Ten years ago (October 17, 2010)
Ten years ago yesterday I received a late night phone call from my then state representative who I had been assisting with her reelection campaign. She told me that she had bad news. Governor Mel Carnahan’s plane was missing. After that painful and somewhat lengthy conversation I called my then state senator and he also confirmed the bad news. My spouse and I turned to the television to try and find more news.
In those days I was very active in the Missouri Democratic Party, serving in various capacities as a member of legislative and senate district committees. I had been elected a delegate to the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles and as such had a few opportunities to briefly interact with members of the Carnahan family there. Unfailingly, each of them was always good humored, gracious, unassuming, and approachable. I have a photo that someone took of me and Governor Carnahan at a delegation reception after one of the convention days had ended.
My spouse and I are musicians. She is a harpist, and in previous years had played on numerous occasions at the Governor’s mansion in Jefferson City where there is a concert grand harp. We had always called the mansion instrument, a concert grand which had been donated, the “state harp.”
During the next days (I can’t remember exactly when, it was all a blur) my spouse received a call from the Governor’s mansion asking if she would play as the public paid their respects to the Governor as his casket lay in state in the mansion. She was scheduled to play last, for two hours.
For various practical reasons, among them the disturbance caused by tuning the state harp as other musicians played and the public was paying their respects, it was decided that my spouse would bring her own concert grand. I drove to Jefferson City that evening with my spouse to help her move her harp into the mansion.
As we arrived in Jefferson City that evening and approached the Governor’s mansion we were struck by the long line of people outside waiting to enter the mansion. The streets around the mansion already had manned barricades as security was increasing in anticipation of the service the next day on the steps of the capitol. We drove up to a barricade and announced who we were. We were let in, unloaded the harp, then parked our vehicle at a designated spot across from the mansion.
We took the small elevator, with the harp, up to the main floor of the mansion. The governor’s casket and honor guard, along with people filing past to pay their respects, were in the central room. Other musicians from Jefferson City who we knew were just finishing and we quietly moved the harp into place. As my spouse played I sat in a chair nearby in the staircase alcove.
It was deeply moving to witness the long line of everyday people, some in working clothes, others in more formal dress, young and old, wealthy, middle class, poor, filing past to pay their respects.
Several family members came down the stairs. They sat nearby for a moment to listen to the music and witness some of the public sharing their grief.
After two and half hours the last of the public had filed past. As we quietly moved the harp to the elevator we turned to look at the room, no sounds, no music, the front door to the mansion closed, and the honor guard at attention alone with the flag draped casket.
After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Jack Kennedy apologized on national television for sanctioning the plan and was nonplused to discover that his approval rating immediately jumped ten percent.
Maybe Matt Blunt should consider that anecdote. Suppose the boy governor were to apologize for: deleting e-mails, firing Eckersley and then sliming him, lying about the existence of Eckersley memos, employing a bodyguard who shoves reporters around. And continuing to lie. OK, his numbers wouldn’t bound upwards like Kennedy’s because it wouldn’t be a sincere apology about a well intentioned mistake. But it might at least stop the hemorrhaging.
Most Missourians, little interested in the goings on in Jeff City, are as yet barely aware–if at all–of the brouhaha, but if it keeps gaining ground as it has been, it will damage an already fragile re-election effort beyond repair.
The K-C Star’s Prime Buzz issues a dire warning:
Gov. Matt Blunt is in the middle of a political meltdown that could bring down his administration.
He might not just lose next year’s election against Jay Nixon. He could get demolished.
In the face of these problems, Blunt has
apologized for the unfortunate shoving incident and promised to make his e-mail records public whined that one of Mel Carnahan’s security guards once pushed a reporter. Bluntco is correct: such an incident did take place. And in fact, Carnahan’s man pushed the reporter about thirty feet! But really, Team Blunt’s complaint sounds like indignation from a third grader. “Yeah, I hit Susie, but last week Billy hit Mary. Why are you picking on me?” Like his role model, GWB, Blunt believes apologies are for sissies.
And by the way, when Carnahan’s guard shoved a reporter, Carnahan–who wasn’t already being grilled to a soot blackened wienie over anything–apologized.
There’s speculation, even from Ryan Cooper, the brother of penitentiary-bound representative Nathan Cooper (R-Cape Girardeau), that with the holiday weekend coming up, Matt Blunt will fire his chief of staff, Ed Martin, the man who did the Eckersley firing. The theory is that we’ll wake up from our turkey induced snoozes to find that Martin is gone and all is well again.
Maybe Martin is toast, maybe not. And considering how little attention the voters pay, firing him might work. Or not. But Governor Blunt should consider the possibility that he’s going to get demolished a year from now.