Tevlin: The sorry state of our political debate

  • Article by: JON TEVLIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 27, 2014 - 12:15 AM

I’d better just start by apologizing to all the politicians I’m going to offend. First of all, what I’m about to say is way out of line, and does a disservice to my readers, who have come to expect much, much more from me.

I’m sure my words will be taken out of context by a few zealots who have previously disagreed with my opinions, but that is to be expected when you are willing to stand up and be noticed.

It’s yet another worn and tired tactic of destruction from the far left, and the far right, and the vast middle. Besides, the idea I’m about to express was formed long ago, long before this fabricated sense of political correctness was invented to hold ideas opposed to ours prisoner.

That said, I will admit my choice of words in this particular case could be more artfully delivered, and I’m sorry that you are going to be sensitive and take offense where none is meant. I’m sorry that your feelings are going to be hurt.

The following words will be offensive and inappropriate, and I am sincerely sorry for them. I promise it will never, ever happen again:

You are a bunch of idiots.

All of you; State Republican Party Chair Keith Downey and State Democrat Chair Ken Martin and Sen. Al Franken and congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn and Chris Fields and everybody else who is avoiding talking about real issues by insisting people continually apologize for stupid things they did or said years ago.

Your tactics are loopy election distractions and we are on to you, and it’s getting really, really tiresome. Look in the mirror. You are the reason people hate politics and politicians.

You.

Let’s rehash this apoplectic apex of apology.

On Sunday, Hagedorn apologized for blog posts he once made, posts that were reported on waaaay back in 2009. Hagedorn wrote that two U.S. Senators were “undeserving bimbos in tennis shoes” and wrote about “John Wayne’s wisdom of the only good Indian being a dead Indian.”

OK, pretty dumb. Really dumb. Dumb in 2009, and still dumb in 2014.

The comments were resurrected by media outside Minnesota, and thus Hagedorn was forced to face his ignorance once again when DFLers called on him to apologize. Hagedorn did, kind of, if you call “I do acknowledge that some of my hard-hitting and tongue-in-cheek commentary was less than artfully constructed” an apology.

The next day, Republicans held a special news conference to demand that DFLers who demanded Hagedorn apologize now force Franken to apologize for jokes he made as a comedian with “Saturday Night Live” many, many years ago, jokes for which he has already offered apologies.

Whew.

“Sen. Franken may have apologized before for making jokes about sexual assaults about women, but in my opinion you can’t apologize enough,” said Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover. Especially during election season, she might have added.

Oh, and Franken also apparently held traffic cones up to replicate breasts two years ago, caught on a six-second video.

This proves, I assume, that Franken believes all women have plastic, cone-shaped breasts. Or something.

Was it something I would do as a joke? Come to think of it, I probably would have when I was 14. It’s not exactly what I’d hope for from my sitting U.S. Senator, however.

Republicans sat on the video, obviously knowing that someone in their party would say something ludicrous and they could dredge this up in response. You can never underestimate the ability of a politician to say something they regret.

During their news conference, which mostly served to remind voters once again of Hagedorn’s statements, GOP Deputy Chair Chris Fields hovered nearby. Fields recently had to apologize for using comedian Robin Williams’ death to promote a candidate.

Tacky.

Meanwhile, reporters’ questions about an actual issue confronting Republicans — their crazy nonsupport-support of Minnesota Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald — were dodged by Downey, who claimed the news conference was the wrong venue for news.

I didn’t know there was a proper venue for traffic-cone boob conversations until now.

We are now in the season of perpetual apology. Everyone seems to be in a contest to see who can be the most childish. May the best party win.

 

jtevlin@startribune.com • 612-673-1702

Follow Jon on Twitter: @jontevlin

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