People Political

We lost a good one

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Senator Paul Wellstone and his wife and daughter and three staff members and two pilots died in a plane crash today.

Their deaths are horribly tragic and my sympathies go out to their families and friends. But in these times, the loss is made doubly worse when you realize Senator Wellstone was one of few senators that opposed the resolution that gave President Bush what amounts to war powers:

Anti-war activists were conducting a three-day sit-in at his St. Paul office, even as his Republican challenger was pummeling him as wobbly on national security. For Sen. Paul D. Wellstone (D-Minn.), the Iraq war resolution before Congress presented a lose-lose proposition likely to anger voters he needs in his tight reelection bid.

But to Wellstone there was never really much of a choice.

The 58-year-old professor-turned-senator had built a political career on standing by his convictions, which included a decided preference for international cooperation and diplomacy over war. He was not about to abandon them now, he said on a recent morning, as he put the finishing touches on a speech he was about to deliver opposing the resolution that would authorize President Bush to use force against Iraq, with or without a United Nations mandate.

“Just putting it in self-interest terms, how would I have had the enthusiasm and the fight if I had actually cast a vote I didn’t believe in?” he asked. “I couldn’t do that.”

This man was a good one, and will be missed. As a person and as a senator.

From a purely political perspective, this tragedy puts the Democratic control of the Senate at risk. If the Republicans win control of the Senate, and they maintain control of the House, Bush will have unfettered access to as much power as he wants, to use as he wants. It will be next to impossible to control him and his cabinet at this point.

Serious, serious times.

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