Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Mason Bails On Emmer: File This Under “Rat-&@#ers Leaving A Sinking Ship”

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 13, 2010

This little bit of news is most interesting:

A top consultant who helped Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman win elections says he has left the campaign of GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.

That would be Tom Mason.

And who is Tom Mason? Let valued FDL commenter (and longtime DFLer) Sara explain:

By the way PW — did you notice that Tom Mason walked out on the Emmer Campaign? I always laugh at the mention of Tom Mason’s name, it reminds me of that fantastic 1990 Wellstone ad, where he taps the BMW in the Boschwitz staff parking area, and says “nice car” — that was Tom Mason’s car. Just the name makes me laugh. For those not into ancient DFL symbols and all — Tom Mason managed Rudy Boschwitz’s campaigns in 84 and 1990 and again when Boschwitz got a return match against Wellstone in 1996 — and he ran Coleman’s campaigns in 2002 and 2008. Mason is the author of the strategy of turning Paul’s Memorial Service against the DFL in 2002 in the wake of the plane crash. Nothing I like more than hearing on MPR that Mason, who was running Emmer’s campaign this year, has decided to sit this one out.

Ah, yes. In other words, Tom Mason is very likely the reason you’re reading this right now.

Let me explain:

Remember how Atrios and Kos got their first big recognition in the mainstream press? It was when, a few bare weeks after Tom Mason got the media to lie about and crap all over the Wellstone Memorial, Strom Thurmond had his 100th birthday celebrated on the Senate floor, and Mississippi Senator Trent Lott — the same guy who the Mason-spun press held up as a martyr at the Wellstone service because he may have got a few boos that didn’t make it onto TV microphones — talked about how much better off America would have been if Thurmond had beat Truman in the 1948 presidential race:

“I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had of followed our lead we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

What of course went unsaid by Lott — but was perfectly understood by Lott’s target group of racist listeners — was that Thurmond ran on a segregationist ticket.

And the same news media that, a few weeks earlier, had erupted in a coast-to-coast, Mason-orchestrated, lie-packed firestorm against the Wellstone memorial almost before it even happened, either said nothing about Lott’s remarks or essentially nodded in tacit approval.

Then Atrios, Josh Marshall, and the rest of the nascent prog-bloggers got to work.

Day after day, hour after hour, they hammered away at this. Slate’s Timothy Noah posted an audio clip from NPR of Thurmond saying the following words in 1948:

“I want to tell you, ladies and gentleman, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the Nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.”

Atrios was on fire, continually pointing out the decided lack of reaction of the mainstream press compared to their eager quickness to push scandals (real or not) involving Democrats. He posted pictures of the 1948 Democratic sample ballot in Trent Lott’s home state of Missisissppi, back before the racist Dixiecrats hadn’t all jumped ship as Thurmond would and join the Republican Party. Atrios also passed along commentary from Digby and a link from the ADL documenting Lott’s connection to the racist group the Council of Conservative Citizens, and castigated the conservative bloggers tying themselves in knots defending Lott.

Eventually, the mainstream press finally did start to give the story some of the firestorm-like coverage it had instantly given the smears of the Wellstone memorial event. But that happened only after Karl Rove decided that this would be a good way to oust Lott as Senate Majority Leader and replace him with Bill Frist, who was even more willing to be a Bush/Cheney/Rove rubber stamp than was Lott. (Though a loyal Republican, Lott stubbornly kept insisting that the Senate wasn’t under the direct control of the White House, and therefore he had to go.) In the meantime, millions of people were exposed to the infant version of the progressive wing of the blogosphere, and its growth mushroomed as a result, signaling the rise of the progressive blogs as a political and media force.

And we owe it all to the ratfucking skills of Tom Mason. Thanks, Tom!

Oh, almost forgot: The Republican smears of the Wellstone memorial event, smears that led to Norm Coleman’s victory barely a week later, ticked off Al Franken so much that he resolved to move back to Minnesota and run against Norm in the 2008 Senate race. This is why we have now have Senator Al Franken on Capitol Hill. Thanks again, Tom!

UPDATE: Yet another key operative is bailing on the Emmer campaign — or the Ship of Tools, as Sally Jo Sorensen of Bluestem Prairie calls it. The latest escapee: Bill Walsh, scampering back to the safety of his Department of Education job.

5 Responses to “Mason Bails On Emmer: File This Under “Rat-&@#ers Leaving A Sinking Ship””

  1. Charles II said

    It must be hard to be a Republican.

    I can’t imagine having to suffer being that much ugly.

  2. David W. said

    Sorry to burst a bubble here, but it isn’t as if Rick Kahn didn’t lose it at Wellstone’s memorial. I watched the whole event live, sans commentary, and even a liberal like myself didn’t care for Kahn’s overwrought pleas. If it had come from Wellstone’s kids, that would have been one thing, but from Kahn it was embarassing. So let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that there wasn’t fodder for said Republicans smears.

    • I was there, too. It was a five-plus-hour-long event, designed to be a celebration of a life — such as the “celebrate me home” funerals I’ve attended — and had everything from Native American dance troupe to folk guitarists. The part you’re talking about was a fairly small portion, and you know what? Rick Kahn was indeed driven by overwrought grief, which those of us who saw it noted and took into account.

      But Rick Kahn didn’t make Sara Janacek and Kellyanne Fitzpatrick go onto the airwaves and tell blatant lies about “applause signs” or massive crowds of booers.

      Compare the press reaction to the Wellstone event — coached by Republicans like Tom Mason — to the press reaction to Trent Lott’s comments at the Thurmond birthday party. That was the whole point of this post — and in fact the point bloggers like Atrios constantly made. Oh, and how come it was OK to politicize Reagan’s funeral?

  3. Charles II said

    Anything is fodder for Republican smears. Ask Shirley Sherrod.

    Decent people would have accepted that it was an intensely emotional moment for Wellstone’s inner circle, and would have understood that at such moments, people say things they might otherwise not have said.

    The Republican noise machine is not run by decent people, and it’s time for Democrats to stop apologizing.

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