Thanks, Senator! Schultz Guest Dorgan Neglects to Tell Possible Successor That He's Leaving Senate

Suffice it to say, liberal radio host Ed Schultz of the exceedingly short fuse was mightily steamed.

Schultz on Tuesday celebrated the sixth anniversary of his radio show, the top-rated of any libtalker in the country, and among his guests was Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., introduced by Schultz as "a guiding light for me for a long, long time and a great friend."

Whereupon in the course of their nine-minute conversation, Dorgan kept alleged buddy Schultz in the dark about Dorgan's plan to retire from the Senate, major news regardless of where one sits on the spectrum.

Instead, word of this became public in a statement on Dorgan's Web site that evening, followed quickly by speculation of Schultz as a candidate to succeed Dorgan -- fueled in part by Schultz saying the next morning on MSNBC that Dorgan spoke with him by phone Tuesday night and hinted at Schultz as a possible successor.

Schultz's claim about this, however, comes across as dubious. Here is how Schultz described it to MSNBC's Alex Witt on Wednesday morning (while saying the same thing nearly verbatim in an "op ed" on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" last night) --

SCHULTZ (0:32 into clip): Well, last night when Sen. Dorgan was talking to me, he asked me how old I was. And I went, uh oh. (laughs)

WITT: This is not for a birthday card.

SCHULTZ: I did get a phone call from Merle Boucher who's the House Democratic leader (in North Dakota) and he asked me to consider to run ...

Dorgan doesn't know the middle-aged Schultz is older than 30, the minimum age for senators as mandated by the Constitution? Not likely. Either that or Dorgan was flattering Schultz, with the obvious implication of his question, to gloss over the oversight of not divulging his plans to Schultz earlier.

Dorgan appeared again on Schultz's radio show Wednesday and that night on "The Ed Show," in an appearance trumpeted by MSNBC as an "exclusive interview." 

But if Dorgan envisions Schultz as worthy successor, it didn't come across that way during their radio discussion Wednesday. While their 11-minute chat was dominated by talk of Dorgan's decision to resign, the possibility of Schultz as Senate candidate came up only once, and briefly (audio clip here) --

DORGAN: You know, I just felt that after 40 years of public service, even though I'm still young, I started when I was 26 years old, I just felt this was time for me to do something else.

SCHULTZ: What do you want to do?

DORGAN (pauses, clears throat): Well, uh, is your show open for a moderator?

SCHULTZ: It's wide open!

DORGAN (laughs): I'm just kidding but I ...

SCHULTZ: In fact, maybe we should switch positions! (laughs)

DORGAN: Yeah, might as well. But the thing is, I can't bestow this on anyone.

SCHULTZ (laughs)

DORGAN: I don't know, I think, I've written a couple of books and ...

Not much of an endorsement, veiled or otherwise. As for Dorgan's appearance on "The Ed Show" last night, the subject of Schultz possibly running for Dorgan's seat never came up -- while Dorgan seemed a bit testy when he said to Schultz (at 4:34 into this clip), "Well, try as you might, I'm not gonna tell you I got a bad taste in my mouth."

Jack Coleman
Liberated ex-liberal from the People's Republic of Massachusetts