Not long after I moved to Minneapolis I was looking for something to do and I decided to contact the Boy Scouts of America. For those of you who don't know, I'm an Eagle Scout, and throughout the next three blog posts, I'll explain why I'm not a Boy Scout any longer.
The BSA put me in contact with several local scout troops and I became a merit badge counselor and advisor. That first Autumn in the city, I volunteered to teach a canoing class at a local weekend camping trip. There were several dozen local troops there, and the classes were booked up and it was a lot of fun.
At dusk after we put away all the equipment, I needed to wind down so I went out to the parking lot and sat on a fence rail. Sitting on the hood of a partially rusted station wagon was a balding guy in a t-shirt and jeans. He wasn't particularly notable. He had a beard and his arms were thick with muscle, obviously in good shape, but nothing really different than an average guy. We shook hands and talked for a little while about the camp and the kids and whatnot. Being new to Minnesota and not being too particularly interested in politics at the time, I didn't recognize that this man was Paul Wellstone, current Senator and most liberal member of Congress.
He was genuinely nice and didn't talk about himself until I figured it out. He was just an average guy with a family connection to the Scouts. He never asked me if I voted, what my stances were, what I wanted him to do in Washington, or any of that. When he found out that I was a Vet and had been in the Gulf, he was very interested. He asked me about the V.A. and whether I needed a hand with anything. I didn't, but I believed it was an honest concern from a man who meant it.
I went to that camping trip without a good opinion of “Liberals” and with a bad opinion of politicians in general. I left with an opinion of Senator Wellstone as one of the bright shining lights in the country, a real man who lived by his morals.
Years later, when he was killed in that plane crash I cried. I went to the memorial, and when it was reported on television and radio so completely wrong I wanted to rip the tongues out of some conservative liars. My take on the memorial will have to wait for another post, sometime in the future, however.
That same Fall, I went out to a local cigar bar, Club Ashe with new friends, including a girl I was dating at the time. One of the group was a woman named Lisa – a tall blond with a perfect body and piercing blue eyes. She was also quite a dancer and the live music was loud, the place was crowded and the atmosphere electric.
Into this scene came a tall handsome man who confidently started dancing with Lisa on the dance floor despite the fact that she already had a partner. Then, this man grabbed her and wouldn't let her leave the dance floor, practically forcing her to dance close to him. Finally Lisa wrenched herself free and returned to the table followed by this domineering man. He was yelling loudly over the music in a New York City accent.
He'd decided that Lisa would go home with him and have sex. He was telling her that this is the plan and the drunken fool had the audacity to assume that ordering her to do it would make her willing. One of the men, Steve, and I stepped in between this blathering fool and told him to leave her alone, to which he responded, “I can do what I want. Do you know who I am?”
“No, I don't,” I said. “I don't even care.”
“I'm the mayor. I'm the goddamned Mayor.”
He really was the mayor, but not of Minneapolis. He was the mayor of St. Paul. Now he's a U.S. Senator.
I heard a story of when he went to he Science Museum of Minnesota for a photo op and was a total dick to everyone there, demanding the star treatment and joking about defunding the museum because it didn't cater to his political supporters. His name is Norm Coleman and he's one of the most conservative members of the Senate.
Oh, he's supposedly happily married and was at the time of the bar incident.
So, Steve and I dragged the mayor to the front door and threw him out onto the sidewalk, the whole time he was screaming about us not knowing who he was and how sorry we'd be.
A tale of two politicians.
- rick, believing there's a difference.