It's unlikely anyone's mind was changed at last week's Forum on a War in Iraq at Central Lakes College. Nevertheless, the event, which pitted those who favored military action against those who didn't, was a lively, informative session.
Sponsored by the League of Women Voters, The Brainerd Daily Dispatch and Central Lakes College, the forum drew about 60 people, a respectable number that was probably aided by Thursday's unseasonably warm weather.
Both sides on the question of U.S. military action against Iraq presented articulate and heart-felt arguments to support their side of the argument. The forum featured some forceful language and strong opinions but was an extraordinarily civil session.
There was no name-calling, even though panel members strongly disagreed with each other. The speakers each made their points without interruptions. The audience, although probably leaning toward the anti-war side, was respectful of all the presenters. The exchanges never got personal.
Some of our elected officials could have learned a little about public meeting etiquette by attending last week's session.
Next time the senator should get down to specifics on the issues
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., last week, made his first foray into central Minnesota since Election Day and drew an overflow crowd to the Perkins Restaurant on Highway 371.
As eloquent and cordial as any politician in the state, Coleman updated the crowd on federal issues and repeated many of the themes and talking points of his 2002 campaign. After a quick-moving, hour-long session that didn't allow the new senator to get into much substance, he took the time to pose for pictures with Little Falls Community High School civics students in the parking lot.
There was one note of disappointment we heard from a Royalton woman, a few days after the session. The meeting was billed as a discussion of economic development in outstate Minnesota, she said, and that topic was only touched upon with a few, broad, general comments by Coleman about public-private partnerships. The woman was correct in asserting that central Minnesota needs to revitalize its economic base by attracting more good-paying jobs. An in-depth discussion of how to accomplish that feat could have easily taken up the entire hour.
Granted, Coleman has been busy adjusting to Washington D.C. life and his new responsibilities, but we've all grown a little weary of the general campaign pitches we've heard before. It would be nice if the senator's next visit focused more on specifics on a topic of his choosing.
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