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As Democratic Congress Opens, A Tribute To The Man Who Isn't Here: Paul Wellstone

As the new Democratic Congress convenes,
it is a good moment to remember what the
Congress can be, at its best, and what politics
can be, with leaders who embody a passion for
idealism and justice.

When I was a young man working for Senator
Lloyd Bentsen, the great giant and great man
of the Senate was Senator Philip Hart. He was
held in enormous and universal respect, in fact
the Hart Senate office building was named after
him.

Phil Hart was a hero of the World War II era,
who stood for integrity, honor, idealism and
purpose in the Senate, and elevated the entire
institution, every day, by his presence. His wife
Jane Hart could have lived a life of wealth and
privilege, but chose instead a life of principle and passion.

What a team they were! Phil Hart gave real
meaning to the overused phrase: "distinguished
gentleman". He was brilliant, scholarly, and
principled to the core with the woman he loved,
Jane, fighting by his side for social justice,
actively protesting the Vietnam War.

There was a famous story about Senator Hart
in Rolling Stone, with the tltle that says it all:
"The Saint Of The Senate."

He was.

Every so often the United States Senate gives
the nation a model for courage, honor, principle
and true leadership. Senator Hart was one,
Senator Paul Wellstone, the man who should
be with us today, but sadly isn't, was another.

I received a nice note today from my friend Mary, whose site is
marymacelveen.com, in which she reminded me of Paul Wellstone and how
special and wonderful he was.

Senator Paul Wellstone could be inspiring,
irritating, brilliant, provocative, strong, gentle,
kind, and aggressive but he was always a rightful heir to being the
conscience of the
Senate.

He was.

The great Catholic theologian Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once
wrote that every minute of our lives should be treated as an extension
of God's creation.

That is how Paul Wellstone lived his life, and
made our lives better and nobler because of
his presence. Every morning Paul would wake
up and charge to his mission of the day, to
help the poor, feed the hungry, end the killing,
bring honesty to our government and bring
nobility and idealism to our politics.

Every hour that Paul Wellstone was with us,
the world got a little bit better.

For those of us who worked hard for this day,
when the Democrats regained control of the
Congress, when democracy was revitalized
in America, there are many things we can think
about today.

I suggest we think about Paul Wellstone, who left us far too soon, but
reminds us always that power means nothing unless it is put to use for
good purpose, that victory is meaningless, unless it is a victory for
right, and good, and the human spirit.

We are all better, because Paul Wellstone was
with us. We will be better tomorrow, if we think
of him today, and remember him always.

As Democrats assume control of Congress, if
Paul were with us today, he might be going to
the parties or enjoying the celebration, but
whatever he would be doing today, he would
be doing with passion. He would whispering
in the ears of great men and great women who are now leading our
Congress, and speaking
out publicly as a voice of conscience with his
calls to action.

Thanks Paul, we miss you so much, but we
remember you so well, and because we do,
we are all a little bit better.