Giant Among Men

Your recent article about Minnesota’s loss of influence in national politics [“The Minnesota Model—Unglued,” May] didn’t really get at the heart of the matter. My grandpa, Fred Dennstedt of Fillmore County, was a lifelong Democrat and DFLer (born in 1883). He loved Hubert Humphrey and all who stood in his shadow, which means the rest of the people featured in your article. He took his turn as the sacrificial Democratic candidate for Senate in the 1930s. Remember, this part of the state had Republican congressmen for 103 years until Tim Penny. My grandpa’s campaign slogan was “a dirt farmer, liberal but sane.” That is the problem: Liberal but insane does not work, and does not gather influence. Your article also gave short shrift to arguably the most influential member of the Minnesota delegation over the last 25 years. That would be Bill Frenzel. Having worked for him, I am a little biased. However, Dan Rostenkowski (remember him?) would not hold a Ways and Means committee vote without Bill in the room. At the same time, Bill would always take the time to know and advise each staff member on their lives and careers. The Boss is still influential through his work with the Brookings Institution, and he still works for Minnesota.

Peter O. Torvik, Hopkins






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