Opinion
A Tale of Two Critics
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A Tale of Two Critics

What does the U.S. Constitution really mean? Two prominent Minnesotans offer very different takes.

To: The Honorable Walter F. Mondale
Mr. Jason Lewis

 

Gentlemen:

Because I have known you both for many years—and because you are Minnesota-based commentators from different parts of the political spectrum—I looked forward to reading your new books: Power Divided Is Power Checked, by Mr. Lewis; and The Good Fight, by former Vice President Mondale.

Governor Rudy Perpich once said that certain politicians, such as former U.S. Congressman and Minneapolis Mayor Donald Fraser, were “process” liberals; other politicians, like himself, were “program” liberals. Perpich meant that some politicians were concerned with how things were done rather than what got done. By that measure, Jason, you are a “process” conservative; while you, Fritz, are clearly a “program” liberal.

Listening to your weekday talk show on KTLK 100.3 FM and reading your occasional newspaper columns, Jason, one would expect your book to be a polemic. In fact, you have written a highly documented “process” attack on the modern welfare state. Commendably, you have included pages of footnotes at the end of every chapter. Others can judge the quality of your source material, but it is there for all to see.

On the other hand, one would expect your book, Fritz, to rely on legal precedent and legal reasoning. But while you were a top law student at the University of Minnesota, the state’s attorney general before you were a U.S. senator, and a practicing lawyer into your 80s with a large Twin Cities–based international law firm, the arguments you make are almost entirely “program” based. You rely upon your decades in public office and your well-deserved reputation for fairness, which comes through in all of your recollections (even those concerning your presidential opponent, Ronald Reagan!).

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