Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Standing outside the fire

The 1995 flick The American President was a liberal utopia which pitted above-the-political-fray idealistic Democrats (including the President himself) against nasty and divisive country club Republicans seeking to undermine the Dems' noble causes. The Prez, played by Michael Douglas, was an unabashed member of the ACLU who was encouraged by his administration to use his high approval rating to further a liberal agenda. Among said agenda was a tough-as-nails gun control bill as well as legislation to thwart the imminent threat of global warming by enacting a law reducing fossil fuel emissions by 20%.

At the beginning of the movie, the following exchange took place between President Andrew Shepherd and Lewis Rothschild (played by Michael J. Fox), the President's senior domestic policy advisor.

Lewis: Sir, we may never have an opportunity like this again. Let's take this 63 percent (approval rating) out for a spin and see what it can do.

Shepherd: We can't take it out for a spin, Lewis. We need it to get re-elected.

While this is merely dialogue in a movie, it is sadly indicative of politics today. Once a politician gets so firmly entrenched in the "high likeability" category they are loathe to move off of it.

Welcome to the world of Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Ever since her resounding 20-point victory in the 2006 election, Klobee has always played it safe. But as she's about to conclude her first term, certain left-of-center bloggers have begun to implore the Senior Senator to take her approval rating "out for a spin."

Four months ago, after Klobee's breezy endorsement at the DFL convention, blogger Jeff Rosenberg of the now defunct MNPublius encouraged Klobuchar to spend her political capital to help Governor Mark Dayton obtain a proverbial blank check the DFL regain control of the Minnesota State Legislature. Surely with her clout, Klobee could go into some of these local swing districts held by a Republican and assist in putting a DFLer over the top. Rosenberg also begged groveled encouraged Senator Klobuchar to come out against the two ballot initiatives (Voter ID & Marriage) which Minnesotans will vote on in November. Not surprisingly, the pleas went unanswered.

Then this past Tuesday, former Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman (he's a scurrilous "buh-law-ger" now) also lamented how Senator Klobuchar has failed to user her clout, specifically when it comes to the aforementioned ballot initiatives.

With the election just four weeks away, grumbling has begun among activists who have been campaigning hard against passage of the amendments — one that would outlaw same-sex marriage, the other that would require citizens to produce a photo ID for voting. Both amendments are favorites of Republicans trying to amp up the conservative base and divide the opposition. And both, at this point, seem likely to pass, in part because there is confusion among many Democrats as to how they should vote (Is Nick implying "many Democrats" are ignorant? - ed.).

Confusion that might be clarified if a popular, charismatic, persuasive Democratic leader carried the fight to the Democratic base and rallied the anti-amendment vote.

Sounds like a role that the late Senator Paul Wellstone would have been willing and able to fulfill. But Klobuchar? She's the proverbial kid on ice skates who won't head out to the middle of the rink. Why risk falling down when one can cling safely to the rink's side boards?

Come January, it appears Klobee will be riding off to Washington on her unicorn in her Saturn, en route to another six-year term.


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