It was the Republicans that tried to cheapen Paul Wellstone's life by dishonoring his death. It was the right-wing media, not the friends and family who spoke at the memorial or the people who came to it, that seized an opportunity to use a tragedy for political gain ~ Senator Al Franken in his book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" (pub. 2003)
A news story sighted on the Yahoo home page today, with the decidedly not innocuous title "Wellstone effect for Kennedy?" states that "Key conservative voices have begun to charge in the day after Sen. Ted Kennedy's death that Democrats are inappropriately politicizing the senator's death, his memorial and his legacy".What they are really warning us of is that we should expect false charges and feigned indignation from their side of the aisle in the coming weeks as Democrats continue to push healthcare reform.
They did the same thing in 2002 when Paul Wellstone (D-MN) tragically died, and it netted them a Senate seat. Why wouldn't they use the same vile underhanded tactics again?
Certainly no one should be surprised that the man is dead one day and they are laying the groundwork for the partisan attacks to come. The question is what can the Democrats do to head off this pre-announced smear campaign? It won't make a bit of difference whether or not Democrats decide to name the bill in honor of Senator Kennedy (as Senator Byrd has suggested).
And it won't matter whether or not we withdraw our calls for Governor Patrick to sign a bill changing state law so that an interim Senator can be appointed to fill the vacant MA seat (which would be a horrific tactical mistake). We must not give in. We must not back down. The Republicans will attack regardless.
I don't know what strategy can be used by the Democrats to deflect these charges - aside from simply calling them out on it - but Democratic strategists need to get proactive on this immediately. We can't let them get away with using Senator Kennedy's death to derail healthcare reform. They politicized Paul Wellstone's death and Minnesota was stuck with Norm Coleman for 6 years. How many more years will reform be delayed if the Democrats don't push back aggressively against Republican fabrications?