Whose Interests?

Published: April 15, 2009

By Jim Lichtman
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What’s the definition of a public servant?

You would think that it means an individual who is elected or appointed to serve the public.  But apparently, that’s not a definition embraced by former Republican Senator Norm Coleman.

Last Monday, (April 13) a three-judge panel in Minnesota certified that Democrat Al Franken was the victor in the 2008 Senate race against Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

No sooner was the ruling disclosed than Coleman announced that he would appeal the decision to the state’s Supreme Court.  This would mean yet another delay, all perfectly legal, brought about by Coleman’s right to take the results of an election up the legal food chain.

“After a statewide recount and seven-week trial, Franken stands 312 votes ahead,” the New York Times wrote.  “He gained more votes from the election challenge than Coleman, the candidate who brought the legal action.”

I can understand the time, resources and personal commitment any individual makes toward serving their constituents.  But after recounts and a verdict by three state judges, whose interests is Coleman really serving by appealing?

Clearly, his own.

And that brings up another question:  If Coleman is willing to do whatever it takes to challenge a certified election to pursue his own interests, what else is he willing to do in the name of the state he says he wishes to represent?

“Norm Coleman and his attorneys claim they want to ensure no Minnesota voter gets left behind,” The Worthington Daily Globe, which endorsed Mr. Coleman, wrote Tuesday in urging him to quit. “Instead, they’re trying their best to leave Minnesota behind,” the Times reported.

The state’s Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty is left caught between Republicans in Washington who want to keep Coleman in the Senate and the voters in his own state who are tired of the whole mess.

“A lot of Minnesotans have just grown weary of it,” Mr. Pawlenty said. “[They] can’t understand why it’s taken so long, they are frustrated by it, they would like it to get wrapped up.  It shouldn’t take a year. The election was in November.”

My question for the governor:  If you’re truly concerned about voters, why not certify the election, as you can, and declare Franken the winner?

The only answer I can see: Pawlenty could decide to make his own run for the White House in 2012 and obviously doesn’t want to upset Republican leadership.

So, whose interests is the governor focused on?

As long as elected officials continue to put their own interests ahead of the people they claim to represent, the business of politics will continue to trump the business of the people.

One of the few republicans to come forward was former Republican Congressman and current MSNBC host, Joe Scarborough who said, “Seriously.  Norm, I like you.  You lost, okay?”


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