The Two Things You Can Expect From Every Tribute To Kent Conrad From The North Dakota Media


Senator Kent Conrad’s career is over, thankfully, and so the time has come for the North Dakota media to lionize his career, and enshrine him in the pantheon of North Dakota political sainthood.

But there are two things you can expect from every single retrospective and eulogy of Conrad’s career coming from the state media which, throughout that career, was ever the willing servant of his narrative and agenda.

These phenomena have already manifested themselves in the Grand Forks Herald and the Bismarck Tribune, but it will be fun to watch as pretty much every other media outlet in the state follows suit.

First, you’ll read not a word about the scandal which tainted the last years of Conrad’s career and no doubt loomed large in his decision to retire instead of seeking another term. Conrad was one of dozens of elected officials and federal bureaucrats who took big-money mortgage discounts from Countrywide Financial in apparent exchange for helping the company dump hundreds of billions of dollars worth of subprime loans on the US taxpayer at the height of the housing bubble. The quid for Conrad’s quo was relatively small in comparison to some of the other participants, the grand total of the discounts he received on the apartment complex he claimed as his official residence in Bismarck as well as his multi-million dollar beach house in Delaware was around $10,000, but selling out cheap doesn’t exactly lighten the stain of the sin.

But Conrad needn’t worry. That sorry chapter in his career will be thoroughly whitewashed by his friends in the state media.

Second, you’ll probably read some reference to Conrad’s self-appointed status as a “deficit hawk,” and the fact that a lot of his critics didn’t think he deserve it, followed by an explanation for why his critics are wrong.

“A frequent criticism of Conrad is that he voted for too much spending to be fairly called a ‘deficit hawk,'” writes editor Tom Dennis on behalf of the Grand Forks Herald before noting that Conrad sometimes talked about cutting spending (even if he didn’t often back words up with action).

“His conservative detractors took umbrage when Conrad was labeled a ‘deficit hawk,'” wrote the Bismarck Tribune in their tribute to Conrad. “They could not make the connection between the senator’s conservative economic rhetoric and his votes for spending programs authored by Democrats.”

“Conrad saw the need to be fiscally responsible, but he also saw the need for social responsibility, just as he saw the need for a federal safety net for farmers at the same time he worked to create a long-term plan for reducing the federal debt.”

In other words, being a hypocrite is ok, as long as you’re the right sort of hypocrite.

On a related note, which airport or public building or highway do you think is going to be named after Conrad? I’d like to name the street outside of the apartment complex Conrad used as his phony “official residence” after him, but something tells me I probably won’t get my way.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Yogibare

    Of course he will be Lionized. How wonderful it is to spend the public money on projects and activities that engrandize one’s reputation! And, get to do it for nearly three decades—and get paid handsomely for it to boot. Oh, not in salary, but in the perks and benefits that make one rich (in $$$$) in “the service of the public”.

  • Roy_Bean

    Now he can donate all those flannel shirts to the Salvation Army, he won’t be needing them anymore.

    • The Whistler

      Only worn for the photo op so they are in good shape.

    • Spartacus

      Or get a staring role in a TV show based upon the Red Green Show and wear them. Hannitized could play the role of Harold.

  • Thresherman

    Unmentioned as well, will be Conrad’s role in not having a budget since 2009. As chairman of the budget committee it was his responsibility, BY LAW, to report out a budget so that the Senate could act on it. His failure to do was to provide cover for Senate Democrats so that they would not have to take responsibility for the spending that they wanted and got.

    They will not mention that although he campaigned as an opponent of gun control, he voted for the useless 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.

    Conrad, the budget sparrow, who ran his original campaign on balancing the budget also voted against the Balanced Budget Amendment. This will not be mentioned.

    When forced to choose between his constituents and the Democratic Party, Conrad always chose the party over the state. The good news for Democrats is Heidi will continue this legacy.

    • Wayne

      He also said he would not support publicly funded abortion but voted for it. That wasn’t mentioned either.

  • jimmypop

    “I’d like to name the street outside of the apartment complex”

    if anyone had any balls and great sense of humor, the folks in Bismarck would jump on this NOW. what a clever insult to the guy that never really lived here.

    • Rob

      Some smart ass legislator should put in the bill.

  • Mike

    Conrad could have been worse. He could have been Byron Dorgan. Though his politics were too left for me, as a person, a human being, he is and has been one of the nicest, personable and non-confrontational North Dakotans I know. I like the person Kent Conrad.

    • Rob

      I’m sure the person Kent Conrad is very nice, I’ve heard that from many people. The politician, however, sucks.

  • kevindf

    All that insider trading Gaylord was able to do was very profitable.

  • Goon

    I bet they don’t mention his country wide mortgage scandal.

  • Stuart

    The LOCK BOX lie on SOCIAL SECURITY has finally be put into the bone yard of Politics. And we have now witnessed CONRAD’S PROMISE to resign if the budget was balance. The FISCAL HAWK flys no more and lies no more. Any bets on his next job as a consultant making $200 to $400 thousand a year is already sealed and his office already furnished and ready to move in? Funny to note that you never..never heard SENATOR CONRAD complain about no BUDGET at all for the last four years.
    Follow the dots to the HAWKS NESTING HABITS.

  • Stuart

    Don’t ever forget that when caught, this HAWK is genuine, and pays back a portion of his fowl deeds. Must be nice to be immune from any corruption charges.

  • Guest