Land of the Swedes and home of the knaves

July 19, 2006 by barbara

by barbara

We do not do political analysis here at the Clothes Line. We just hang up the linen which, in my back yard, flaps in the breeze over the compost pile. Hence the following.

Just so you know? Minnesota is in hot contention for this year's coveted mega-FUBAR award. The acronym stands for (bad word)ed Up Beyond All Recognition. If you've been following Minnesota politics in the past few weeks (and even if you haven't), it's pretty clear why we're in the running. Here's this week's cast of principal characters:

-Mike Hatch, Minnesota's pit-bull attorney general, now Democrat-endorsed in his run for governor.

-Matt Entenza, the poor-boy-makes-good Dem minority leader in the state House, who was Dem-endorsed as attorney general candidate.

-Steve Kelley, a state senator, who was narrowly defeated by Hatch for the governor endorsement.

-Bill Luther, a former U.S. congressman who, through the magic of redistricting and campaign nonsense, got the boot from Congress in 2000.

-Lori Swanson, an assistant to attorney general Hatch.

And this week's bit player:

-Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota's slickery-tongued Republican governor'"his consolation prize when Rove and Company jerked him out of the U.S. Senate race in 2002.

Things were perking merrily along until it came to light that Entenza had authorized opposition research a while ago. No biggie. However, his target was Hatch'"his supposed political ally. Still not a world-class biggie, though, because at the time of the research, it was not yet clear whether Hatch would run again for AG. Entenza had his eye on that prize and apparently was preparing to take on Hatch. But when the nature of the research surfaced in blogs, in the press, on the perfectly shaped and colored lips of TV anchors, Entenza did an "I don't know nuthin' 'bout researching your police record, Mr. Hatch" routine. One can only assume that all of this made Hatch go ballistic, and this FUBAR round was launched.

(PERIPHERAL NOTE, similar to seeing a stampeding rhino coming at you out of the corner of your eye: Entenza's wife is a highly-placed executive with a huge HMO. She has beaucoup bucks in stock options there. The AG office is in frequent contentious relationship with health care organizations. A big oopsy on Entenza's part, assuming potential conflict of interest bothers someone.)

There ensued relentless hammering on Entenza. A perennial losing candidate filed to run, ensuring that there would be a primary. This week, a mysterious, anonymous packet surfaced, including photocopies of huge, possibly questionable political donation checks written by Entenza and wife and items related to the opposition research on Hatch. Entenza looked in the mirror and saw road kill. So yesterday, six hours before the drop-dead hour for filing to run, he announced his withdrawal from the race.

Did someone say race? Oh my dog! The rumor mill was flinging goodies into the blogosphere all afternoon. Given all the jockeying for position, I kept wondering when Barbaro's name would surface as a contender. The campaign filing office must have looked like a half-off sale at Macy's. When the door finally closed for the day (and for the year), a total of five candidates had filed to run for AG.

Chief among them are:

- Steve Kelley, the convention favorite who lost the governor endorsement to Hatch. Potential irony: Hatch loses the gov election and Kelley wins the AG seat.
- Bill Luther, a congenial pol, who has not sought political office since his ouster from Congress in 2002.
- Lori Swanson, Hatch's right-hand woman in the AG office.

You can see where this is going, can't you? The undercurrents could suck us all out to sea. The opposition researchers pulled an all-nighter last night. The wheeler-dealers were in each other's faces, on each other's Blackberries, in and out the window. And Karl Rove and the Republicans are drooling on each other's shoulders as they do the schadenfreude polka.

I'm not supposed to say negative things about politics in general and Democrats in particular. After all, how will Democrats win seats if we don't circle the wagons and cling to each other? How, indeed?!

You know, I love grassroots. It's why I loved Paul Wellstone. So what would Wellstone do? I think he would stare in slack-jawed amazement at what is going on in stoic, staid Minnesota. I think he would shed about one tear. Then I think he would grab these people by their lapels, look up at them and say, "What the hell are you THINKING? Are you even thinking at ALL? Sit down. Now. We need to talk."

I didn't know this was going to end up being a lament about Paul. But I guess it is. (sigh)

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