Mondale: “Peasants! Don’t Make Me Turn This Country Around!”

About twenty years ago, I read a fascinating profile of and interview with Gus Hall, longtime head of the Communist Party of the USA and perennial CPUSA presidential candidate. 

The thing that struck me about the profile – which appeared in the Strib but was syndicated, if memory serves, from the NYTimes – was that it was set in the CPUSA’s New York headquarters, described as a shabby, run-down office in a crappy part of immediately-post-Dinkins-era Manhattan.  The interviewer described Hall – then in his eighties – and the other commies at the interview as seeming like ancient veterans who gathered to pine for the good ol’ days – with the added hilarity reading the ancient Stalin-cuddler Hall testifying to his belief in and zeal for the CPUSA’s political relevance.

I thought about that, reading a WCCO piece on a smoochfest with Walter Mondale the other day.  Mondale, the former Attorney General, Senator, Jimmy Carter’s veep and Ronald Reagan’s second speed bump, spoke to the “fellows” at the Humphrey Institute, a branch of the U of M that is an academic arm of the DFL in all but name; he basically told all of us political kids to get off his lawn.  Esme Murphy is the reporter.

And he is not amused:

 The 81-year-old Mondale talked of his displeasure at the lack of civility in Washington. Back in the ‘70s, Mondale says, the divide wasn’t as great, and animosity was left for the Senate and House floors. Mondale said, “As Tip O’Neil used to say, ‘politics ends at six o’clock,’ and it did; we would all go to parties together.”

Sorry your social scene petered out, Fritz.  But if you recall, the state of this nation was really really awful back when O’Neill and his little club of drunks were picking at Nixon’s remains, and walking over Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

But Mondale didn’t just chalk up the level of discord to the lack of a decent cocktail hour. He reserved some sharp barbs for the cable talk shows. He blasted “the cable shows’ unremitting diet of poor manners and gross simplification” of key issues.

Right.  Far better to have things as they were in 1974, when Walter Cronkite and Dave Moore told people what to think, and all of the peasants knew their place – on their knees, thankful for a Better Minnesota – and that was that.

And he decried the death of moderate voices on both sides of the aisle. On a recent visit back to Washington, he said, he chatted with Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Mondale said, “Specter told me there are no moderates anymore.”

The funny part?  Mondale would consider himself a “moderate”.

It wouldn’t be a mainstream Minnesota media politics story without a reference to Larry Jacobs, the Keyser Söze of Twin Cities politics:

At the end of the luncheon, the Humphrey Institute’s Professor Larry Jacobs said the spacious room would soon be remodeled to include a tribute to Mondale.  A perfect idea to bring together two icons of such similar views and who shared the same position on our national stage.

There was a  huge difference, of course.  While both presided over a post-Depression Minnesota where Democrats and Republicans differed hardly at all, Humphrey rose to prominence at a time when Democrats were still Americans first.  Mondale was no screeching yippie – but his political peak came when the DFL, and the larger Democratic Party, believed that America certainly could be a great country – but certainly not until the whole country mirrored their every belief.

CORRECTION:  Wow – coulda sworn Mondale was Governor for a while.  My bad. 


9 thoughts on “Mondale: “Peasants! Don’t Make Me Turn This Country Around!”

  1. Mitch, I don’t think Mondale was ever Gov, although he had been State Attorney General. I never did care for the guy or his politics. I wish guys like Mondale and Arne Carlson would just quietly go away.

  2. I’m sorry, “Peasants”? coming from the guy who says some people shouldn’t be allowed to vote? ok, incipid elitism is fine for some apparently.

  3. Mondale…ummm Fritz… a debate with Norm Coleman in 2002 told the Senator “you don’t respect life”. Norm is a pro-life person who lost two children in infantcy. Class act you crazy old coot. Now go away to the nursing home.

  4. I’m sorry, “Peasants”?


    coming from the guy who says some people shouldn’t be allowed to vote?

    I never said any such thing. Ever.

    I said that trying to get every single uninformed disinterested person to the polls come hell or high water isn’t necessarily the most noble or democracy-preserving goals there is. That’s a very different thing.

    ok, incipid elitism is fine for some apparently.

    Perhaps, but not me.

    At any rate, would you care to comment on the actual post?

  5. “incipid elitism” WTF?????

    Do you mean to say “insipid” (which makes no sense)?

    Or do you mean to say “incipient” (which doesn’t make much sense either)?

  6. We must go easy on Mr. Mondale. After all, he is a living legend in our one-party state. He’s used to fawning coverage from a sychophantic media and can’t really be expected to react normally to the give-and-take of politics after a career that was largely take-and-take.

  7. ” . . . some people shouldn’t be allowed to vote?”

    See, that’s the difference between a noble, enlightened Progressive and we dank old Conservatives.

    Conservatives happen to think felons, children, and illegal aliens SHOULD NOT be entitled to vote. Just one of our many foibles, no doubt.

    Progressives drive the ACORN bus bribing derelicts with cigarettes.


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