The Senator Without Shame
A few days after the announcement of Alexander Cockburn’s death from a cancer affliction, former U.S. Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD) told the Rapid City, South Dakota Journal that he had obtained a “huge libel settlement from Alex’s publisher” as a result of a lawsuit Pressler said he initiated against Alex and his publisher.
In the words of Robert Welsh, the lawyer who represented the U.S. Army when Sen. Joe McCarthy tried to smear a young associate of Welsh’s with a Communist brush, “At long last, have you no shame?” he asked of McCarthy. That question applies doubly to Pressler.
Pressler, whose Senate career was largely unremarkable, took offense to a chapter in one of Alex’s books, Washington Babylon (with Ken Silverstein), in which he quoted various people as saying Pressler was gay, among other descriptions of Pressler’s moronic stumble through his Senate career. Like the time he left a Senate Committee hearing and tried to exit through a closet. Waiting what he thought was an appropriate amount of time so there would be no one left in the hearing room, he came out of the closet to find everyone staring at him.
Not satisfied to ignore the chapter in Alex’s book, his television consultant for his 1996 re-election campaign decided to denounce both Alex and me in a massive television advertising buy, calling attention to Alex’s book. Incidentally, Pressler’s advertising consultant whose brilliance conceived the idea of attacking Alex on the issue of gayness was a Pressler consultant named Art Finkelstein, described in part in his Wikipedia entry:
In 1996, Boston Magazine outed Finkelstein as a homosexual in a feature story. In April, 2005, Finkelstein acknowledged that in December, 2004, he had married his partner of forty years in a civil ceremony at his home in Massachusetts.
Finkelstein, who is credited during his opportunistic career with making “liberal” a dirty word, has consulted for such statesmen as Avigdor Lieberman and Bibi Netanyahu, as well as a host of other Republican luminaries.
But for Pressler to find cheer in Alex Cockburn’s death is an act that is beyond the pale, even for a nonentity like Pressler. Knowingly offering his grave-dancing to a South Dakota newspaper is so obscene that one can hardly find words to describe it.
Alex Cockburn was one of the few honest men left in America, someone journalism sorely needs. Pressler is first among a number of persons who are not fit to shine Alex’s shoes.
JAMES ABOUREZK is a former U.S. Senator from South Dakota. He is the author of Advise & Dissent: Memoirs of South Dakota and the U.S. Senate, a memoir now available only on Amazon’s Kindle. His e mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org