They Came Not To Bury Wellstone

If any politician in America is an expert on vulgarity it must be Jesse Ventura, lame duck governor of Minnesota.

Ventura first won fame in the World Wrestling Federation where he wore boas and called himself “the Body.” While Minnesota’s chief executive, he moonlighted as a commentator for the extremely short-lived Xtreme Football League. Religiously devout people, he lamented to Playboy magazine in a 1999 interview, should be held accountable for preventing the decriminalization of drugs and prostitution.

“Organized religion,” he said, “is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers.”

So it obviously wasn’t the lack of religious content that was bugging Ventura last Tuesday night when he stood up and walked out of the Minneapolis “memorial service” for late Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone. (The Wellstone family had held a private funeral for the deceased senator and his wife at a Minnesota synagogue on Monday.) No, it was the utter vulgarity of the politics.

“Certainly to turn a memorial into a political rally, I found quite disturbing,” Ventura said.

Having previously indicated he intended to name a Democrat to serve as Minnesota’s interim U.S. senator while the results of the November 5 election were being certified, Ventura announced the morning after the memorial service that he had changed his mind. “All bets are off,” he said.

One of the first indicators that the Tuesday night event to be held in the basketball arena at the University of Minnesota was not intended to be a real “memorial” but a partisan rally came when the Wellstone family informed the White House they did not want Vice President Cheney to attend.

Their pretext was that Cheney’s Secret Service detail would disrupt the event. They did not express similar concerns, however, about the attendance of former President Clinton and former Vice President Gore, both of whom came with Secret Service protection.

The next indicator of the event’s crass nature came when the crowd booed Ventura, an Independent, and Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R.-Miss.), but cheered Clinton and newly minted Democratic Senate candidate Walter Mondale.

The event lacked solemnity, but not bratwurst. “The smell of hot dogs and onions wafted through the arena hallways as the crowd settled in,” reports the Chicago Tribune.

Even liberal news organizations reported on the oddly partisan nature of the event. “The memorial service seemed more like a political rally than a funeral, with the most impassioned political appeal coming from Wellstone’s youngest son,” Jonathan Karl reported on CNN.

In the middle of a speech by Wellstone fundraiser Rick Kahn, the arena’s Jumbotron flashed to Walter Mondale as the crowd chanted, “Mondale! Mondale!”

According to the New York Times, Wellstone’s youngest son led the crowd in shouting, “We will win!”

Minnesota Republican Chairman Ron Eibensteiner later described the memorial as “raw hardball political campaigning,” and called on Minneapolis TV stations that had carried the three-and-a-half-hour event without commercial interruption to give equal time to the GOP.

Why would the Democrats desecrate the memory of their hero by converting his memorial into a rally?

The same reason every Democratic senator voted that Bill Clinton was not guilty in the 1999 impeachment trial. The same reason the party backed Al Gore in his disgraceful recount demands after the 2000 election.

There is only one thing that matters to the Democrat elite today: political power. We have seen before, and we will see again, that they will pay any cost to keep it.