Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hold Your Nose And Vote For Joe?

What the hell kind of an endorsement is this from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer?

So the paper supports Admiral Joe Sestak over Crazy Curt Weldon in the PA-7 U.S. Congressional District?

Well, that’s a good thing. However, the paper described Sestak and Weldon as “two disappointing choices.” I would agree in the latter case, but definitely not the former.

Editorial Joe Sestak for Congress
Pa. Seventh District

Historically Republican, the district covering most of Delaware and parts of Chester and Montgomery Counties voted Democratic in the last three presidential elections.

The Case for Sestak

Retired admiral, U.S. Navy
Democrat, 54

This seat, held by Weldon for 20 years, is ripe for a change. Sestak, a career naval officer, is a political novice - and it shows. But he's benefited from the mounting ethical woes of the GOP majority on Capitol Hill, including Weldon's.

Sestak's experience commanding a battle group in Iraq and Afghanistan is key. He'd bring valuable military expertise to Pentagon oversight. He seems eager to push for needed ethics reforms.

The Opponent

Curt Weldon
U.S. representative
Republican, 59

The Case for Weldon

Weldon wields the influence of seniority on the Armed Services Committee. He knows the district and has brought defense jobs back home. This centrist enjoys rattling government cages.
I think Blogger is going to have some more unscheduled scheduled maintenance shortly, so I won't be able to rip this laughable "centrist" label (??) to shreds.

Character / Ethics

The Justice Department is investigating whether Weldon used his position to help his daughter's lobbying/consulting firm. Another daughter was hired by a defense contractor after Weldon helped the company to get a federal contract. This smells as bad as it looks.

You expect admirals to have integrity and leadership. Sestak seems to. But he stumbled badly during an Inquirer debate, belittling Weldon's work with "bubbas" in the district.
And the Inquirer stumbled badly in not reporting on some of Weldon’s horrific screwups, including his reference to sailors onboard ship under Sestak’s one-time command as “servants.”

And Sestak seems to have integrity? If I were the Admiral, I’d tell the Inquirer what they could do with a remark like that in the most blunt language that I knew.

Edge: Sestak (Experience / Credentials)

Weldon is an expert on Russia and North Korea. But he can undercut his credibility with loose-cannon behavior, such as flogging his "Able Danger" theory of the Pentagon's failure to stop 9/11.

Raised in Springfield, Sestak has a Ph.D. from Harvard in political economy and government, and served in the Clinton White House on the National Security Council. He has commanded as many as 15,000 military personnel.

Even Ideas / Issues

Unable to defend the war in Iraq any longer, Weldon now wants the generals to decide when to bring troops home. His concern comes late. Sestak rightly believes the Iraq war is a "tragic misadventure" and wants troops withdrawn by the end of 2007.
Funny that somehow, to the Inquirer’s way of thinking, there’s a more dramatic difference here between Weldon and Sestak on the war than there is between Mikey and Patrick Murphy, when in fact it’s really about the same rift either way; the difference is that Admiral Joe wins points here (as he should), but Patrick doesn’t (Mikey’s “concern” came late too).

Weldon does not rule out tax increases to erase the budget deficit. Sestak would raise taxes on people earning $200,000 per year or more, and cap discretionary spending.

Edge: Sestak

Overall Edge: Sestak
By the way, while I’m on the subject of political endorsements by the Inquirer, I should mention something peculiar about their endorsement of New Jersey U.S. House representative Chris Smith last Saturday.

I should point out that Smith is an incumbent Republican who is facing Democrat Carol Gay (who, as “a longtime labor activist,” is automatically doomed as far as the Inquirer is concerned, though I hasten to add that I don’t know anything about how that race has been shaping up). Also, it’s a shame that Smith is such an anti-choice zealot also, because he has done good work for our veterans, and that leads me into this excerpt from the Inquirer’s endorsement:

“(Smith’s) dogged efforts on behalf of veterans cost him the chairmanship of the House Veterans Committee in 2005.”
This happens to be true, by the way. But let’s think about the fundamental absurdity of that sentence for a minute, OK?

Smith was removed from his post by Tom “The Hammer” DeLay because he showed up "The Bug Man" by doing his job too well on behalf of our service people. I think that’s about as damning a statement about the failed Repug leadership as anything I could muster on my own.

Which brings me to some final points I want to make about the Inquirer and their candidate endorsements – I realize they’re going to pick and choose and not really act in accordance with anything I say here (that would be nice, though – “if I ruled the world” and all that…), but I look at it this way.

When you are driving a car that is costing you hundreds upon hundreds of dollars due to frequent repairs, and you eventually come to the inescapable conclusion that what you have is a lemon, do you decide to fix it a piece at a time (a new alternator here, a new carburetor there, maybe a new oil filter or a tailpipe and muffler also)?

No, you chuck the whole thing and look for a new car.

To me, the 109th Republican Congress is a lemon (and based on the polls I read, a lot of other people feel the same way). You don’t chuck Crazy Curt and Gerlach (endorsing Lois Murphy was a nice move, though) but keep Mikey Fitzpatrick and Pancake Joe Pitts without the expectation that the car is going to break down all over again, since they’re all part and parcel of the same problem.

And you sure as hell don’t keep Rick (“Eye-Of-Mordor-Man-on-Dog”) Santorum either.

Also, the writing in these Inquirer endorsements shows no depth whatsoever, unless of course there’s some hidden rationale for some of them that the august Inquirer editorial board decided not to share with us.

So here’s what I think; the Inquirer should just give up endorsing candidates. Just cut and paste whole blocks of text from and other sites, list them in the editorial section under one column for each candidate, and let the voters decide for themselves.

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