gov. Ventura the political cover and/or excuse to appoint a non-Democrat (thereby returning the Senate to Republican control until the election gets certified)? Would Paul Wellstone have approved of Democratic attempts to silence any discussion of issues (such as Carville's failed attempt to take on Newt Gingrich as he discussed Modale's record on the issues) prior to the rally?

I don't know the answers to these questions. If Wellstone is the man I've read about in the obituaries, I thnik he'd be embarassed by his party's behavior, and dismayed at the opportunity the DFL party has handed to the Republicans. Because of Rick Kaus and people like him, Mondale might just do the unthinkable on Tuesday... lose.

And one more point... is there anyone here who thinks that Walter Mondale will carry on the policies of Paul Wellstone? Or do you recognize the vast philosophical difference between the two?

Posted by: Mike W. at October 31, 2002 05:50 PM

I didn't personally watch Wellstone's memorial service, so I have only second-hand reports and a few sound clips to judge it on. But it seems incredibly stupid to have turned it into a giant campaign rally.

If the speakers honestly thought that the best way to memorialize Wellstone was for the Democrats to win the election, then what they did was highly counterproductive and sharply increased the risk that the Dems will instead lose the election. So by their own standards those speakers were doing grevious harm to Wellstone's legacy.

Mondale may still win, but the Democrats are now on the defensive, trying to explain why their actions should not be viewed as crass and politically motivated. Prior to the memorial service they had the high moral ground, and were in a position to condemn as insensitive virtually any campaigning that Coleman engaged in and any attacks that Republicans lobbed at Mondale. Now Democrats just look hypocritical if they complain about Republican campaigning.

It would have been so much more politically effective to have put on a somber, dignified memorial service. Republicans like Trent Lott and Dick Cheney and other of Wellstone's Senate colleagues should have been invited to eulogize him. Minnesota would have been soaked in bathos, and Coleman wouldn't have had the slightest chance of overcoming that. Instead the memorial service featured rah-rah election cheers, and that photo of Clinton and Mondale laughing and having a great old time.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Posted by: Daniel Wiener at October 31, 2002 08:03 PM

It would have been so much more politically effective to have put on a somber, dignified memorial service. Republicans like Trent Lott and Dick Cheney and other of Wellstone's Senate colleagues should have been invited to eulogize him

Nah. We're not falling for any more of that crap. If Trent wants to soak up some of the sympathy for Paul's death, let him find a GOP Senator to die tragically one week before an election he was coasting to win.

It is apparently unthinkable that this memorial might have been planned and executed by Wellstone's family and friends and that the Democratic elders were decent enough not to try to dictate their behavior in the name of "bipartisanship" (aka "battered liberal syndrome.")

Shockingly, unlike virtually every national Democrat, Wellstone's kids don't seem to think they are required to constantly kowtow to the opposition in the vain hope that they won't get mad and metaphorically beat the hell out of them. They recognize that liberals have a right to hear someone give voice to their beliefs once in a while, just like every other American.

The Wellstones had the memorial they wanted. If it results in Mondale losing his race, then so be it. I'm tired of calibrating every little thing to the calculated phony sanctimony of the GOP selective morals police.

And, it's just possible that for every shocked GOP Miss Manners who found the memorial so shockingly inappropriate (much as their delicate sensibilities were supposedly offended by that nasty oral sex), there are 2 liberals who will be motivated to vote after hearing such a stirring call to action.

scary, scary, scary...

Posted by: digby at October 31, 2002 10:02 PM

We'll speak again after Mondale has won the elections.

Posted by: Martin Wisse at November 1, 2002 08:41 AM

It always facinates me to see that when the Democratic Party gets together for a party like the so called Wellstone Memorial. The venom and hatred that they spread is ignored by the major media outlets. Try to imagine what would have happened if Trent Lott had died in a Plane Crash. The Liberals would probably have been cheering, and the mainstream media would be making excuses for them. For those of you who don't understand what the major outlets are it is the following groups.(ABC,NBC,CBS,CNN)

PS-Keep sounding like a group of extreme left wing nuts, and nothing Paul Wellstone ever supported will ever see the light of day.

Posted by: Tom at November 3, 2002 02:03 PM

"We'll speak again after Mondale has won the elections."

vox populi vox dei

The rally offended people's sense of decency. Mondale to his credit understood that. A Republican Senator for 6 years seems a high price to pay, but no-one can say it's undeserved.

Posted by: Charles at November 6, 2002 12:12 PM

"We'll speak again after Mondale has won the elections"....sorta like Paul Wellstone pledging nothing over two terms. Well, Martin and digby, guess you really dont speak for the PEOPLE, do ya? I know you'll have some demented diatribe, that's expected. Oh yeah, didnt JFK, Robert Kennedy and MLK have some great booing and "get out and vote" photo-ops in their services? Oh, sorry...different type of people then...

Posted by: arty at November 6, 2002 01:28 PM

The Wellstones had the memorial they wanted. If it results in Mondale losing his race, then so be it.

And so it was.

At least they and you can console yourselves that it was worth the price.

I'm sure Mondale is resting more peacefully now.

Posted by: Daniel Wiener at November 6, 2002 06:17 PM

Obviously I meant "Wellstone" not "Mondale".

Although Mondale will also have plenty of opportunities to rest. He's probably much happier returning to his well-deserved retirement...

Posted by: Daniel Wiener at November 6, 2002 06:25 PM

It's not a question of consoling myself, but of consoling the family. Oddly, those calling for a more politically astute memorial are ironically the ones asking that the family subjugate personal emotion to political expediency.

The "overly" political memorial was far less political than what was demanded of the family by both right and left.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at November 6, 2002 09:33 PM

The obvious partianship and venom of the Democratic Party finally backfired on them. Thank God. Finally people are coming to their senses.

Posted by: KLC at November 8, 2002 10:33 AM

Oh yeah-- unlike the sweetness of the Right circulating videos accussing Clinton of being a mass murder-- see the Clinton Chronicles.

It was the rightwing continuing their nastiness, attacking the children of a dead man for emotional statements. To quote Joseph Welch, have they no shame. Sure it was partisan, but so are all sorts of events.

It was rightwing assaults on a family memorial that helped galvinize the rightwing. Hey, they used abuse of mourning friends and families as their whipping boys and it worked. Peggy Noonan actually used the voice of Paul to chastize his own children-- an obscenity that seemed to work.

But don't talk to me about mean-spiritedness. There was nothing mean-spirited about the memorial, only the response by the rightwing.

But then they have decades of spreading lies and distortions.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at November 8, 2002 10:58 AM

Baloney. The Wellstone Memorial was the true colors of the Democratic Brat attitude coming through loud and clear. It was clearly mean-spirited and childish. Nobody twisted anybody's arm to make these people act the way they did. And Wellstone's children might act like children, but they are adults and should know better. Oh well, can't blame them too much. They learned it by example. The Democrats have set a precident on acting like children. And it cost them dearly as it should have. Low-class all the way, or should I say no class at all.

As far as the video tape is concerned. I live in the South and more of it is true than you want to believe. But , then again, what can you expect from someone like Clinton? After all, he's the enbodiment of what it is to be a Democrat.

The Democrats are the one's who have no shame, thay care about nothing but winning and they will lie, cheat, slant, spin, fabricate, distort, buy-off, or do what ever is necessary to accomplish this goal. They are paying for it now and if there is any justice left in this world they will pay for it even more heavily in 2004.

Posted by: KLC at November 8, 2002 03:11 PM

Hey folks-- we've got a certified rightwing psycho -- anyone who takes seriously the idea that Clinton was a serial murderer (except in the conventional sense of bombing innocents that all Presidents are) is so far off in la-la land as not to be taken seriously.

Posted by: Nathan at November 8, 2002 03:18 PM

You can certify me right-wing, if you like, because no one with any intelligence would be anything else.And, just like a true Democrat who won't check facts and likes to follow along the sheeple trail, you resort to calling me a psycho. I said MORE of the tape was true than you would like to believe. I didn't say it was all true. Or, at least, can't be proven. Democrats are so predictable.

Posted by: KLC at November 8, 2002 03:29 PM

Baloney. The Wellstone Memorial was the true colors of the Democratic Brat attitude coming through loud and clear. It was clearly mean-spirited and childish. Nobody twisted anybody's arm to make these people act the way they did. And Wellstone's children might act like children, but they are adults and should know better.

Most of the memorial was very respectful. I was there. You're moronic comments about things you don't understand make me think your head may be a little to far up you ass ever for a republican! You're an adult and should know better!-whovian222@msn.com

Posted by: Chris mankey at October 26, 2005 12:48 AM

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