It is impossible to know what difference the late Sen. Wellstone would have made in the run up to the Iraq war.
We may, however, have seen the first vote distinctly and directly impacted by the deaths of Sen. Wellstone and Sen. Mel Carnahan (MO).
Most here are familiar with Wellstone. Many, perhaps not all, remember that before Wellstone, MO Gov. Mel Carnahan was killed in a plane crash very similar to that which killed Wellstone a few weeks before the 2000 election (and STILL beat Sen. John Ashcroft).
Wellstone certainly would have been for cloture, if not leading the filibuster fight. What about Carnahan?
More thoughts and a review of literature...
Carnahan was certainly not a DLC/Centrist Democrat, and he also had balls. Though he represented a red state, I'm not sure he would have chickened out (he would, however, have been up for re-elect in '06).
With Carnahan and Wellstone, we get a lot closer to NO on cloture. How many others could they have brought along, given how respected they were?
And this is the crux of the issue:
Two Democratic Senators are killed in almost identical small plane crashes within two years of one another. The first, beating future Attny Gen John Ashcroft, of whose ethics we are all quite familiar. The second, the leading critic of Bush's war plans and potential 2004 non-milqtoast challenger, running against a Johnny-Bravo-Republican (Norm!).
Do I think Carnahan and Wellstone were murdered? At the time I was skeptical. Having witnessed 5 years of this administration, and seeing how they stop at nothing, and seeing who they employ in service of their goals, I believe it likely.
I remember seeing Tom Harkin the day after Wellstone's plane went down, attempting to read a statement, and he was clearly in mourning for his friend, but I read something else in his features that day: fear.
A review of literature on the subjects, out of respect:
Wellstone now joins the ranks of other American politicians who died in small plane crashes. Another recent victim was Missouri's former Democratic governor, Mel Carnahan, who lost his life in 2000, three weeks before Election Day, during his Senatorial race against John Ashcroft. Carnahan went on to become the first dead man to win a Senatorial race, humiliating and defeating the unpopular Ashcroft posthumously. Ashcroft, despite his unpopularity, went on to be appointed Attorney General by George W. Bush. Investigators determined that Carnahan's plane went down due to "poor visibility."
FTW was able to receive comments on the crash from two Democratic members of the House of Representatives. Both, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that they believed that Wellstone had been murdered.
One said, "I don't think there's anyone on the Hill who doesn't suspect it. It's too convenient, too coincidental, too damned obvious. My guess is that some of the less courageous members of the party are thinking about becoming Republicans right now."
They know full well that Wellstone had crossed over the line. Wellstone had done what each one of them knows they dare not do - challenge the power brokers. They know that this man was willing to step right up in the face of the most powerful and ruthless people in the world and say, "No, you will not run roughshod over the community."
They know he's dead. They know his political opponent, Norm Coleman, a man hand-picked by those who Wellstone threatened, has conveniently risen to power in his place. Filibuster, anyone?
Justice Alito, what does respect for sanctity of life say about the means to which you were confirmed to the Supreme Court?