October 29, 2002
Overlooking the obvious
Tony Adragna points me to this Tim Noah piece, in which Noah attempts to uncover the reason for all those nice obits for Paul Wellstone that various right-wingers have been writing:
Conservatives grieve Paul Wellstone because there is little or no chance that anyone as far to the left as Wellstone will be elected to the Senate anytime soon. Since the start of the Clinton administration, the main Republican project has been to maintain the fiction that an overwhelmingly centrist Democratic Party lies to the left of the American mainstream. Without Wellstone, that point will be a little harder to argue.
Hello! Do the words "Senator Hillary Clinton" mean anything to you, Tim? John Cornyn has been running ads
linking Ron Kirk to Hillary Clinton since at least September. And then there's this Kennedy fella from Massachussettes, I hear the GOP thinks he's pretty liberal, too. I guarantee, if there's one thing the GOP is not worried about right now, it's running out of liberal bogeypeople to use in their mass-mailers.
Maybe it's just different here in flyover country, but I honestly can't ever recall seeing a political ad or reading a scare quote in the papers from a Republican that invoked Paul Wellstone's name as That Which All Right-Thinking People Must Stand United Against. For one thing, I just don't think Wellstone was all that well known. For another thing, the great Clinton menace was more than enough red meat for the purposes at hand, with Ted Kennedy serving as the steak sauce if a little extra zest was needed. Senator Wellstone's tragic and untimely death will not change any of that one bit.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 29, 2002 to Other punditry
The writer overlooks the non-cynical reasons to mourn Paul Wellstone: he was genuine, he was passionate, he was different.
I was disgusted this morning by a piece on NPR, a fluffy, soft-focus piece on Wellstone's passing. But this wasn't the expected piece on the funeral or anything like that -- it was a Democratic pep rally in Minnesota held to fire up the party by specificially using "do it for Paul" language. Couldn't they at least wait until after the burial?
I thought it was the evil Republicans who were guilty of politicizing Wellstone's death by proposing a debate between Mondale and "the other guy". And the mood at the rally wasn't somber at all; you could hear all the background cheering and jeering during the interviews. Nothing like a little death to get out the vote. At least the voters weren't dead like here in South Texas.
Red meat... steak sauce. Man, you're making me hungry.
I probably shouldn't open up this particular can of worms, but don't you think it might be possible that the Republicans are promoting the Last Liberal Left Standing myth because that moves the rest of the Democratic party to the center, and the They're All The Same fiction worked out so well for them in the last national election?
The best hope the Republicans have in this election is to convince the voters that they're the Democrats and the Democrats are the Republicans. Geez, even Nader has given that one up.