Quotations from Co-Chairman Keith

First elected in 2006, Keith Ellison represents Minnesota’s Fifth District (Minneapolis and inner-ring suburbs) in Congress. I closely followed his campaign after he won the endorsement of the DFL convention to succeed Martin Sabo in Congress, writing a lot about him on Power Line. At the threshold of his election to Congress I took a look back in the Weekly Standard article “Louis Farrakhan’s first congressman” and in the companion post “Keith Ellison for dummies.”

Ellison has made a name for himself as the first Muslim elected to Congress while staking out a position at the far left of a left-wing party. He proudly identifies himself first and foremost as the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Ellison is an ambitious guy. With a little help from Karen Hunter (as he notes in the Acknowledgements), he has now written the memoir cum manifesto My Country ‘Tis of Thee: My Faith, My Family, Our Future. Yesterday was its official publication date.

I’ve been begging the publisher for a galley copy and/or a review copy for months. They even told me they would send me one, but it was not to be. Was it something I said?

The folks at MinnPost had no such trouble with the publisher. MinnPost published Devin Henry’s account of the book on Monday.

Astutely reading the tea leaves, I sprang for a copy of the book on my own nickel. Fortunately, my copy arrived right on time yesterday from Amazon. I have started reading the book and poking around in it. I see that Power Line earns a mention as a local organ that “attacked” Ellison during his first campaign. Not getting that review copy: it was probably something I said.

Having become a student of Ellison, I find the book intensely interesting. I hope to write about it at greater length when I am done reading it and have had a chance to reflect on it. While I am working my way through the book, I would like to post brief excerpts (consistent with fair use) that Power Line readers might find of interest for one reason or another without further comment from me.

Chapter 20 is titled “Profiles in Leadership.” Ellison writes:

My 2012 run for Congress was my fourth campaign. It was amazing as the last three in many ways. One learning experience was a debate in which I called my opponent a scumbag. My opponent stepped beyond the bounds of what is appropriate when he targeted my family and took a swipe at my ex-wife and children. I reacted badly with the name-calling.

I apologized for it, and it was heartfelt. Nothing a political opponent does justifies such a reaction. His behavior was irrelevant to my response. I can’t follow the “If he plays nice, then I’ll play nice” construct. That means my behavior is contingent on what he does. That’s not what leaders do. This unfortunate occasion reminded me of my duty to serve the people and to never allow personal attacks to steer me away from that goal.

For a straight factual account of this incident, see The Hill’s “Minn. Democrat calls GOP rival ‘scumbag gutter dweller’ on radio.”