- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2002

A creepy arrogance
Will Saletan, writing at www.slate.msn.com, was astonished by the tone of the "memorial service" for Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone, held Tuesday night at the University of Minnesota.
"'Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning,' Wellstone declares in a videotaped speech shown on the overhead screens. 'Politics is about improving people's lives.' But as the evening's speakers proceed, it becomes clear that to them, honoring Wellstone's legacy is all about winning the election. Repeating the words of Wellstone's son, the assembly shouts, 'We will win! We will win!' Rick Kahn, a friend of Wellstone's, urges everyone to 'set aside the partisan bickering,' but in the next breath he challenges several Republican senators in attendance to 'honor your friend' by helping to 'win this election for Paul Wellstone.' What can he be thinking?" Mr. Saletan writes.
"There's a salutary practicality about many of the liberal cliches repeated and applauded tonight. But there's a creepy arrogance about them, too. The ceremony's closing speaker, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, says Wellstone 'never took himself too seriously' and 'never had to proclaim his decency.' Yet tonight, the men and women who purport to represent Wellstone's legacy are taking themselves quite seriously and constantly proclaiming their decency. 'We can redeem the sacrifice of his life if you help us win this election for Paul Wellstone,' Kahn tells the crowd. Somewhere, Wellstone must be turning on his cross.
"Above the stage hangs an immense cubic scoreboard. During basketball games, it's electrified and illuminated from above. Tonight it looms just above the stage lights, blank and unlit. A man has died. This is no time to keep score."

Unabashed cynicism
"First, Democrats in Minnesota used the death of Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone in an attempt to silence the Republican Senate candidate, former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman," Fred Barnes writes at the Weekly Standard Web site (www.weeklystandard.com).
"Then, they turned a widely televised memorial honoring Wellstone into a partisan political rally for electing ex-Vice President Walter Mondale to Wellstone's Senate seat. And now, they're planning to make Mondale as inaccessible as possible in the closing days of the campaign, so he can ride the emotion of Wellstone's tragic death in a plane crash to election victory on November 5," Mr. Barnes said.
"Cynical? It sure is. But it shows how desperate Democrats are to keep control of the Senate, which they currently hold by the slim margin of one vote. Even outside Minnesota, Democrats are citing Wellstone's death as a reason for stepped-up Democratic campaign activity. In New Jersey, Republicans accused Democratic Senate candidate Frank Lautenberg of saying voters should honor Wellstone by electing a Democratic Senate. In Iowa, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Democrats are more active and energetic in the week before election as they grieve for Wellstone."

Speaking of perjurers
"As letters implicating [California Gov.] Gray Davis in graft were released on Monday, Davis was busy campaigning with Bill Clinton an appropriate echo to the letters' charges," George Neumayr writes at www.americanprowler.org.
"Davis called the impeached former president, accused felon, and disbarred lawyer the 'best president in his lifetime.' Clinton, for his part, declared California a progressive utopia under Davis.
"'Gray Davis has broken new ground every single year, and California is leading America toward an environmentally responsible future,' Clinton said in Inglewood. 'There's not a state in the country that has done more progressive things when it comes to education, when it comes to health care, when it comes to balancing the needs of working families, when it comes to the rights of working people and women and minorities and gays than the state of California.'
"Meanwhile, Garry South, Davis' lowlife political adviser, tried to bat down charges from Mark Nathanson that Davis sought to benefit from the California Coastal Commission's corruption. A member of the Willie Brown machine in the 1980s, Nathanson used the commission to extort money from permit applicants. He says that Davis, as an assemblyman and state controller, was a partner in some of his schemes. 'The governor is not going to have an argument with a convicted felon and admitted perjurer,' says Garry South.
"Boy, what contempt for perjurers. Doesn't South know that his boss is campaigning with one?"

Bad move?
"It looks like President Bush will visit Minnesota on Sunday to campaign for [Republican Senate candidate Norm] Coleman," John J. Miller writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"There's no clear rationale for the trip: He's not there to fund-raise and he certainly doesn't need to help voters focus on the race. His presence, however, will allow Democrats to raise questions about whether it's an 'appropriate' visit. They will wonder publicly about why Bush didn't find the time to attend Wellstone's memorial service [Tuesday] night, but did find time to engage in partisan politics a few days later," Mr. Miller said.
"Forget about whether this is a valid claim. It hardly matters: The allegation will be made, the media will cover it, and it will distract attention from the differences between Coleman and [Democratic candidate Walter] Mondale in the very limited amount of time they have to square off.
"If Norm Coleman is going to become Minnesota's next senator, next week's election will have to be about him and Mondale not about Wellstone, and not about Bush."

Trial lawyers rule
"It used to be that the trial bar was content to tell Democratic senators how to vote. But now its orders appear to extend to how senators can run their own re-election campaigns," the Wall Street Journal says.
"Consider the recent, and strangely abrupt, change of heart by Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu. She had agreed around September to partake in a TV ad campaign for Citizens for Asbestos Reform, a coalition of victims, attorneys and businesses. But suddenly, two weeks ago and just as the ads were set to launch, the senator bailed," the newspaper said in an editorial.
" So why did Ms. Landrieu bail? We called her office for two days, but couldn't get a call back. But if you're looking for coincidences, we'd note an item two weeks ago in the Louisiana Trial Lawyers Association newsletter characterizing the ads as a pro-business plot to limit the right to sue. That's the tort bar's way of putting out a red alert, and it just happened to coincide with Ms. Landrieu's disappearance."
The newspaper added: "There may also be the matter of, ahem, trial-lawyer cash. In the past few years lawyers and law firms have been Ms. Landrieu's biggest patrons, contributing more than $520,000. Her list of contributors includes Fred Baron, the king of trumped-up asbestos lawsuits. Perhaps they made the senator an offer she couldn't refuse."

Kansas poll numbers
With less than a week to go before Tuesday's election, Democrat Kathleen Sebelius holds a 9-point lead over Republican Tim Shallenburger in the race for Kansas governor, the Kansas City Star reports, citing its own poll.
The survey, conducted by the newspaper's marketing research department, showed Miss Sebelius leading Mr. Shallenburger 46 percent to 37 percent, with 15 percent undecided.
Two third-party contenders, Libertarian Dennis Hawver and the Reform Party's Ted Pettibone, each received 1 percent.
In the race for Kansas attorney general, Republican Phill Kline was leading Democrat Chris Biggs 45 percent to 33 percent, with 22 percent still undecided.
The telephone poll of 602 likely voters statewide was conducted in conjunction with the Market Research Institute from Oct. 23 through Tuesday. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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