Paul Wellstone

Left without a manufactured scandal or over-hyped gaffe to talk about these past few days, the media circus has turned its attention to matters of a higher order: campaign semiotics.

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The Idealist

The bomber carried balloons. They were silver and purple, and when he stepped inside the parking garage, they flitted and danced around his head—obscuring his face, as well as his intentions. It was October 2008, just after 4:30 on a Wednesday afternoon, and the workers in the office tower above the garage in suburban St. Louis were still at their desks. Only surveillance cameras saw the man with the balloons as he hurriedly walked to the parking space marked “654,” knelt down, and placed a wicker basket next to the driver’s side door of a late model Acura TL.

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Ezra Klein reminds us that Paul Wellstone died eight years ago today, with a link to his tribute. It's worth reading, as is a remembrance that TNR published a few days after Wellstone's death: In March 1977, The New Republic ran a short dispatch about a protracted labor dispute in North Carolina. The author noted the basic injustice of the situation (over 1,500 textile workers had voted to organize a union, but the company was refusing to negotiate) as well as its apparent hopelessness (the company, a notoriously successful union-buster, could drag out litigation for years).

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Inside Out

Gambier, Ohio—Ohio's U.S. Senate campaign offers an excellent preview of what this fall's midterm elections will be like: Everyone in the race wants to be an outsider, everyone pledges to break with politics as usual, and everyone is talking about jobs. Those running against Washington include Republican Rob Portman, even though he was elected to Congress in 1993 after working for the first President Bush and then held two high-level jobs in George W. Bush's administration.

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In 1981, Representative Jim Ramstad thought his political career was over. Seven months into his first term as a state senator from Minnesota, Ramstad found himself in a jail cell in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His trip had started out innocently enough. The young pol had gone to Sioux Falls with members of the Minnesota Vikings football team to raise money for youth sports. But a fun night with friends turned sour quickly.

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