Marc Ash: Terror On the Hill
Terror On the Hill
By Marc Ash
t r u t h o u t | Commentary
Sunday, 10 November, 2002
A Republican reader of ours called in yesterday and asked, "You don't really believe that Paul Wellstone was murdered, do you?"
What could I say to him? He asks what I ask, what you ask -- what every one of Wellstone's colleagues has asked themselves.
Terror is funny that way, it eats at the heart, intimidates the soul. Officially the crash that killed Wellstone, his wife, his daughter is viewed as an accident, but every member of Congress, their staffs and families, can do the math.
They know full well that Wellstone had crossed over the line. Wellstone had done what each one of them knows they dare not do - challenge the power brokers. They know that this man was willing to step right up in the face of the most powerful and ruthless people in the world and say, "No, you will not run roughshod over the community."
They know he's dead. They know his political opponent, Norm Coleman, a man hand-picked by those who Wellstone threatened, has conveniently risen to power in his place. Filibuster, anyone?
The crash itself has slipped quietly away. Not a single report of the circumstances surrounding the crash has come. We have no NTSB reports, no expert analysis no hard questions inconveniently raised prior to the election that would sweep the right to control of the entire federal government. Instead, the story has been pushed aside by news of glorious victories by those who oblige the powerful.
There were warnings, of course. Tom Daschle, that pesky obstructionist. managed to outflank the Republican leadership for a time and seize control of the Leader's office. He got a gift of deadly anthrax. Patrick Leahy, that radical from Vermont, made the unwise choice of opposing right-wing judges. His anthrax warning was likewise delivered.
Then there's the Mel Carnahan story. The former Missouri Governor opposed John Ashcroft for a US Senate seat, and subsequently died in small plane crash. Don't worry about widow Carnahan; she's out of the way now.
Wellstone was different, though. He was a wrestler; he let it be known that he would challenge the status quo head on. He would stand by his beliefs. While others seemed to heed the warnings, Paul Wellstone did not.
There is some historical precedent on which to draw; the death of Robert Kennedy in 1968 led to the ascension of Richard Nixon. Kennedy had campaigned, in part, on a platform to end the Vietnam War. To understand the ramifications of his death and Nixon's rise, go to the Vietnam memorial and look at all the names added after 1968. The assassination of moderate Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 led to the rise of the Israeli right-wing. To understand the ramifications of that, see your morning paper.
The precedent set by the death of Wellstone and the subsequent ascension of his opponent Coleman has the gravest of implications. The two men espoused diametrically opposed ideologies. The shift from Wellstone to Coleman is as dramatic as any the US Senate has ever seen. It is a stark and immediate reversal of fortune ushered in by the grim reaper.
The classic horror film, "The Shining" opens with a child haunted by premonitions of violent death. He sees blood in rivers washing down hallways and faces of those long since dead. He keeps repeating over and over a word that no one understands: R-E-D-R-U-M. Only when the ax comes crashing through the bathroom door does the meaning of this word become all to clear, as it is viewed scrawled on the wall, reversed in the mirror.