by Charley James –
Although I’ve lived in Toronto for going on two decades, Minnesota was my last state of residence in the US, so it is where I’ve voted since moving here. Reading on-line editions of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, coupled with having friends – some since high school – who still live there, it’s easy for me to keep up with home state politics.
In a state known for squeaky clean, Lake Woebegon-like politics, Sen. Norm Coleman is the poster child of slimy political stunts, self-serving manoeuvring, and kow-towing to corporate campaign donors.
He was narrowly elected to the Senate in 2002 after incumbent Democrat Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash during the campaign – a sad irony because Wellstone was first elected in 1996 barnstorming the state in an battered, old, school bus. Now, Coleman is embroiled in a state-mandated recount because the election results in his fight against Al Franken fell within 0.5% of a tie.
How slimy is Coleman?
Besides demanding that Franken forego the recount even though precious few votes separate them and the law requires it, Coleman and his surrogates are attacking everyone from poll workers to Minnesota’s Secretary of State Mark Ritchie with lies about vote count shenanigans, being untrustworthy and practically criminal behaviour. When Republican lies are disproven – sometimes by the very people who started them – Coleman conveniently ignores reality and goes on with his smears.
Well, what can you expect? Coleman was first approached about running for the Senate by Karl Rove.
Typical Coleman Crappola
This week on The Rachel Maddow Show, Ritchie fired back at the Senator. He noted that, as the elected Secretary of State, it is his job to take the jabs and smears “but Sen. Coleman has no business attacking the integrity of election judges around the state, many of whom have been volunteering for decades without a hint of wrongdoing or impropriety.”
Now Coleman and the national Republican Party are flying in some 100 GOP lawyers to peek over the volunteer’s shoulders as Minnesota’s 87 counties recount the Senate vote. But while much of the nation is aghast at what Coleman is doing, for people in Minnesota his smarmy representation is nothing new.
For example, in March 2007, Coleman introduced legislation to kill the Defense Travel System, a program to automate Defense Dept. travel purchases, which spends roughly $5.5-billion annually for travel. Shortly after filing the legislation, Coleman received a generous contribution from CEO Marilyn Carlson Nelson of Minneapolis-based Carlson Companies, owner of Carlson Wagonlit Travel. Its Government Travel unit provides lucrative services for numerous federal agencies. Moreover, over the years, Coleman has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from other Carlson Companies executives.
As a constituent, I wrote objecting to his measure to bring efficiency to travel purchases by the federal government. Weeks later, a form letter showed up in my e-mail saying, in effect, go stuff yourself.
He backed President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security, telling me in a letter I wrote to him at the time objecting to the scheme that Americans can better take care of their future than the government. As the stock market crash amply demonstrated, had Social Security been privatized as Coleman wanted, the nation’s elderly would be even worse off now than they are.
He told me in another letter that the Patriot Act is an important way to protect Americans from terrorism, saying that people not involved in nefarious activities have nothing to worry about. Uhm, it turns out we all have a lot to worry about as Attorney General Michael Mukasey proved again a few weeks ago by allowing FBI agents to investigate anyone for any reason.
I stopped writing to Sen. Coleman once I realised all I was receiving in return were Republican talking points, the same ones The White House shares with Fox News every day. By comparison, when I write to my other senator, Amy Klobuchar, I receive a thoughtful reply that includes a rationale for her position. I don’t always agree with her but at least she explains why she is supporting or opposing some piece of legislation.
Coleman merely spits in my face.
Friends in Minnesota tell me that the smart money in the recount is on Franken who carried the urban Hennepin and Ramsey counties and their surrounding suburbs by wide margins as well as counties in the traditionally heavy Democratic-voting Iron Range, which includes Duluth. The state and the US Senate would be well-served by ridding itself of another self-serving toady who, in his own quiet way, is the Ted Stevens of the Midwest.
Articles by Charley: