November 14, 2002


DROWNING IN LAKE WOBEGON: For most of my life I've been a huge, huge, fan of the humorist and storyteller Garrison Keillor. I have fond memories of listening to his stories on long car trips with my family, and I consider him right up there with Bob Dylan, Thomas Friedman, Paul Westerberg, and the Coen Brothers in the pantheon of Geniuses From Minnesota. But a pair of recent columns Keillor wrote for Salon about Minnesota's new senator, Norm Coleman, have caused my respect for the great humorist to nosedive.
In the first column Keillor makes some valid points about Coleman switching parties, allegiances, and religions seemingly at at will in order to gain political office. That's fair enough. But then Keillor, with no evidence whatosever, insinuates that Coleman has had numerous mistresses, alleging that he has "an interesting family situation, to say the least," without elaborating and without offering any evidence. Then, in order to rebut critics who called the first column mean-spirited, Keillor wrote a second column slamming Coleman even more viciously. And while he first accuses Coleman of "coming within an inch of calling Wellstone an agent of Al-Qaeda," Keillor then himself comes within an inch of accusing Norm Coleman of murdering Paul Wellstone. "I personally don't believe he [Coleman] had anything to do with the crash of Paul's plane," he says, "plenty of people suspect he did. I don't." While nutjobs like Ted Rall have made similar insinuations that Bush, et al, murdered Wellstone, this is the first accusation I've ever heard that Coleman did it. ("Plenty of people"? Has Keillor been hanging out with Rick Kahn?)
As I've said, I believe Keillor is a genius. He even wrote a memorable Salon column last year lampooning Gov. Jesse Ventura as "Larry." But these attacks on Coleman are far, far beneath him, and I honestly don't know if I can ever take anything out of his mouth seriously again- how is this any different from those crazies who accused Bill Clinton of murdering Vince Foster? Yet another Minnesota Democrat fails to honor Paul Wellstone's legacy...
(Thanks to the blogger Spinsanity for pointing all this out.)

Posted by Stephen Silver at November 14, 2002 01:15 PM
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