Never Afraid to Stand Alone

I updated Eric Alterman's Altercation today with a long post on Sen. Paul Wellstone called "Never Afraid to Stand Alone."

I saved my personal feelings for TalkLeft.

The loss was very difficult for me as I was in Minneapolis/Saint Paul Friday. At 1:00 p.m. I was at the old Commodore Hotel in Saint Paul speaking at a continuing legal education conference for Minnesota criminal defense lawyers. My topic was fighting for the unpopular defendant in the Post-9/11 world. I was half-way through when someone entered the room and took a seat in the back right section. I became of aware of a little buzz in the room and saw that the audience's attention had shifted from me at the front to that spot in the back. I wondered what was up and asked if something was wrong. A woman said, "Senator Wellstone and his wife and daughter and campaign staff were just killed in a small plane crash. He was on his way to a funeral."

I can say it was truly my worst moment in public speaking. After "Oh my God" (the triteness of which was magnified tenfold by my lavalier mike) I simply said "Do you want to stop?" and of course they did. After that there was stunned silence among the group, followed by crying and some sobbing.

We all left the room and gathered around the television. The hotel opened the bar. The rest of the day's conference was cancelled for these Minnesota lawyers, many of them sole practitioners and public defenders. Generally, although there are exceptions, criminal defense lawyers are a liberal group, more liberal than 99 out of 100 mainstream politicians. A senator like Paul Wellstone is a true hero to us and his loss is devastating. He was the most liberal person in the Senate, and there is no one who stands in his shoes to replace him. I am very sorry.

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