Cross-posted from Channel Surfing:
I received this letter from a reader from Monroe this week (it will run on Friday in The Cranbury Press):
Last week’s column by Managing Editor Hank Kalet described the campaign between Tom Kean Jr. and Bob Menendez as a choice between bad and bad, Mr. Kean’s positions versus Mr. Menendez’s integrity. This is a comparison between apples and bicycles.
The editorial should have been between the candidates political/policy positions or their personal integrity. As of this morning Mr. Kean is leading Mr. Menendez, a sitting United States Senator, by six points (Monmouth University/Gannett NJ Poll).
The policy differences between the two candidates have been submerged by the questions of Mr. Menendez’s integrity. It would seem that he has very little, if any, integrity. He appears to be nothing more than a second-rate Hudson County Democrat. First-rate Hudson County Democrats dont get caught.
There have never been any questions concerning Mr. Keans personal integrity. He has always conducted his affairs with the highest personal honesty and integrity. This is a hallmark of the Kean family, as Tom, Jr. follows in the footsteps of his father.
However, in whose footsteps does Mr. Menendez follow? Since his roots never seem to manifest themselves, then I would offer a list of Democrats that serve as mentors to Mr. Menendez: James McGreevey, John Lynch, Wayne Bryant, Sharpe James, Robert Torricelli, William Musto, Robert Janiszewski, George Norcross, Peter Harvey, Zulima Farber, Gerald McCann, Thomas Whelan, Hugh Addonizio, Cornelius Gallagher, Kenneth Gibson.
I would recommend that the next time the writer decides to compare two issues, that he ensure the issues are apples to apples.
Harold V. Kane
His letter essentially proves my point — that the election is likely to come down to a competition between narratives, with Mr. Kane subscribing to the corruption story, while I subscribe to the issues narrative.
I’m not a “party” guy — meaning that I do not bleed blue or automatically vote Democrat. I am pretty liberal (actually, I am to the left of liberal and voted for Ralph Nader in both 1996 and 2000), but that does not mean I can be counted on to support any party line.
That said, I am planning to vote for the Democrat, Robert Menendez, though I have misgivings about the ethics “situation” currently hanging over his head, as well as his hardline stance on Cuba and South America, more generally. On the plus side, he voted against the Iraq war and continues to oppose it, co-sponsoring legislation to bring the troops home, and he has been a staunch defender of Social Security.
But the most important issue is this one, outlined in today’s Washington Post by columnist Harold Meyerson. The thing to remember is that Kean Jr. is running as a moderate (he is far more conservative than his father was, but not as conservative as Bill First) at a time when moderate Republicans like Lincoln Chafee have become nothing more than Congressional enablers.
Chafee and Maine’s Olympia Snowe and such deathbed converts to moderation as Ohio’s Mike DeWine are seeking reelection to the Senate by claiming that they represent a Republicanism less rabid than the Bush-Rove strain. They point to individual votes in which they broke with the president and flouted the party line. But those votes have been negated a hundred times over by their votes to make Bill Frist the majority leader, just as they would be negated when the new Senate takes office in 2007 if the moderates backed any Republican unwilling to make a fundamental break with Bush and Bushism.
The issue isn’t the individual voting records of Frist and McConnell, which are indistinguishable from each other and define the mainstream of today’s gorge-the-rich, drown-the-poor, stay-the-course Republicanism. The issue is that under the control of the Republicans, both the Senate and the House have abandoned their constitutionally mandated obligation to oversee executive branch endeavors, most especially endeavors gone as awry as the war in Iraq. The issue is that under Republican control, both houses have abandoned any effort to address America’s real problems.
Unless state Sen. Kean is willing to go on the record saying he would not support arch-conservative Mitch McConnell for majority leader, for instance, his moderation seems useless. The majority leader posts the bills and controls the flow of legislation, meaning that no matter how much of a pro-choice, pro-environment Republican Sen. Kean is, the legislation that will emanate from the Senate will be anti-choice and anti-environment (not to mention Sen. Kean’s support for the war and unwillingness to take a position on Social Security).
South Brunswick Post, The Cranbury Press
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