Friday, May 08, 2009

Norm Coleman and the tragedy of hubris

The year was 1996, the early morning hours of a soul-deadening, frigid winter’s night. Mayor of St. Paul Norm Coleman, wearing his favorite smoking jacket and fez, sat brooding in an overstuffed chair near a dying fire, staring into a glass of bitterness. His one-time friends in the DFL had turned against him. Criticized him. Booed him at events.

Fools. Didn’t they know he had a destiny to fulfill? Couldn’t they visualize him delivering a speech on the floor of the Senate so powerful it would disrupt the time-space continuum? Didn’t they know that one day he would command generals and ambassadors and quivering foreign leaders to carry out his visionary policies as he paced to and fro in the Oval Office? “Apparently not,” he said aloud, startling a cat sleeping at his feet.

As he stirred the embers in his Meerschaum, a shadow emerged from the darkness sending icy chills down the mayor’s back. The cloaked figure spoke.

“Norm. I think you know why I am here,” it rattled.

“I know of no one who would present himself to me uninvited in the darkest hours of the morning, except….” Coleman shuddered.

“Yes. You do understand. Although I wouldn’t say I was ‘uninvited.’ You want to fulfill your destiny, and I want to help you do that by striking a bargain with you.”

“A bargain? What sort of bargain, Sir?”

“I can help you realize your dreams of political power…for a price.”

“And you are a fiend,” said Coleman, turning away from the specter in fear.

“Success. Power. All can be yours. The political winds are blowing strongly to the right, My Friend, and you must change allegiances to capitalize on this event. Switch parties, Norm. Give your soul to me, and you will achieve that which you so desire.”

“My soul? Now?”

“Not now. You have work to do. But there will come a day when we will consummate this bargain, and I will collect what you promise me.”

“When? When would that day be?”

“When the winds change again, Norm. If they ever do.”

Coleman stood and contemplated this vexing proposal. “The Democrats have rejected me, and they are weak and in disarray. Americans have always been conservative at heart, and I do not think that will change any time soon. Certainly not in my lifetime.”

“Then we have a deal?” hissed the shadow.

“We have a deal,” agreed Coleman. “I willingly put my future in the hands of the Republican Party. This cannot go wrong. But who, pray tell, are you?”

“I am known by many names, but you can call me, ‘Mr. Cheney.’ Until we meet again.” And with that, the phantom vanished back into the darkness beyond the last remnants of firelight.

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