Political courage
October 25, 2007 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Today is the fifth anniversary of Senator Paul Wellstone's death. Wellstone's friend and Senate colleague Mark Dayton writes in today's St. Paul Pioneer Press that Wellstone's vocal opposition to the Iraq War in the days leading up to his death in an airplane crash offers an example of rare political courage.
posted by Rain Man (29 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
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posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:28 AM on October 25, 2007

posted by katillathehun at 7:33 AM on October 25, 2007

Wellstone's vocal opposition to the Iraq War in the days leading up to his death in an airplane crash

It just jumped right out at me...like that secret service guy
posted by criticalbill at 7:40 AM on October 25, 2007

Weirdly, the MeFi thread about the Wellstone crash was my personal introduction to the value of this site when Big Stuff happens.

That was one sad motherfucking day.
posted by COBRA! at 7:44 AM on October 25, 2007


and .
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:55 AM on October 25, 2007

A fine UNC alum. There is a nice memorial spot to him there.
posted by malaprohibita at 8:19 AM on October 25, 2007

Nice, malaprohibita. I like how Wellstone took his NC jones and brought 'em here to Minnesota. I volunteered for his first campaign (1990) when he was a barely known, 'out of left field' challenger to both the local democrats and the sitting republican senator. Lots and lots of energy -- one of the few politicians I have actually admired as people. For his second campaign (1996) they didn't need any help from random volunteers, the guy was authenticity personified.
posted by Rain Man at 8:29 AM on October 25, 2007

Bush certainly has had a much easier time these past five years without Wellstone. It's useless speculation but I sometimes wonder if he (Wellstone) could have made a legitimate bid for the Whitehouse. (can you imagine what his response to Gitmo have been?)
posted by edgeways at 9:22 AM on October 25, 2007

Wellstone was a good man who walked the talk. He is missed.
posted by rockhopper at 10:08 AM on October 25, 2007

I cried that day. The next day I marched in Washington DC with the Not In Our Name protest against the Iraq war. There was an outpouring of solidarity there that made me proud to be a native Minnesotan.

A few months later I was at a Mighty Mighty Bosstones show and Dicky announced that the bombs were now falling on Baghdad, then they launched into "Tin Soldier". It was pretty intense. I've never been more ashamed to be an American than that day.

To this day I still don't know what to think about Wellstone's death. He would have been a lightning rod of opposition to the war, and without him there was nobody to galvanize the anti-war sentiment and nobody to stand up to the hatemongering. He is truly missed, maybe with his passionate voice in the political picture things would have been different.

Then again, maybe not.
posted by baphomet at 11:46 AM on October 25, 2007

Yes, it was a tragic "accident."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:02 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

I still think Walter Mondale shouldn't have turned the memorial service into a frickin' party rally, though.
posted by briank at 12:03 PM on October 25, 2007

I still think Walter Mondale shouldn't have turned the memorial service into a frickin' party rally, though.
He didn't. Wellstone's son got political for a few moments and the media blew it out of proportion. Al Franken has a good write-up about it in one of his books.
posted by Rashomon at 12:21 PM on October 25, 2007

Yeah. The conservative media just wanted to lash out at something about the situation (they get stewed up when democrats get sympathy in the media). Wellstone's son gave them a little bit of ammo, which they predictably turned into a mortar barrage.
posted by baphomet at 12:27 PM on October 25, 2007

Oh what I wouldn't give to bring back Paul Wellstone. A great Senator and a great man.
posted by naoko at 12:41 PM on October 25, 2007

The day he died I was on a trip to DC, one of the rare ones where I had to rent a care. I was returning from Bethesda to National Airport and was listening to the local public radio station and they kept talking about Wellstone and how he did this and did that. I listened for a half hour, at first thinking how cool it was that our senator was being praised on DC radio, then slowly realizing that he must be dead even though no one actually said that. It was surreal, heart-wrenching, and indelible.

Paul, R.I.P.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:16 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Er, rent a car.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:16 PM on October 25, 2007

Oh, and Rashomon, it wasn't so much his son, it was his close friend, Rick Kahn, who really pissed off the right wingers. That, coupled with our local Republican "analyst" loony Sarah Janacek who was sure that the real-time closed captions were evidence that the entire thing was scripted, has taught me that the Republican party is now hostage to people with neither heart nor soul.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:23 PM on October 25, 2007

I hear the conspiracy theory about this all the time, and I don't get it. Wellstone was a very good Democratic Senator, but what was so dangerous about him that would have warranted murder? I man, just for the sake of argument.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 2:28 PM on October 25, 2007

RIP. One of the few good ones.

Stand Up - Keep fighting.
posted by lalochezia at 2:54 PM on October 25, 2007

posted by wafaa at 3:55 PM on October 25, 2007

He’s STILL dead? F’ing Republicans.

“I've never been more ashamed to be an American than that day.”

You’ve got nothing to be ashamed about as long as you’re working for a better world. We’re only superficially identified by our countries borders. What defines us is our allegence to the ideals and values that truly matter. “American” for some is just a cheap cover. I wouldn’t allow them the luxury of co-opting the symbol. The war, the torture - that’s not us, and it won’t be us as long as we continue to fight it.

“but what was so dangerous about him that would have warranted murder? I man, just for the sake of argument.”

For the sake of argument - why not? I have no opinion on the circumstances of his death (Cui Bono? of course, but lack of evidence is lack of evidence). But you’re misunderestimating the mindset.
There is no threshold of value there required to justify murder in the mind of a murderer, only the odds of retribution.
Given Wellstone was easy to kill (e.g. he’s up in a plane, there’s plausible deniability) why not kill him?
He only has to be enough of a pain in the ass to justify the effort. And indeed, given the likelyhood he could be (have been) major trouble down the road - why not kill him now when he’s less visibly a thorn in your side?
When you kill someone who is a giant pain everyone starts talking conspiracy even when it’s a larger operation and you’ve got a fall guy (JFK, RFK, MLK, etc).

But all that’s speculation.
More seriously, he wasn’t my senator (I live in Illinois), but it gives me a bad taste in my mouth to see any man of principle maligned at his own funeral.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:06 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

The Art Of The Hissy Fit
posted by homunculus at 7:51 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

hortense writes "this curious exchange"

Worth your click.
posted by orthogonality at 1:38 AM on October 26, 2007

After the late senator's speech (supposedly) he had a meeting with the president of the senate who is said to have told him 'if you do not support the war on terror there will be dire consequences for you and your family'
a vicious rumor since removed from where I found it, no link.
posted by hortense at 2:10 AM on October 26, 2007

Live on the Larry King show on CNN, Barbara Bush,
posted by hortense at 2:22 AM on October 26, 2007

I am not saying he was assassinated, but there certainly was enough political motive, it was before an election in which the Senate balance was going to be in question, and he was perhaps the most vocal, popular and persuasive politician in opposition to the war.

I honestly don't know what to think, I don't like to buy into conspiracy theories, but there are some outstanding questions and it was pretty opportune for those in power.

Yeah, the funeral was seriously mangled in the press and talking heads, just as was the "dean scream", just further illustrates why politicians and those around them can't afford to be wholly human, it cuts both ways.
posted by edgeways at 11:09 AM on October 26, 2007

"I don't like to buy into conspiracy theories"

Why not? Within logical parameters they explain a whole lot.
I mean the 9/11 thing - who benefited? That's all you have to ask. Details (like a missile, or planting charges, whatever) are irrelevant and typically there just to cloud the issue.
Same deal here.
The key is merely to not make irrational decisions based on evidence you don't have.
Understanding that if something looks fishy - it probably is, is not something to be ashamed of.
Indeed, a great deal of con games are run on people who already know their being conned, but are too ashamed to admit it. So they just keep going. They'd rather lose their money than confront the con artist they'd taken into their confidence.
Scary but true.
And it's the inverse of the "conspiracy theory" - the con victim mentality.
We just keep hoping and trusting the world isn't that scary and sharks aren't ruling us.
Silly really.
But in any relationship both sides are bound and there are typically safeguards against exploitation by either side. Very common principle in business.

If you don't see it, if it's not plain - Well then... you're getting screwed, and even if you're not, you should think you are and pull the plug.

Where is the assurance of propriety in this investigation?
Don't see it? Well, then....

Doesn't mean you have to grab a torch and pitchfork and storm the FBI, but it doesn't mean you have to buy into all this either if ever it comes time to put something real on the line.
As with any con.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:13 PM on October 26, 2007

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