Sunday, April 30, 2006

Fun With Endorsements 1: Osborne an Old Hat or a New Hope?

by Kyle Michaelis
Endorsement time is fully upon us, with newspapers, labor unions, and special interest groups staking their claims and betting their marbles on either the candidate they think should win or the candidate they think will win, depending on who they're trying to make happy. All in all, the whole endorsement process has made for quite a bit of intrigue in the upper-tier Republican primaries.

In the Governor's race, Dave Heineman surprised with his ability to leverage his unearned office to pull in most of the right-wing's single-issue heavy hitters. That's left Tom Osborne to piece together a more centrist coalition, uniting behind Osborne because of the independent leadership he has the potential to offer....even if that potential has so far gone unfulfilled throughout his political career.

Still, people want to believe in Osborne - they want to believe he can be something more than a Heineman-style clone of Mike Johanns who could well be any Republican politician in the country. This hope - this possibility of true independence that will unite Nebraskans and give us the power to make some tough choices in the days ahead - certainly played a large part in Osborne's receiving the backing of the state's two largest newspapers, the Omaha World-Herald and the Lincoln Journal-Star.

But does Osborne really have that courage? Today's World-Herald profile begs the question when Osborne talks about his experience in Congress:
Last spring, after mulling it over for a year, Osborne jumped into the governor's race. It was clear to many that the veteran coach chafed under the constraints of being one of a team with 435 congressional players.

"You come when the leaders tell you to come. You leave when the leader tells you to leave, and you vote when the leader tells you to vote," Osborne said.

Osborne wanted to call the shots. He said he wanted to set his own agenda and, he said, believed he could serve Nebraskans better as their chief executive.

It's troubling that Osborne allowed himself to be bossed around like that in Congress. He took orders not only when to vote but how to vote, abandoning the promise he once held to Western Nebraska voters. And now, I'm worried that he'll disappoint the entire state in the same manner as governor.

This worry is not grounded in Osborne's being a Republican. It's grounded in his proven willingness to be just a Republican when he could have been, should have been - could be, should be - so much more.


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