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Of wakes and flag-waving

So, was the Wellstone memorial too political?

In my tradition, one of the things you do at wakes is vow to carry on the work of the deceased. It’s OK to be really emotional about that; emotion is part of what a wake is for. Emotion represents respect for the dead. It shows you cared about him, or about her. I would expect that, at a politician’s wake, his close friends would want to make strong statements; that they would exhort the attendees to “keep his legacy alive.”

On the other hand, if some random Senator from Iowa showed up and started making campaign speeches, that might be kind of tacky. You don’t really want strangers at your memorial. (I may be too hard on Tom Harkin, here. Perhaps he was a close friend of Wellstone.)

The New York Times says that “the crowd put away any pretense of the nonpolitical.” Maybe so, but if there’s one thing that’s obvious about Wellstone it’s that politics were his passion. He cared about doing good. How could those eulogizing him not talk about something he cared so much about? To ignore politics would be to ignore an important aspect of his life.

That makes it hard to tell those who were sincere from those who were abusing the event. I suspect there were some of each. As always, we live in a flawed world full of flawed people.

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