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WELLSTONE WAKE ROUND-UP
By Ed Driscoll · October 30, 2002 12:54 PM · Bobos In Paradise · Democracy In America

As probably everybody reading this has already seen, the funeral services for Paul Wellstone ended up as a partisan pep rally yesterday. If you haven't, here's a round up of the coverage.

InstaPundit notes that "The event was too tacky for former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura." (And that's saying something!)

Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg writes:

That is what was so offensive about that rally: It shamelessly used Wellstone's death for partisan advantage while its organizers cynically accused their opponents of doing precisely that. Blaming others for something awful you've done is perhaps the defining attribute of Bill Clinton and his legacy on the Democratic party. Wellstone did many good things out of principle including work with Jesse Helms, a man he grew to befriend, on human rights in China. But he will now be invoked by Democrats everywhere simply to get out the vote, beat up Republicans, and raise millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

In short, so long as they hold onto the Senate, the Clinton Democrats who often found Wellstone's principles inconvenient will find him more useful dead than alive. They will rewrite the story of his life to fit any cause they choose much as they have done with other Democratic martyrs like John and Robert Kennedy (a Cold War anti-Communist and the attorney general who personally authorized the bugging of Martin Luther King, respectively). Wellstone's distinctiveness and honesty will melt in a warm pool of mass-marketed nostalgia. And, if Republicans complain, Democrats will simply charge insensitivity and laugh all the way to the bank.

Andrew Stuttaford reports that "Rick Kahn, the friend of Paul Wellstone who made what has been seen as an excessively partisan speech at the late senator's memorial service was, apparently, unrepentant afterwards". Kahn was quoted as saying:
"Can they not one time, just one time, step forward for Paul and honor that friendship? Why can't they do that? One time, for one week. That's what we're asking. That they go out there and say Paul Wellstone did this wonderful work and we need to keep his legacy alive by sending his successor to his seat. "
Here's the photo that started it all. In retrospect, it was probably wise of the Wellstone family to tell Dick Cheney that he wasn't welcome at the funeral.

Wellstone's death released a remarkable outpouring of sympathy from both parties. Peggy Noonan's warm, admiring essay is representative of the tone from a wide range of columnists and bloggers.

But Wellstone's awesomely tacky funeral has destroyed much of that bipartisan goodwill. Its ill-will has already caused Orrin Judd to write:

Out of respect for the wishes of the Wellstone family and the Democrat Party we too will abjure decency and treat the Senator's death as a purely partisan matter. In that regard, while we regret the manner of his departure, we would note that on the day he died the prospects for human freedom were improved in America and the world.
Expect to see more such writing as the anger from this ill-conceived event festers. Next time, bury Caesar, praise him--and then have the pep rally, the day after.

UPDATE: CNSNews.com is reporting:

The chair of the Minnesota Republican Party is calling on the state's television and radio stations to give the GOP equal time to campaign, given the partisan tone of Tuesday night's memorial for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, who along with his wife and daughter, perished in a plane crash last week.
UPDATE: Wellstone's campaign manager now says, "It would probably have been best not to have the election mentioned."

Gee, you think?



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