In their first head-to-head matchup, the candidates for Nebraska’s 1st District House seat clearly showed their differences, trading gentle barbs and giving divergent answers on issues like the war on terror, immigration, rural development and global warming....
[T]here was plenty of “My opponent did this” and “My opponent said that” to go around, setting the stage for what could be a close vote come Nov. 7.
“President Bush and my opponent believe that empty rhetoric like ‘Stay the course’ are enough to win this war,” said Moul, responding to a question about Iraq.
“We need to establish clear goals ... to make sure (the troops) can get the job done.”
Moul said Congress should consider setting a timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq, adding: “Only when we complete our mission can we come home.”
That last quote, Fortenberry fired back, is directly contradictory to establishing a timetable. Furthermore, he said, such a timetable would result in “absolute chaos” in the Middle East.
“It is not a coincidence that since 9/11, our country has remained free from attack,” he said. “There’s progress being made, though it’s proceeded slowly.”
The candidates later turned to immigration, with both saying the U.S. must secure its borders to prevent further strain on domestic programs.
Fortenberry said he had supported measures to build additional fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as crack down on employers hiring illegal immigrants.
Moul dismissed the idea of more fencing, claiming it would do little to stop the flow. Instead, she said, the government should supply more border patrol agents and boost the number of detention centers along the border.
In voting for the fence, she told an attentive audience, Fortenberry “wasted billions of your tax dollars.”
On rural development, Moul vowed to fight for federal drought relief for Nebraska farmers.
Fortenberry, she said, hasn’t done enough: “He came back empty-handed for the farmers of this state”....
Two issues the pair agreed on: raising the minimum wage and providing affordable health care to all citizens.
And both, of course, promised to fight for Nebraska in Congress.
“This country needs a change in direction,” Moul said.
If I have egg on my face after yesterday's expression of skepticism and unhappiness with the direction of the Moul campaign, I'll wear it proudly and will gladly be proven wrong just like this everyday from here until the November election.
Fortenberry's message is weak and inarticulate. On Iraq, his criticism that establishing actual goals and a timetable would result in chaos shows just how far out-of-touch he is, oblivious to the chaos that already reigns supreme. Meanwhile, Fortenberry's attempt to tie the Iraqi occupation to the lack of terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11/2001 demonstrates an unexpected degree of desperation and dishonesty that all but the most delusional supporters of President Bush have seen through for more than a year.
Still, I'm glad Fortenberry staked-out these ludicrous and insulting positions on the issue of Iraq. They are merely the highest-profile examples - because young Americans are dying for it - of the partisanship-obsessed and power-mad style of leadership for which Fortenberry and his fellow Republicans in Congress have forsaken any claim to the actual thing.