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Columns > Andy Miller - Real True Confessions With Padre Pienbique

Published: 2006/10/23
by Andrew Miller

Would You Lie To A Politician? (An Accidental Part 2)

Real True Confessions With Padre Pienbique
As the hottest summer I can remember turns into a crappy, wet, grey fall, life rolls on fairly predictably: The Vikings are middle of the road, Bushs popularity hits the kind of low expected for a second-term president entering lame duck season yet the beer is as good as always.
No matter how good the beer is, though, any residual fun is trumped by the impending political season. The endless run of commercials by all parties involved negates any hope for a half-way decent debate on issues that might, and I say might sparingly, actually weigh upon the public. Last night I saw a commercial paid for by the Republicans that attempted to link a female Democrat to the Taliban. No shit. And this was for the lowest of the national seats, the House of Representatives.
As if holding a seat in Congress is worth calling a rural Minnesotan wife and safety advocate a terrorist. (For the record, its not: The Wikipedia site states that the annual income for a Congressperson is $165,200. Most of that will be pumped back into the campaign machine to prime the war chest for the next election, which is never more than twenty-four months away, a blink of the eye in politician years. Usually, a member of the House begins to campaign for the next election as soon as they take the oath of office. Thus, we can safely assume that the high re-election rate — over 90% — for Congressmen and -women is due to the fact that they are paid to campaign. This would be one of those ugly facts about American politics if it didnt keep them from doing worse things, such as writing laws nobody needs and legislating taxes that nobody wants to pay. (In short: Gridlock is good!)
I could almost be of the opinion that voting only encourages politicians, but if you dont cast a ballot, you cant complain. So be it.
Along with everybody else, Ive given the network news (and their horrific coverage of nothing) the boot in favor of a little doobie and Jon Stewart. According to a comparative study between the major networks newscast and The Daily Shows content, the University of Indiana found that they both have roughly the same coverage of any given days events. Although I dont see this as a boon for Comedy Centrals elevated status as a source of information, I cant help but feel vindicated: I knew in my heart that Peter Jennings wasnt allowed to reveal anything more interesting than his Canadian accent while telling me that — you guessed it — Congress had spent more of the money it didnt have, to legislate lives they dont lead.
And that would be that, as I was writing my column. No more asinine political talk to bore the shit out you. In fact, the next paragraph I had written started out like this:
Ass wipes in cheesy suits aside, theres something about the autumn that always makes me sad. Summer, my favorite season by far, is over and it seems to have taken all the youthful spirit of life with it when it leaves. Despite this, fall always seems to be a creative time; almost as if the fun summer brings begins to ferment into a vintage of ideas that begin to take shape as I slow down for the impending winter hibernation.
Except, who has time for a column on the virtues of creativity when the lead-in shtick from paragraph two not only ends up being a harbinger to the main story for the local news, but becomes the drama surrounding my editor, good friend and Rice County chair of the Democrat party, Erick Sommers? (Please note the spelling, with a German ck on the end of his first name, as opposed to Eric with a c or a common Minnesotan spelling of Erik with a k, as so many Norwegians do. Believe it or not, this orthographical detail is actually important.)
Let me fill you in the details:
The bit about the supposed Taliban-supporting Democrat has taken a fine twist: Michele Bachmann, the Republican behind the terrorist commercial, has now accused the Patty Wetterling (Democrat opponent) campaign of not only being the root of all evil, but of implementing (God Forbid!) dirty tricks into her own bid for Congress.
It seems that a Wetterling volunteer, Jon Bohn, had sent a saboteur deluxe email to the Republican campaign headquarters looking to undermine Bachmann.

Reprinted here from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for your discrimination:
_The campaign manager for DFLer Patty Wetterling fired a field organizer Tuesday after Republican Michele Bachmann alleged a ‘dirty trick’ in the Sixth Congressional District campaign. _
_Bachmann said one of her field staffers received an e-mail Monday from a volunteer named ‘Erick.’ But the e-mail heading indicated the message was from ‘Jon Bohn,’ a Wetterling employee who joined the campaign about a month ago. _
_’I have not had a chance to volunteer yet this year but I see we are trailing in the latest poll,’ the e-mail read. ‘Is there a plan to get us back ahead? We need to win this race and keep power in the house. Thanks, Erick.’ _
_In a letter to Wetterling, Bachmann said it appeared Bohn was ‘attempting to gain access to our campaign and our campaign strategy.’ _ (Mpls Star-Trib, Oct 17)
As you can see, the fate of nations was thrown out of balance by a not-quite-MacGyver-worthy disguised email meant to gain the trust and ultimately dupe the entire Republican voter base.
It doesnt take much to discern from the Woodward and Bernstein-esque reporting that the Star-Tribune — and the Republicans — were on to something hot. Maybe too hot. After all, he did enquire whether there was not only a plan to get us back ahead?, but hinted at the (possible left-wing-pinko hidden agenda?) need to win this race. Not to mention the age-old trick of killing the victim with kindness by masquerading his intentions by signing Thanks, Erick.
This is where the fun starts. One of the sharper knives in the Bachmann campaign drawer followed their instincts for sabotage and simply followed up on the email that stated in its head that it was from one Jon Bohn, yet signed, Erick. Although the Bachmann campaign suffers from more terminal Christian/crazy/farther-to right-than Hitler zealotry than most Republican crusades, such buffoonery wasnt going to go unnoticed. I mean, the average paranoid sleuth can tell the difference between Jon and Erick; but can the Democrats on the other side do the same?
If you guessed yes, then you guessed wrong.
Immediately following the release of this story, Erick Sommers (personal friend, chair of the Rice County Democrat Farm-Labor Party and probable trouble-maker) began to receive some interesting voice mails, and later (I assume after he got out of bed long enough to answer his cell when it rang) phone calls with private caller IDs that inquired, or asserted that (and this is for real):
1. A call from a registered Democrat who called on Erick as the Rice County Chair to let him know that this kind of dirty stuff is wrong. She also let him know that the rash of Republican campaign sign vandalism the opposition suffered earlier in the season was also unacceptable. (This is supposing that Erick was behind some midnight movement to destroy the Republican manifest destiny by removing less than a dozen campaign sings from peoples lawns as if he didnt have worse crimes to commit while hanging out with me.)
2. A prominent Democrat (meaning that she holds a real position) let him know that he causes much more trouble than hes worth. After Erick asked her if she had read the whole story, thus noting that there was no real Erick, but that someone named Jon Bohn was behind these shenanigans, she reiterated that the dubious email was signed Thanks, Erick. Keep in mind that the Erick Sommers I know signs his Rice County Democrat inter-party emails Fuck You, Erick Sommers. (Or maybe not; but I think he should.)
3. A Democratic stalwart let Erick know that because the spelling of Ericks name (with that incriminating extra consonant in his moniker), he ought to be careful with his less-than-elevated position.
4. And there it is: Since the offending dork used a fake name to supposedly gain access to the Republicans campaign secrets, the true identity of the mole MUST be their own county chairman, Erick Sommers. Ta Da!
5. This bit isnt really worth the Old Style this is written on if the supposed goats own father didnt call him asking why his name is in the Fargo paper. After explaining to his Dad that like so many of the party faithful that called his phone with certain blame, the true name of the culprit was Jon Bohn, not Erick, nor Erik, nor Eric, nor Jesus! Can this be for real?
Yeah. Thats how this goes. Some campaign chump gets a bogus email from the other side, the authenticity of the emails source comes into question, and BAM! Theres a story in the paper — spelling out the name of the true culprit — yet someone else who is utterly unconnected to the plot gets singled out by several people who are supposedly on the same side.
Now this tiny vignette becomes a story covered statewide, without merit, basis, or really a point. If nothing else, the only truth discovered is that anybody who wants to be a somebody will be happy to trade dedication, integrity and hard work for a cheap shot to personally get ahead and damn the cost. With yo-yos like this working on each and every campaign across the country (keep in mind that most — but not all — of the players in this story are peons at best) there is zero hope that a candidate can ever be forthright about their ambitions, let alone positions.
Keep in mind, that everything, and I mean everything, that utilizes a loose-knit levels of authority (that means you too, festival promoters!) to dole out orders, yet washes their hands of the deeds carried out by (in)subordinates, is doomed to experience a million distractions. Be it the Jon Bohn kind while attempting to get ahead for no reason, or just the garden variety ass-kisser, there is a lesson here: Every part thats put in place is one more thing to go astray.
Good luck voting. Ill do it, just to spite myself. But I havent seen one reason to feel anything good about anybody, anywhere, for any reason. This shouldnt insinuate that there arent plenty of candidates from all sides of the aisle that mean what they say; there are. But whats to trust or love or whatever when then the lowest toadie on a personal crusade can influence and sidetrack so much of nothing?
May God bless America. Really, I mean it we need it.

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