Jewish World Review Nov. 4, 2002/ 29 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Patron Kennedy Saints


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Decorum dictates not speaking ill of the dead. But decorum never saw the likes of Sen. Paul Wellstone's heirs, subjects and principalities conducting a combination funeral/pep rally. You know you've crossed a proprietary line when Gov. Jesse Ventura, a man who hailed from the WWF, departs in protest. Booing the attending Republican dignitaries was intermixed with inducting Mr. Wellstone into sainthood.

Conservatives assisted in the Ascension. Fred Barnes' sappy tribute in the Wall Street Journal said Wellstone's book, The Conscience of a Liberal, shows Wellstone worthy of crowning glory for sticking to his principles. Barnes should be so kind to Pat Buchanan, as far off the planet as Wellstone, but equally principled.

Mr. Barnes, other traitorous genuflectors and the obsequious Democrats will surely drive historians daft. Wellstone descriptions at the revival/memorial service were akin to Bill Cosby's take on his parents' kindly treatment of his children, "These are not the same people I grew up with!" I hunched over keyboard for nigh onto 7 days to generate but one Wellstone tribute, "He never hosted Saturday Night Live."

Mr. Wellstone's views were slightly left of those of the unclothed at Woodstock. His thinking was about as clear as deadheads in the post-Jerry Garcia era. Barnes, senators, and other commentators have said so, but now offer effusive praise. Is this any way to run a democracy? John Adams thought Jefferson was a spendthrift and wrote as much in his journals and letters. Franklin, Washington and Jefferson drove Adams bonkers on the slavery issue and he wrote so. Current civilized hypocrisy is despicable.

These two-faced tributes enable Democrats' fašade of piety. The Great Society failed, but Bobby Kennedy hangers-on flourish. Mr. Wellstone always droned on about his recreation of Bobby's tour of the South and referenced Let Them Eat Promises, Kennedy's Pulitzer-prize winning book from the 1960s, in every speech he gave.

Democrats have no current leadership. Hillary and Bill, are, respectively, mud and jerk. Tired remnants of the Kennedy era are their meager offerings. Fritz Mondale, Jean Carnahan, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, and Frank Lautenberg can drop into Minnesota, Missouri, Maryland, and New Jersey with no objection from right or left. Their media and academic constituencies applaud gleefully. Republicans try and drop in a Rick Lazio for Giuliani and the media hoots drive his numbers down below Ms. Mud's.

I don't buy the ethos or nobility of Wellstone or other 60's remnants who rely on factless emotion and flawed reasoning. Wellstone had perfected the liberal methodology for notoriety, regard, and invincibility, even from Republican opponents. In August 1999, Wellstone cited in his floor speech opposing welfare reform a Washington Post story about 4 children living with their grandmother and relying on federal breakfast and lunch programs. Wellstone taunted Republicans for starving this family.

For a man just canonized in St. Paul, Wellstone was a bit loose with truth. He failed to disclose that the mother of the 4 children was a crack addict who lived on the streets, bunking occasionally at her mother's house. Wellstone left out that the grandmother was also a recovering addict, paying cash for her two-pack-per-day cigarette habit. Wellstone also did not reveal that a responsible father was raising one of the children who was just visiting Grandma when the Post reporter called.

When welfare reform, passed despite Wellstone hyperbole, bettered recipients' lives, the Clinton administration claimed credit. Wellstone, completely wrong on welfare reform and deceptively so, had no contrition or media accountability.

Republicans don't do such fact frolic stories. Their story would involve children of parents whose jobs were lost in the Pacific Northwest logging industry to goshawk protectionists. The moral: the family survives without the government and still home-schools. Media and pundit ears are tin when it comes to work ethic and fierce independence. Whiners going hungry because of crack cocaine and two packs of Marlboros a day - there's a story worthy of a eulogy and votes.

Republicans will never have the memorial services, the praise or the piety of a Wellstone. Getting out of the way and letting folks solve their own problems is not the stuff of tours, books or gripping Senate speeches.

The Wellstones of the country see the half-empty glass and whine about it. They want programs to fill the glass. Republicans see the glass as half full and expect gratitude for that. Actually, Republicans say, "Why is the glass twice as big as it needs to be?"

Republicans are problem solvers, not country bashers. They couldn't get a wake/rally going. Their vice president was turned away from the Wellstone gala/wake. Mr. Cheney is owed apologetic visits from the ghosts of these saintly Democrats past who attempt to hold onto their seats, in life and death, doing whatever it takes. Truth and decorum be damned.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.

Up

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© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings