Monday, October 10, 2005

Stenberg the Independent?

by Kyle Michaelis
In what is surely one of the sillier columns about Nebraska politics in recent memory, the Lincoln Journal-Star's Don Walton today turned a blind eye to almost two decades of Don Stenberg's being a Republican lackey, daring to suggest that the Stenberg seeking the 2006 Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate is newly-independent:
Don Stenberg lit a fire under his Senate campaign last week.

First came a declaration of conservative principles that disassociated him from the Republican record in Washington and effectively erased any image of him as a rubber stamp for President Bush....

On earlier travels throughout the state, Stenberg found Nebraska’s conservative Republican base upset with Washington Republicans. Just as he is.

Nebraska Republicans let Stenberg know they support the war in Iraq, but oppose the apparent abandonment of fiscally conservative government by a Republican president and a Republican Congress. Just as he does.

Oh puh-leeze!

This is a man with only one campaign style, and that's riding coat-tails while saying anything to get elected. In 1996, he thought he could capitalize on the "Republican Revolution" by being a Right-wing extremist. Didn't work. In 2000, he thought he could capitalize on Chuck Hagel's popularity by being Chuck Hagel's clone (in his words, "Chuck Hagel Jr."). Didn't work.

Now, playing weatherman once again, Stenberg senses the winds of change turning against the inept President Bush and corrupt Republican Congress and is doing what he can to differentiate himself from the failed agenda he has served for so long.

It's not going to work, but look at him try at his formal campaign announcement last week:
“Many Republicans in Washington have lost their way and no longer support smaller government, restrained federal spending or local control of education,” Stenberg said at a news conference at Eppley Airfield.

“Under a Republican Congress and a Republican president, federal spending has skyrocketed,” the former three-term attorney general said.

But the answer to that problem will not come from Democrats, Stenberg stressed. It must come from voters who elect fiscally conservative Republicans, he said.

It is time for change in Washington,” he declared. “Republicans in Washington need to be reminded why they were sent there in the first place"....

Stenberg...did not hesitate to include Bush in his criticism of Republican governance in Washington.

“Overall, I think he’s done a good job,” Stenberg said when asked. Stenberg gave Bush high marks in waging war against terrorists, securing tax cuts and nominating conservative judges to the federal courts.

“But I have been disappointed with the president in some regards,” he said before setting sail on a 12-community statewide tour.

Bush has not vetoed a single spending bill during his presidency, Stenberg said, even as federal budget deficits have soared. And federal control of education through mandates imposed on local schools is “bad policy,” he said.

However, Stenberg said, Bush was “the right person to deal with the terrorist attacks” at a critical moment in U.S. history.

Nelson, he said, is associated with the “blame-America-first crowd,” as exemplified by the Democratic leadership he has helped try to elect.

“Since an election is approaching,” Stenberg said, Nelson “will be doing everything he can to convince Nebraskans that he is not really a Democrat.”

Asked to identify specific issues on which he would have voted differently than Nelson, Stenberg chose three.

If he had been in the Senate, Stenberg said, he would have supported oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and voted to confirm the president’s nomination of Judge Priscilla Owen to a federal appeals court seat.

Furthermore, Stenberg said, he would be firmly committed to legislation making the president’s tax cuts permanent....

Stenberg, who was defeated by Nelson in 2000, will face former Republican State Chairman David Kramer and Ameritrade executive Pete Ricketts in next May’s GOP primary election.

What is this "blame-America-first crowd" Stenberg tries to box Nelson in? Did he really say that with a straight face? What a despicable, dishonest, and petty little man this Stenberg proves himself every chance he gets.

Meanwhile, on his disappointment with Bush, can you say Flip-Flop? Less than six months ago, in a vastly different political climate, Stenberg vowed he would be a Senator Bush could "work with even better" (than the always affable Nelson). Back then, he hoped to win as nothing more than a Republican rubber stamp. Now, he's attempting to frame himself as the forgotten conscience of this lost president and his wayward party.

What a hoot!

Shame on Walton for buying this crap hook line and sinker without challenging it in the slightest. With Stenberg's would-be big brother Chuck Hagel having ruffled some Republican's feathers with his own Bush criticisms, at the very least Stenberg should be expected to account for where he thinks his beloved Hagel has it wrong on Iraq (a prime example of an issue where he will never ask a question and never have the courage to lead).

Damn straight, "it is time for a change in Washington." It is time we clear the Congressional deck of every Stenberg-like joker who always puts partisanship before country - his only higher priority saying whatever it takes to get elected.


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