Monday, May 09, 2005

Senator Nelson Defends Himself

by Kyle Michaelis
The following letter to the editor in the Journal-Star last week got the attention of its intended target, Sen. Ben Nelson, who obviously felt the need to respond when his long-avowed independence was challenged.
Sen. Ben Nelson spent the last of his credibility. He voted last week to approve the Family Planning Amendment to the $34 billion Foreign Affairs Authorization Act. The amendment reversed the U.S. policy to prohibit foreign aid from going to organizations that provide abortion services. Money for women's health issues could have been channeled through numerous groups that don't promote abortion. The act didn't need amending to include the Democratic Party's pro-abortion ideology.

Nelson has been an honorable man. He doesn't believe in promoting abortion using taxpayer money, regardless of whether it's in the United States or abroad. He has always leaned toward pro-life, at least he used too. Unfortunately, he feels it's necessary to sacrifice his pro-life beliefs, like other Democratic Party leaders, to gain political power within the pro-abortion party.

Nelson campaigned for office vowing to be independent, that he wouldn't be a rubber stamp for party ideology, like a Republican. Instead, he has become a yes-man for the Democratic Party's pro-abortion ideology.

Tom McLaughlin, Lincoln
GASP! Nelson voting like a Democrat - we can't have that. But wait, isn't Harry Reid, the Democratic Leader of the Senate, also pro-life? How'd he get so high-up in the "pro-abortion" party? Ahh...why even try to reason with these label-crazed fools? Here's the big guy swooping in to defend his own record:
In response to Tom McLaughlin's letter of May 4, I would like to clarify my vote on an issue that unfortunately has been cast as a pro-abortion issue. As the father of two children adopted at birth, I am a pro-life parent, not just a pro-life politician.

I support the Helms amendment which specifically prohibits the use of U.S. taxpayer dollars to provide or promote abortions in countries receiving funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development. As McLaughlin knows, the vote in question provides for essential women's health services to countries that, in many circumstances, have no such opportunities available for women. Contrary to what McLaughlin suggests, my vote did not provide direct or indirect support for abortions.

This was not a partisan vote. Republicans as well as Democrats voted to support women's health services. I am pro-life. As a leader in Democrats for Life, just last month I supported an initiative to reduce the rate of abortion in the United States through education and alternatives like adoption.

McLaughlin is right about my pledge to be an independent voice for Nebraska. I think my record on this and every issue backs up my pledge.

Sen. Ben Nelson, Omaha
All kidding aside, one can't help but appreciate the care and thought Nelson puts into making sure his votes represent his consituents in Nebraska while still serving the larger interests of the country and, in this case, the world. It's a difficult, unenviable and oftentimes lonely road he travels that has nevertheless garnered the same respect amongst his peers that we've learned for him since his days as governor.

Nelson's defense not only adequately refutes but makes ludicrous McLaughlin's accusation, which seems driven far more by political motivations than any sort of principle. Nelson's avoidance of extremes makes him difficult to pigeon-hole and an attempt as exaggerated in its partisan rhetoric as this one borders on flat-out dishonesty exploiting voter's ignorance and their religious beliefs in most predatory fashion.

Sadly, not everyone who read McLaughlin's twisting of the facts also read Nelson's correction. Therein lies the power of deceit. Hopefully, those swayed by the first letter will seek out the truth for themselves rather than doing as too many do and taking another's word for it. More citizens should follow Nelson's example of thinking for himself with their votes. Would that really be asking too much? Is a functioning democracy really so impossible???


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