Durenberger to Coleman: Get a grip, Norman

Earlier this year, City Pages ran a Q&A with Dave Durenberger as a cover story. The former U.S. Senator from Minnesota gave a frank critique of the current state of his own Republican party, saying mostly how it had been taken over by big money and religious zealots.

Some of the stuff that didn't make the cut was equally compelling; I was struck by Durenberger's thinly veiled jabs at Norm Coleman, currently Minnesota's junior Senator. Durenberger was especially disheartened by Coleman's zeal in smearing United Nations head Kofi Annan in the oil-for-food scandal.

Durenberger, a true fiscal conservative, was also chagrined over the nation's deficit. And his discomfort with it persists, if the August/September issue of Minnesota Law & Politics is any indication. The theme of the issue is "It takes one to know one," and succeeds in having local notables interview each other, much like what's done in Interview magazine.

Coleman and Durenberger square off, and after some senatorial niceties, Durenberger's true feelings are revealed:

"I'm bothered a great deal about the deficit," Durenberger notes, "and I'm curious as to whether it gets talked about."

Coleman spins his answer, saying that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are to blame, and certainly not defense spending or the war.

Durenberger is unimpressed: "Yeah, but you raised the debt. I mean, you said you were going to spend--I'm talking to you like I'm a reporter instead of your friend--but, you know, you said you were spending $395 billion and you're ending up spending a trillion dollars--where's the discipline?"

Duly admonished, Coleman concludes that the senate will "have to come back and take a look at that."

Durenberger is not appeased, as the exchange concludes. "But the president says he's going to veto it," he counters. "If you dare to take a look at it, he's going to veto it."

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