Candidate, Interrupted: Mark Dayton and his Enablers

Powerline looks at this year's Democratic primary race for governor of Minnesota, where the front-runner looks to be former Senator Mark Dayton, the heir to the Dayton's retail fortune whose brief Senate career was memorable for the time in 2004 when he evacuated his DC office. In the very latest example of the "what if this were a Republican?" level of MSM coverage, it appears that Dayton's very real flaws are going unreported, even as they are open secrets among the Minnesota elite: Dayton's Millions

At a charity auction in 1994 or so I won the opportunity to have Dayton take me and a friend to lunch at the Minneapolis Club. The lunch occurred toward the end of Dayton's tenure as the Minnesota state auditor. At lunch we argued politics and found nothing on which to agree. The lunch was extremely unpleasant because Dayton seemed to be unable to disagree agreeably. Dayton nevertheless put me on his Christmas card list for roughly the next five years.

Over those five years Dayton used his Christmas cards to discuss the dissolution of his two marriages, his entry into rehabilitation for alcoholism and related therapy issues. His psychiatric challenges were no secret to the many people on Dayton's Christmas card list, including virtual strangers like me.

The Star Tribune reported in its news story this past December: "People who have worked closely with Dayton or within the [Minnesota Democratic Party] said they have long known the former senator struggled with mental health issues." Later the story adds: "Opponents -- and even some supporters -- have long whispered of his possible struggle with mental illness."

Well, thanks. Where, one might ask, was the Star Tribune during Dayton's Senate campaign? It wouldn't have taken much digging to report this story during the 2000 Senate campaign.

It also wouldn't have take much digging to report the story during Dayton's six-year term in office, when Dayton provided the Star Tribune with many occasions that made the story relevant. The Star Tribune's December story noted, for example: "Dayton said neither his depression nor his alcoholism affected his political decisions, including those to close his Senate office in 2004 when he -- and no one else -- perceived Washington to be at an immediate risk for terrorism."

In other words, once Dayton himself sought to defuse the issues regarding his fitness for office by raising them with a friendly columnist, the Star Tribune jumped right on the case. The Star Tribune's performance on these basic issues regarding Dayton's fitness for office has been weak, along with that of the rest of the Minnesota media.

Of course if Dayton were Republican, we would know only two things about him: (1) he's rich (2) he's a crazy drunk. But, that's the funny thing about politics in the US. If you are a Democrat, and you prove yourself to be a reliable vote in favor of progressive policies, then your flaws will be hidden from view, while those of your opponents will be broadcast from the rooftops. I mean, if you are, say, running for Senate from Illinois, your opponent's ideological allies will think nothing of suing in California to open up your divorce records and then broadcasting them far and wide. Didn't John Kerry get divorced? And Ted Kennedy? And Chris Dodd? Funny, how no one has thought to do this to them.

It gets worse. Powerline points to an interesting analysis by their colleague Mitch Berg, who has taken a careful look at campaign finance disclosures for a couple obscure yet well-funded advocacy groups that have taken to running scurrilous ads against Minnesota Republicans. Turns out that the major (as in millions of $$) source of funds come from associates and family relations of Mark Dayton

So “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” is essentially a front for a group of unions and, to the tune of millions over the past four years, Mark Dayton’s family, friends and ex-wife.

They are paying millions of dollars to advertise – and hiding it from casual view behind two layers of astroturf.

Mark Dayton is trying to buy the election, but he’s taking great pains to make sure you don’t know about it.

Again, imagine if this were a Republican. We really don't have to. Remember the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? They were attacked by virtually every MSM outlet with a White House pass, with muckrakers poring over their campaign finance reports looking for Rovian fingerprints. Or, how about Sarah Palin and the "ethics complaints" that have been serially filed against her? They are loudly trumpeted on the filing date, while their dismissals go out on little cat feet.

Even better is the amazing tale of John Edwards and Bunnie Mellon, which is told in Andrew Young's The Politician. The 95 year old Mellon simply gave Edwards $6 million for his campaign, most of which he used to pay for the strenuous efforts he took to hide his pregnant mistress. Now, you might be thinking, hey, I thought the limit on individual donors was $5,000! Hah! That's the limit for hayseeds from Alaska who carefully save their receipts from Neimans (and still get accused of "stealing" clothes). If you are Mr. Two Americas, that $6 million is a "gift" that no one - not the media or the FEC - need worry about. Lucky break. If Edwards is really lucky, no one will accuse him of elder abuse, which would certainly happen if Mellon had direct heirs, which she doesn't.

It's a fallen world, and finding fatally flawed people in politics is as easy as finding ants at a picnic. But, if you mouth the right platitudes about social justice and equality, your flaws will remain a private matter, unless you self-destruct so wildly that even your powerful father can't help you. A former member of the Ku Klux Klan will find his past (heh heh) white washed, so long as he votes the right way, while Republicans will receive no forgiveness for the most innocent steps across the media's racial tripwire. A man who killed a woman while driving drunk will be the Lion of the Senate, while a Republican with a 30 year old DUI will suddenly face wall-to-wall press scrutiny the week before an election. And, best of all, a billionaire can head the Democratic ticket in 2004 (along with his multi-millionaire trial lawyer running mate) and then castigate his opponents as being "rich" even though he has enough net worth to buy and sell them 20 times over. I could go on all day, but you get the idea.

Americans often wonder how so many flawed people end up in politics. The fact is that many of them go there seeking protection. So long as they vote the right way, that protection is always available.

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