Consider yourself recognized, Trunk. You called it first. You’re right about Lillehaug too; but before he can be a judge they’ve got to get a Democratic president.
The Trunk’s comments on Paul Wellstone’s funeral arrangements are not merely personal. The Trunk was no doubt recalling how Wellstone got his big break in politics. When Wellstone received the Democratic nomination to challenge Senator Rudy Boschwitz in 1990, he was relatively unknown. As his views and his persona both became better known, he was widely regarded as a goofball. However, he ran a populist, “cute” campaign that was the model for Jesse Ventura’s effort in 1998. Still, as election day approached he was a distinct underdog. A week or two before the election, Wellstone sent a letter to more or less every Jew in Minnesota which attacked Boschwitz, implied that Wellstone was a better Jew than his opponent, and concluded by urging its recipients to support Wellstone, “a Jew you can be proud to vote for.” Wellstone’s letter enraged some of Boschwitz’s Jewish supporters, who sent a responsive letter to the same mailing list. This letter pointed out that Wellstone (unlike Boschwitz) had never played any part in Minnesota’s Jewish community; it may also (I can’t now remember) have questioned whether Wellstone was a practicing Jew at all. Wellstone then collaborated with the local newspapers in turning the Boschwitz letter (Rudy did not write the letter but did, as I recall, know about it) into a major cause celebre. The controversy over Boschwitz’s “Jewish letter” was widely credited with tipping the balance of the election in Wellstone’s favor. You had to study the fine print in the newspaper accounts very carefully to glean the fact that Boschwitz’s supporters were responding to a Wellstone letter that implied that Boschwitz–a devout man who was also, as I once heard Benjamin Netanyahu say, one of the most important supporters of Israel in the United States–was not a good Jew. The story was reported in such a way that the vast majority of voters never even heard about Wellstone’s letter. Anyway, this is how Wellstone got his start in politics, and this is why the eulogies to his wonderful integrity leave my cold. Trunk will correct me if my memory of these events is inaccurate in any detail.
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