I certainly don't remember every e-mail I've ever received, but I'll never forget the one I got from Pete Shankman on October 25, 2002. selannia and I had just arrived at teleri25's house after a 10-hour roadtrip from northern Virginia. After saying hi to everyone who'd arrived before us, I excused myself and went to check my e-mail. I was surprised to see a message from Pete; we'd not spoken or exchanged e-mails in several years. Here's what it said, more or less:
I thought of you when I heard the news. Hope you're doing OK.
I didn't know what he was talking about, but obviously it wasn't anything good. I browsed over to a news site to see if I could figure it out. And there it was, the lead story: Senator Wellstone killed in plane crash. And I said, rather uncharacteristically and rather loudly, "holy shit!"
I ended up having a fairly wretched time that weekend; Paul's death was just part of what made it wretched, but it put me in a bad mood right off the bat and made me all the more sensitive to a bunch of other stuff that happened that weekend.
But that's beside the point. The point is that I wish Paul was still around, speaking his mind, doing what he thought was right, irritating (intentionally or not) the Senate leadership and the White House, and generally just being a great guy. It occured to me earlier this year as I was thinking about taking the manager job at the bookstore that I really hadn't enjoyed any of my jobs since leaving Paul's staff in 1997. It wasn't really the job that I liked; it was Paul himself. He was a great boss, a real pleasure to work for.
I wish there were more politicians like him, but he may have been one of a kind. Which is too bad. The Senate would be a much better place if they were more people there like Paul. I don't mean that in an ideological sense, or at least not just in that sense. Paul genuinely cared about people. Not just his supporters, or the residents of Minnesota, but all people, regardless of race, class, creed, political affiliation, economic standing. That, sad to say, is not a trait I sense in most politicians, nor in people in general.