Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Part 3: "Give'em Hell" Hahn?

by Kyle Michaelis

On another one of those basic principles of who you are and how you’re running your campaign, I’ve liked your promise throughout the campaign of proper use of the English language, but I’m not sure everyone who hears that is going to understand exactly what you mean. Would you care to explain a little bit?

Yeah. Euphemism is another thing I dislike. In other words, you look that up in the dictionary…it means….double-speak, and it’s all around us. It’s things like the PATRIOT ACT being used to limit our civil rights…. All anyone has to do is understand what euphemism is, look it up in the dictionary… and see how much of it is around us.

For instance, let’s look at this at the state level. Gov. Heineman runs around the state says [he’s provided] great tax “relief”… Let’s look at the phrase “tax relief.” Relief is a verb that implies you have some sort of infection or there’s oppression. And that’s the furthest thing from the truth.

We live in a democracy and we are taxed by our representatives, whom we can change. So, the notion that we need to be relieved of our taxes is a euphemism right out of the gate. It’s double-speak. We don’t need a governor to relieve us from taxes….no one is being assaulted. This isn’t Russia – some royal society where the king taxes his underlings. That’s not the case. We’re a democracy, and Nebraska’s a pretty direct democracy because we don’t even have two houses. If we don’t like it, we should change it.

That’s what I don’t like. Yesterday, we were in this debate with Mike Groene or whoever the fellow is from North Platte of this Americans for Limited Government. And, I had said the people of Colorado had suspended the provisions of the law. And, he came back and said, “no, the voters gave the state permission to keep a portion of the money that otherwise would be required to be distributed to the people.” That’s what I mean – that’s double-speak of the highest order.

The people gave the state the permission not to follow the law. That sounds like the people suspended the law to me….

Here’s the other thing. There’s no doubt that proper use of the English language also exhibits clear thinking, and I’m all in favor of clear and concise thinking…..That’s why we have logic, why we have notions of argumentation and debate. You listen to so many arguments and they violate the most basic rules of logical thinking. I think that’s why we’re in so much trouble.

It’s like saying: all cats are white. All dogs are white. Therefore, all dogs are cats. Right? We hear that all the time, that kind of argument all the time…..That’s the kind of stuff that gets covered up by this weird talk. It’s why one of my great heroes – I don’t agree with all his decisions – but one of my political models is Harry Truman because he was regarded as plain-spoken Harry. People like that. And that’s why I’ve used the phrase people would say of Harry, they called him “Give’em Hell” Harry and he’d say, “I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and people think it’s hell.”

I intend to follow that advice. I don’t have any reason to try and mush things together. I see things as I see them. I understand clearly. And, if I change my mind, I’ll let people know.

More than just how things are said, it also seems like there is a huge gap in things that go unsaid. When President Bush was in Omaha last week, Gov. Heineman went out of his way not to take a stance on the immigration issue. What does that say about Heineman’s style of leadership?

To me that says he doesn’t have a style of leadership. He has a style that’s designed to retain him as governor. My view after listening him speak – “this is the best job,” “he loves being governor,” “he grew up wanting to be governor.” I think people should listen to him and take him at his word. This is all about him being Governor.

I didn’t grow up wanting to be Governor of the state of Nebraska. It’s not self-aggrandizement for me. I want to be a governor who leads and sets forth projects we need to work on. I think… in a largely Republican state, his approach will be to just run out the clock…..He doesn’t want to engage on the issues. I think that’s unfortunate for Nebraska – unfortunate for the voters of Nebraska. I don’t intend to let him do that by any stretch of the imagination.

Changing gears but along the same lines, if you, as Governor, had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Bush up close and personal like that, what concerns would you have focused on? What would you have wanted to talk with him about?

Well, let’s go to immigration. He was here to talk about immigration. That’s what makes the Governor’s statement so silly….He wasn’t here for a wedding. If he were here for a wedding, I could have seen somebody saying “you’re here for your niece’s wedding, don’t want to talk about politics.” He was here to talk about immigration.

I think had I been governor, I would have said to him – look, the people of the state Nebraska pretty much reject your proposal and the proposal of Senator Hagel. The people of the state of Nebraska are not against solving this problem, but their view is they want to solve the continuing flow of immigrants first. Then, tackle the other issues. And, I frankly think that is correct.

We have to deal with that issue before anything. Because there won’t be a solution. We’ve already learned that. We tried simple reform in 1986, allowed 3 million to become citizens. Now, we have another 12 million to deal with. In my view, that’s not good for anybody. That’s not good for America. That’s not good for the immigrants.

The difficultly that Democrats have is we’re always for the underdog and, certainly, these poor people coming across the border are the underdog. So, our natural Democratic sensibility is let’s provide aid, comfort, and support for these people. But, like raising children, giving them everything – just always being the fix-it person isn’t the best medicine….

I would have also said to President Bush that they need to be realistic about what’s happening. We have way too many employers in this state who are winking and nodding at the law. It’s not one-sided. It’s not all focused on immigrants. It needs to be focused on the business people who are breaking the law, winking and nodding….that’s pretty hugely critical. And, as governor, I would want help for the state picking up a portion of that.


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