November 07, 2002

The Other Coleman

Nick Coleman is not to be confused with Norm. He's a St.Paul Pioneer Press columnist who is spared the title "most obnoxiously leftist columnist in the Twin Cities" only by the existence of the Star/Tribbune's Doug Grow. His stances are generally as stultifyingly simple-minded as they are condescendingly pedantic.

But he has his occasional insights:

A lot of DFLers still call [Norm Coleman] a traitor. But they would be better off asking themselves what might have been done differently.

It does no disservice to either man to note that, in a way, Norm Coleman and Paul Wellstone were fellow spirits. Wellstone will always be revered as a DFL martyr and he was, in truth, beloved by the party when he died. But it wasn't ever thus. Wellstone and Coleman came from different philosophical backgrounds, but they both rejected the stodgy DFL that had calcified by the 1980s (Wellstone used to talk about starting a third party) and they each represented new energy the DFL desperately needed.

Some of the smarter DFLers have noted the party's capacity to feed on its own. For you who are not Minnesotans - the DFL's organization is designed to give special interests an extraordinary amount of power. And these interests - zealots in many cases for causes far enough left to think Wellstone was too conservative - are ruthless in expunging all heresy from the party.

Coleman - Nick, I mean - goes on to nail the result on the head:

Remember those campaign ads that tried to embarrass Coleman by showing him endorsing Wellstone at the 1996 DFL convention? I think they backfired. They were supposed to demonstrate that Norm Coleman was a turncoat. But maybe they also revealed that the DFL had turned its back on one of its most promising leaders.

Today, there is much sadness among Democrats. Two long-in-the-tooth DFLers Mondale and Moe are defeated. And two of the party's brightest stars have been lost.

One is dead. The other is senator-elect.

How many promising candidates has the DFL pushed away? Current St.Paul mayor and former state senator Randy Kelly is persona non grata among most St.Paul DFLers. Former mayor candidate, councilman and now county commissioner-elect Jerry Blakey eventually switched to the GOP - the DFL had no room for an afro-american who was prolife,pro-business, and who grew to reject a lot of other DFL sacred cows.

So consider both of the Colemans. You can learn a lot - no matter what party you're in.

Posted by Mitch at November 7, 2002 09:08 AM