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Paul Wellstone

The Life of a Passionate Progressive

Bill Lofy

Publication Year: 2009

Paul Wellstone, we miss you. Few politicians, especially these days, are as willing to stand up and speak the truth as Wellstone was. In this era of flaccid rhetoric and pre-approved sound bites, he had the rare ability to ignite a fire in his audiences. Bill Lofy's excellent biography rekindles that fire and reminds us just how much politicians of Wellstone's honesty, character, and spine are needed---now more than ever. This book should inspire a new generation of voters and political leaders alike. ---Arianna Huffington, columnist and editor of HuffingtonPost.com "This book captures the vibrant spirit of my friend Paul Wellstone---the fierce commitment to justice that defined his life, and that shapes his enduring legacy." ---U.S. Senator Russ Feingold "Paul Wellstone was a great leader because he fused progressive idealism with a stubbornly pragmatic politics. Bill Lofy's book captures that dual commitment in his story of Wellstone's life, and also shows us the extraordinary human appeal that Wellstone emanated in his relationships with people in all walks of life. This book is an engaging read that also tells us a lot about the political practice to which we should aspire." ---Frances Fox Piven, author of The War at Home "This vividly written book captures the life and personal qualities of the late Senator Paul Wellstone. In so doing it provides an illuminating gloss on Max Weber's seminal exposition of the political vocation. It is a jewel of a book." -Fred Greenstein, Princeton University Bill Lofy's fast-paced and readable biography tells the inspirational story of one of the most compelling figures in the history of American politics---Senator Paul Wellstone. Yet Lofy's book is more than just the chronicle of Wellstone's life and political career; it's also an indispensable guide to what ails political life today. Readers politically inclined or not will find in its pages a handbook to the uncertain and often treacherous business of politics and a stirring example for living a courageous and honest life---whether as public servant or private individual.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

This book would not have been written without the support, advice, and encouragement of Professor Fred Greenstein of Princeton University. Fred served as my advisor for an independent study project that I originally planned to turn into an article about Paul Wellstone’s impact on politics. ..

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1. An Impolitic Politician

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pp. 1-10

On the morning of October 25, 2002, Senator Paul Wellstone, a liberal Democrat from Minnesota, was killed in a plane crash along with his wife, daughter, and three campaign aides. Later that day, Wellstone’s colleague Pete Domenici was called on to comment. In an interview on CNN, the conservative Republican immediately broke down in tears and was unable to continue. ...

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2. Growing Up an Outsider

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pp. 11-38

For someone who considered himself a Washington outsider even after he had mastered the system, Paul David Wellstone was born in the most unlikely of places—the nation’s capital. Born on July 21, 1944, at George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C., to Minnie and Leon Wellstone, he grew up in the Washington suburb of Arlington, Virginia. ...

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3. Acquiring a Political Vocation

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pp. 39-64

Wellstone received tenure in 1974 and spent the following sixteen years as the most unorthodox member of Carleton College’s faculty. In addition to meeting his teaching responsibilities, he led raucous and often illegal protests that at times violated even Saul Alinsky’s work-within-the-system radical principles. ...

Illustrations

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4. Faltering and Recovering

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pp. 65-90

On the morning of November 6, 1990, Paul Wellstone appeared at a morning press conference and committed the ‹rst of several postcampaign blunders. Visibly exhausted from the previous night’s celebration, he spoke disjointedly about his plans for the transition and then made a statement that he would later regret. ...

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5. A Successful Second Term

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pp. 91-112

By the end of 1996, Wellstone had established a level of credibility that seemed unattainable six years earlier. He had matured as a lawmaker during his ‹rst term and proved his durability as a politician by winning reelection decisively. He had built strong friendships among his colleagues and learned to pick his legislative battles wisely, ...

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6. Last Campaign

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pp. 113-122

Wellstone’s last campaign would be his most dif‹cult. Although he enjoyed the highest approval ratings of his career, polls showed that a clear majority was opposed to his decision to seek a third term. “He said he’d run for two terms and then out,” one poll respondent told a reporter. ...

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7. Last Days and Legacy

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pp. 123-134

Wellstone was killed just twelve days before Election Day. An investigation by the National Transportation and Safety Board would later conclude that the cause of the crash was pilot error, not bad weather. In the surreal aftermath of Wellstone’s death, his campaign advisers had little time to absorb the depth of the loss. ...

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Afterword

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pp. 135-140

It would be easy, recalling Paul Wellstone, to think only of endings. The plane crash that killed Paul, his wife Sheila, his daughter Marcia, and his staff members Will McLaughlin, Tom Lapic, and Mary McEvoy, ended six remarkable lives and Paul’s booming political career. ...

Selected Speeches

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pp. 141-158

Notes

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pp. 159-168


E-ISBN-13: 9780472024216
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472031191

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2009

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Subject Headings

  • Wellstone, Paul David.
  • Legislators -- United States -- Biography.
  • United States. Congress. Senate -- Biography.
  • Progressivism (United States politics).
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