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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Names becoming politicians

--posted by Tony Garcia on 2/22/2006

I have said a few times with regards to Coleen Rowley that entering a political race makes you a politician and unless you are very careful you also lose your credibility on everything before you entered the race.

Rowley has been held up as an expert on the field of intelligence (and ethical decision making). Prior to her entering the political field it would be hard to question such laurels being thrown at her. After her behavior of late (here, here, here, here, here, here...you get the idea) her credibility as anything beyond a person seeking political office is gone. I even believe her whistleblower memo was an effort to make a name for herself with the possibility of running for political office in mind.

A great article in the Washington Post explains how Patty Wetterling has completed her transformation from public figure to party hack.
There was immediate speculation about what Mrs. Wetterling would do after she withdrew from the Senate race. The state's Democratic attorney general, and the frontrunner for the party's nomination for governor in 2006, asked her to be his running mate. When she had withdrawn from the congressional race almost a year before, she had also promised Mr. Tinklenberg unequivocally that she would not be a candidate for Congress. Much to the surprise of many Democrats, including friends and supporters, however, she announced she would re-enter the 6th District race. Her Republican opponents were delighted, as was the state Republican Party. Mr. Tinklenberg and his supporters are outraged, having worked months to build support and raise funds for his candidacy. He immediately declared he would stay in the race and made Mrs. Wetterling agree to abide by the party endorsing convention.

The result has been a profound deflation of Patty Wetterling's political reputation. Mr. Tinklenberg stated that "she is now just another politician." Republicans were even stronger in their criticism, and Democratic strategists in Minnesota and Washington are appalled at what could become a lost opportunity. Having contributed to her Senate campaign, Mr. Tinklenberg only half-jokingly pointed out that he may be the only candidate this year who is having his own money being used against him.
I think her decision to run in the 6th is a bad move and I hope it backfires for a number of reasons.

(1) Sweeping aside her word for personal political gain is politics as usual but a trend I would like to see undone. Wetterling, while wrong on most issues, had the opportunity to reverse the crooked politician stereotype. (BTW, being a partisan hack does not make someone crooked.)

(2) Backfiring on her will help to send a message to other "names" that wish to run for office...don't do it for your name alone. Neither Wetterling or Rowley are thought to have any measurable grasp on issues beyond their one narrow scope. While I am not very fond of "professional politicians" I feel that the average candidate should be more informed than the average person. I know, that is not a very high bar of "being informed", oddly enough neither of these women pass that low bar.

(3) Karma. Tinklenberg has made a number of comments about his own money being used against him. He took Wetterling at her word on two counts. He contributed to her Senate campaign and he started a campaign of his own. It is arguable that without Wetterling's word neither of these actions would have occurred. There has been sufficient time for Wetterling to make at least a gesture of reconciliation on this matter. (It is too late to get credit for this now!) She should have either returned the donation from Tinklenberg to Wetterling's campaign or made a similar contribution to his campaign.


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