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Senator Paul Wellstone, who was killed in a plane crash this afternoon, was a professor of political science at Carleton College in the early 1980s, when I went there. Even then he was a charismatic figure, with a cadre of student followers, the “Wellstoners,” who tried to stir up the usual leftist trouble, organizing the local farmers into coops or persuading the cafeteria ladies to strike.

Wellstone’s introductory poli sci course was the most popular on campus. Its core text was Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky, and it was agitprop. This bothered me more then than it does now. Wellstone did openly what other professors did snarkily and on the sly. With him you knew where you stood.

In the Senate he was much the same way. Anti-corporation, sure; but he also refused corporate campaign contributions. Never saw a tax cut he liked. Advocated a seven-year freeze on defense spending. Voted the true-blue anti-NAFTA AFL-CIO line. Always wrong, in short; but forthright, and incorruptible. Few on the left or right were like him, and I’m sorry he’s dead.

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About Aaron Haspel

  • Eric Olsen

    Very important input Aaron, thanks.

  • Paul Fraker

    Eric, did we overlap at Carleton? Somehow I think we did. (i’m class of 1979).

    I am in between hedge fund jobs and have been on the net a lot. I was linked to this obit on Glenn Reynold’s site.

    HOpe you’ll get in touch if we in fact share the Carleton connection.

    Best regards Paul (pj) Fraker.

  • Eric Olsen

    Paul, Aaron Haspel wrote this, he’s the Carleton man. I’d check with him on his site. Thanks, EO

  • I won’t pretend Paul Wellstone was my kind of Senator. But at least he didn’t try to blur the distinctions and disemble about what he believed – he was always forthright, as Aaron says. He also seemed like a nice person. I remember seeing some of his commercials during his first campaign – humorous and un-pretentious (I wasn’t in Minnesota, but they got some wider play because of how creative they were). It’s no wonder so many Minnesotans liked him.

    I would have been happy to see him lose in November, but I’m unhappy that he, his wife, one of his daughters, three members of his staff, and two pilots are dead.