Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ben Nelson Attacked in the New York Times

by Kyle Michaelis
This is just weird - when I wrote yesterday about Sen. Chuck Hagel's defense of earmarking, I had no idea that Tuesday's New York Times carried a front-page story about the disingenuous election year attack on Sen. Ben Nelson for his limited direction of federal spending for specific Nebraska projects.

Republican Senate candidate Pete Ricketts was front-and-center in the NYTimes piece for taking these shots at Nelson, though his fellow Generic Republicans Don Stenberg and David Kramer were quoted making their own attacks...to which Nelson responded:
Mr. Nelson objected to his opponent's choice of the word "pork" and defended his efforts. He characterized such spending as allowing elected state leaders to decide what their regions need, rather than letting "some nameless, faceless" Washington bureaucrat make such decisions. And he talked of money needed in Nebraska for farm programs, medical research and rural hospitals, saying none of these initiatives were anything to apologize for.

Again, Hagel explained last week:
"Earmarks aren’t necessarily additional spending...Earmarks are almost in all cases……focused on prioritizing....The debate about earmarks is really one that has gotten off track....Should Congressmen and Senators not have anything to say about where money goes for projects?...Should bureaucrats at the Dept. of Transportation make that decision?"

Sounds like Nelson and Hagel are on the same page here. Since neither Ricketts, Stenberg, or Kramer have any legislative experience, their railing against earmarking as if every cent of it was for pork barrel spending demonstrates a lack of both understanding and integrity.

What's funniest about this pathetic line of attack is that Porkbusters - a government watchdog dedicated to eliminating wasteful federal spending - lists Nebraska as one of the five states receiving the least amount.

So, basically, I don't understand what all the squealing is about. Yes, the Republican Congress has totally lost control of the federal budget, but blaming Ben Nelson for that failure is out-of-line and isn't going to fool Nebraska voters this November.


Blogger Hosh said...

Pete Ricketts in the NYT? Proving once again that money can take you places.

Anonymous randy said...

i don't know that i have seen someone with such an overwhelming sense of entitlement than little ricketts. what a shallow punk.
i'll vote for nelson, but it will possibly the most enthusiastic vote i have ever cast. i see nothing in nelson that suggests independence. i realize he isn't exactly representing a hot bed of liberalism, but goddamn man, gonzalez, alito, bankruptcy, and his support of santorums iran bill. jesus christ.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...


The vote for Nelson is good enough for me. Every vote you listed bothers me as well, but - rationally - we just can't allow ourselves to nit-pick.

More than a clash of ideologies, elections are about the choice between the names on the actual ballot. Nelson has any of these other guys beat hands down.

At the very least, Nelson is not a lackey...unless you consider him a lackey to Nebraska voters - which, I suppose, is sort of in the job description. Besides, Nelson taking his cues from Nebraska voters will always be better than Pete Ricketts taking orders from Haliburton and James Dobson.

Anonymous randy said...

well said and that is why i will vote for nelson. what is important in this election, to me, is that congress takes it's job of oversight seriously.
lastly, but not least, i would like democrats in control of these committees.
my primary beef with nelson, is that he represents, again to me, the DLC mentality. triangulation or clintonism. i personally admire many things about clinton and am amazed he had as successful a presidency as he did, considering the litany of nonsense he had to put up with. however, his success was at the longterm expense of the party. we see our democratic leaders continuously move to the "center" to chase one..two..three percent of the vote. everytime they do, the center moves away from us.
compare this to the republican strategy; when they want to fire up their campaign, they don't try to appeal to the center or position themselves as moderates. they go hard right and fire up their base.


got that off my chest. and this may only be tangential to nelson. im frustrated that we haven't seen a more aggressive attempt to change the dialogue. to change the way we speak of the issues. my most sincere belief is that nebraskans would be open to hear a schweitzer-esque message (a populist message) perhaps our house candidates our the answer. if not the answer they could be the beginning.
i appreciate your work. your posts have really helped me view things from a state and local level as opposed from a national perspective.


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