It was clear that Parry was pretty much the stuff of Republican operative dreams, since even that tendency to say crass and bullying things in public gave them a chance to demonstrate their political skills and somehow spin that liability into a strength.
No wonder why Michael Brodkorb later talked about finding a political soulmate in Michael Parry, but then, he was doing a lot of that sort of thing at the time.
Also clear: that there wasn't much there there, a first impression reinforced by the many Waseca residents who came forward with tales of Mike Parry's days on the local city council. I went down to the city hall and read the council minutes, and it soon became clear why the good citizens of Waseca kicked him out of office after one term.
There were big things, like contacting developers to buy a local park, but the thing that stuck most with me over the years was smaller. In a discussion of liguor law enforcement, Parry had carried on about what he perceived to be the injustice of the matter: that liquor license holders were fined at all when their employees served the underage.
The employee should face the brunt of punishment, not the establishment's owners. This struck me as the road to bartender hell. Rather than making the worker more vigilant for underage drinkers and those who need to be cut off after one too many, it would create incentives for management to pressure employees to sell a product, but remove any severe consequences for sales that were out of bounds.
That approach to regulation -- favoring the "job creators" while letting consequences burden the rest of us--marks much of Parry's approach to governing. That, and making things up about opponents like Governor Dayton, and making it personal in the manner of a small-town good-old-boy bully. That the Senate's media team was able to make the Waseca lawmaker seem charming to the Twin Cities press corps says a lot about the team's skills--and the media's complicity with those skills.
My sources in Waseca, those who knew Parry best, despaired.
With that dynamic in place--the blustering, petty, self-serving Parry, the political courtiers, and a press corps who often preferred the spoon to public records--Emo Senator was born. Since the leadership abilities of Mike Parry was mostly a fiction anyway, I simply pulled out the stops and returned to fiction's roots in drama--or melodrama as it were.
Meanwhile, the Republican base was beginning to notice that there wasn't much there, and no amount of savaging Allen Quist for decades-old remarks could much conceal that. In the Forum tent at Farmfest, it was clear how out-classed Parry was compared to Walz and Quist.
As a subject for writing, I'll miss the Emo Senator; the Quists are an entirely different story. I'm dusting off the slim body of works by Flannery O'Connor for reference. A bit of Frederick Manfred and Christopher Buckley might go a long way as well.
Farewell, Emo Senator.