Concerning the huge fuss about the politicized memorial service for Paul Wellstone, Sam Heldman managed to say what I’d been feeling in remarkably few words:

I hope that if I die (and all signs suggest that I will someday), my friends and colleagues will gather in a big party a few days later to laugh and smile together, and to get each other pumped up to work on the things that were important to me and are important to them. Anybody who thinks such behavior is unseemly will be unwelcome at my party.

One caveat here, and not an unimportant one. The crowd booed both Trent Lott and Jesse Ventura. While I’ve never had a good word to say for either of them, booing at a memorial service is enormously rude. Not rude enough to justify Ventura’s childish threat to appoint a non-Democrat for the lame-duck session, but — as William Burton says — plenty rude enough to be ashamed of. It’s not entirely clear what the organizers could have done about it, but it wasn’t to anyone’s credit.

That said, the notion that the service somehow broke a truce on campaigning is a little hard to swalllow. Newt Gingrich was already out there, lying in full throat about Mondale’s record. Joshua Micah Marshall nailed Gingrich on this here and here.


TBOGG points out that when Hillary Clinton was booed at the memorial service for the police and firefighters killed on 9-11, Limbaugh, Drudge & Co. were delighted. As usual, outrage depends on whose ox is being gored.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: