Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Celebrating A Life? No. Exploiting a Death

If this doesn't backfire on the Democrats, the citizens of Minnesota are truly pathetic souls. [FURTHER NOTE: Of course, the problem is not that the "Memorial" celebrated life and not death (that would have fulfilled its legitimate purpose) - its offensive aspect was that it did not focus on the life it was suppose to celebrate, instead exploited the death for the political gain of other people, and mostly proclaimed a vulgar campaign opportunity. And from the media coverage, that appears to be the way most people construed it other than rock-ribbed Democrat loyalists.]

UPDATE: Mullings provides a partisan but realistic evaluation of Mr. Mondale. It's the kind of thing Minnesotans will want to recall before they vote for someone mistakenly thought to have absorbed Senator Wellstone's ectoplasm - an election process the media and the Democrats want produced from a rejected script for a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode.

FURTHER UPDATE: This race seems to still be very much in play - and yesterday's phony and overtly politicized "Memorial" for deceased Senator Paul Wellstone is the Democrats' gift to Mr. Coleman. He should take it and run with it.

Jesse Ventura says he will appoint an independent - not a Democrat - to fill Senator Wellstone's position until the election. He says his move was prompted by disgust at the hugely and inappropriately politicized "Memorial Service."

My guess is that a great many people in Minnesota who are not rock-ribbed Democratic Party loyalists share their Governor's reaction to the Memorial's excesses. I believe that Memorial likely represents the Democrats way overplaying their hand, and will probably backfire if the Republicans handle it right. And while it's a long way from a scientific poll of Minnesotans, a lot of bloggers seem pretty disgusted with the "Memorial."

Specifically, if the Memorial is presented correctly to the public, the way is now open for the Republicans to treat Walter Mondale to a full dose of an ordinary but carefully executed political campaign. That campaign should properly include lots of reminders of Mr. Mondale's own far-less-than-stellar career, and his advanced age.

The phony "Memorial" histrionics may even cause some media reporters to wake up to the obligation to remind people that, yes, a vote for Walter Mondale is, yes, a VOTE FOR WALTER MONDALE. It seems that local Minnesota station KARE-TV reports: [Memorial Speaker] Kahn's comments, which came more than an hour into the planned two-hour tribute shocked media outlets across the state that were carrying the event live. Viewers and listeners were outraged. By 10:15 p.m., KARE TV's operator had logged more than 100 calls. It is unknown how many calls went to the station's overflow voicemail system. >[UPDATE: And the Note reports: "At KSTP-TV, Tyler Damerville, night assigning editor, said he and his associate were inundated with phone calls from viewers who were upset with the political spin of the memorial. He said viewers have called him and said the station's voice mailbox is full."]

A debate demand is also appropriate. And, if Mr. Mondale refuses to debate, he should be hammered with that refusal. Such refusals are almost always poison for the refuser. Perhaps Lautenberg will get away with it in New Jersey. But Minnesota is not New Jersey, and Mr. Coleman is a much more viable candidate than Mr. Forrester is. In Minnesota, a refusal to debate should easily cost the Democrat the election. On the other hand, a debate may show just how worn down Mr. Mondale has become - if it bears out the photos of him now making the rounds.

Nor will that now-infamous happy, happy, happy AP photo of the "bereaved" Bill Clinton and Walter Mondale fail to have its effect on the voters. And it's also worth remembering the ongoing absentee voter mess, especially with respect to already-cast votes for Senator Wellstone - although it seems not to be polite to talk or write about the mess too much just now, to go by the lack of mainstream media attention.

Buckle your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy week in Minnesota.

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