Senator Paul Wellstone

Minneapolis, Monday, October 28

4:15 pm ? It would have been amusing if it weren’t so tragic. Washington pundits like CNN’s Jeff Greenfield and politicians like Sen. Orrin Hatch practically stumbled over themselves this weekend to say what a sweet, passionate man of integrity Paul Wellstone was, all the while walking on eggshells around any discussion of the political implications of his death. I just hung my head at the irony of seeing these men paint Wellstone as that rare politician who dared to vote his beliefs. As Sam Smith, editor of the Progressive Review, aptly put it: ‘The coverage given Paul Wellstone’s death illustrates that, for the corporate media, the only good progressive is a dead one.’ Sad, but apparently true.

Meanwhile, this weekend saw an outpouring of condolences and support for the families of the deceased from progressives across the country and around the world. Some wrote beautiful eulogies to Wellstone, many pondered the political fallout of his death, and discussion forums were aflame with speculation about both who might replace him on the ballot and the mysterious cause of the plane crash.

Here are a few Wellstone links that have come accross my desk since Friday:
? Paul Wellstone, 1944-2002: An Appreciation, John Nichols,The Nation
? America Has Lost a True Hero, Jim Hightower
? The Progressive Mourns Paul Wellstone, Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive
? Our Hearts Are Breaking from the Loss of Paul Wellstone, Rabbi Michael Lerner,
? Was Paul Wellstone Murdered? Michael I. Niman, AlterNet
? Wellstone for President, David Morris, AlterNet
? Paul Wellstone Dies in Tragic Plane Crash, Don Hazen, AlterNet

Memorial web sites:
? tribute site
? Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party

Discuss in Caf? Utne: People have started three discussion topics devoted to Wellstone’s memory, how to replace him, and whether or not he was murdered. (If you’re new to Cafe Utne, register here):
? Paul Wellstone is dead
? Who can fill Senator Paul Wellstone’s Shoes?
? Political assassination speculation

Around the Globe, Protesters Demand Peace
Hundreds of thousands turned out at peace rallies and marches around the globe on Saturday?from San Francisco, where organizers estimated the crowd at 50,000, to Washington, D.C., where estimates ranged from 100-200,000 marchers, to much smaller gatherings in Stockholm, Berlin, and even Baghdad. Visit our updated Anti-War Room for links to photos and stories.

Minneapolis, Friday, October 25

4:00 pm ?This is a dark day in American history. My senator, Paul Wellstone (D-MN), his wife Sheila, their daughter Marcia, three campaign workers and two pilots died tragically this morning in a plane crash outside the northern Minnesota town of Virginia. They were en route to the funeral of the father of state senator Tom Rukavina.

Wellstone was widely considered the strongest progressive voice in Congress. During his twelve years in the Senate he was a passionate advocate for the environment, peace, and social and economic justice. His first vote as a member of the Senate upon taking office in 1991 was against the first Bush administration resolution to bomb Iraq. His last major vote in Congress was to oppose the current Iraq war resolution.

This tragedy touches us here at Utne very personally. Many of us knew and worked with Paul, Sheila and Marcia over the years. Sheila was a tireless advocate for battered women. Marcia was a school teacher. ‘The whole Wellstone family was committed to the issues Paul fought for,’ says Julie Ristau, co-publisher here at Utne, who worked with Wellstone during his first term in office. ‘They really live their values.’

Jay Walljasper, editor of Utne, was a long-time acquaintance and supporter of Senator Wellstone. He had this to say in a recent article about Wellstone’s importance in American politics:
‘Wellstone’s reelection is important to hopes of turning back George Bush’s conservative onslaught-and not just because of his near-perfect progressive voting record and pivotal position in a deadlocked Senate. Through 12 years in the Senate and many more as an activist, Wellstone has pioneered a style of politics with lessons for any progressive who wishes to someday be part of a political majority in America. He brings a spirit of populism to electoral politics, emphasizing economic and environmental issues in a way that appeals beyond the usual liberal circles: to veterans’ groups, to voters in farm country, blue-collar suburbs, and mining and lumber and factory towns.’ Read more…

As Mary ‘Mother’ Jones said: ‘Pray for the dead. Fight like hell for the living.’ I’m sure that’s exactly what Paul, Sheila, and Marcia would want us to do.


Check back here for updates as this story unfolds.

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