Not Eudora   By Harry Welty
Published June 14, 2002

Dishing Dearth

A couple weeks ago, the Reader’s editors hyped my column as the place to read political dished dirt. I was a bit discomfited by this promise because I much prefer cranking out platitudes. In fact, my subsequent column didn’t contain a bit of dirt. It was just a silly morality tale about the perils of telling the truth. The Reader’s editors weren’t impressed.

The problem is: I’m a politician. I’m a guy who ought to have his dirt dished. I shouldn’t be the one doing the dishing. Besides, it’s not very sporting for me to have a platform like this column to harass my foes. More importantly, I have to be politic. If I go around irritating other politicians my constituents are the ones who may have to pay the price.

One of my political heroes, Congressman Pete McCloskey, defined the word “politic” in a speech a few years ago. He said it simply means “not to give offense.” That was funny coming from Pete because he was the only Republican to challenge President Nixon in 1972 for the Republican nomination. Pete was an anti-Vietnam War candidate and got precisely one vote at the Republican National Convention. It was the only vote Nixon didn’t get. If I’d been in Miami Pete would have gotten two votes.

Pete took another Presidential candidate on in 1986 – Pat Robertson. When Pat used his Christian Coalition, PTL Club credentials to scramble for the Republican nomination Pete dished a little dirt.

Pete and Pat were both Korean War Vets but of very different stripes. Pete was a battle hardened, Marine Corps veteran. Pat, by contrast, was a US Senator’s son who got a cushy, non-combat job supplying booze to high ranking officers a safe distance from the battle where he could chase Korean secretaries around military offices.

Pat of course was outraged by this description of his military career and began the process of suing McCloskey for defamation. He later quietly dropped his suit and paid McCloskey’s court costs.

Unfortunately, none of this gets me off the hook. I may have to get along with Duluth ’s other politicians but a promise is a promise! The Reader said I’d dish dirt so listen up. Here’s the skinny on a member of the Duluth School Board. 

When Harry Welty was a little kid he used to pee outside by the garage rather than go inside to the bathroom. He once threw a rock and broke a neighbor’s garage window but never owned up to the deed. In fifth grade he got into the habit of swearing like a sailor. Once, while walking with his mother, he fell and skinned his knee. He let loose such a torrent of profanity that his mother was left blushing as the neighbors turned around to see what all the fuss was about.

When his father told him in exasperation that “Welty’s are no good at math,” (His Dad got frustrated trying to teach Harry long division) Harry used it as an excuse for the rest of his public school years to shrug off his lousy math grades.

He smoked marijuana in college and when his fraternity brothers took advantage of a mentally challenged, but willing, young girl; he used his budding rhetorical skills to keep the Minneapolis Tribune at bay after that paper sent a reporter down to his campus to write an exposé.

While all his friends assured him that he would be a fantastic teacher he proceeded to lose three teaching jobs in a row through sheer incompetence. He lost the last job while his father lay dying of cancer so that his father died thinking his son an abject failure. As a Board colleague once hissed at Harry, “you’re no teacher!”

He never took the good and sensible advice offered him about how to develop a political career. Instead, he managed to lose six campaigns in a row because of simple, foolish, stubbornness and pride. Pride, schmide! He once juggled tennis balls at a political debate to make a point. Not surprisingly, he lost that election too.

There now! If Welty ever gets on his high horse about some other politician’s failings, at least there will be little something for them to throw back at him. After all, fair’s fair.

When the Reader first asked me to write a column for them last January I told them that I had some political ambitions which might compromise any scribblings I sent them. They said they’d take their chances and examine their journalistic ethics as time went on and complaints crossed their desk. Well? We’re still waiting! (I’m not counting Davy Jones. He thinks I’m going to Hell along with all the sodomites!)

Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at: www.snowbizz.com 

Here's a column Pete McCloskey wrote that I just found. Its very interesting and I recommend it.

I also have a little more to say about Pete in an as yet unfinished reminiscence.