Sunday, July 06, 2008



A few days ago I spoke to a really nice woman running for Congress ins a nearly hopelessly Republican district. The incumbent is so extreme and so far, far, far to the right that she may actually have a chance to win... if the tsunami is big enough. As much as I enjoyed her easy laugh and sweet personality, when I started asking her the standard Blue America questions, it only took a couple for me to realize... well, she may be a nice Democrat but a fearless progressive? Not a chance. In fact she actually told me she couldn't support progressive principles, even in a general way, because she is "afraid of the right." The conversation came to a grinding halt. I wished her luck; she would be doing the nation a great service if she ended the political career of the nut who represents her district now.

Skip a few states west. I wouldn't called Arizona freshman Gabby Giffords horrible but her voting record is far-- very far-- from Blue America standards. Since getting in Congress in 2006 she's been voting from a defensive fear-driven perspective. Look at the ProgressivePunch Chips Are Down scale. Gabby is among the 20 Democrats who vote with the Republicans more than with the Democrats on tough substantive matters. She isn't quote as bad as John barrow or Jim Marshall or Nick Lampson but she's in the small dismal ballpark as nearly Melissa Bean, Chris Carney, Heath Shuler and Tim Mahoney. Predictably, she was one of the minority of Democrats who joined the rubber stamp Republicans to keep the war in Iraq going and also voted to allow Bush to wiretap Americans without a court warrant and to give criminal Telecom companies retroactive immunity from Justice. So... don't look for Gabby Giffords on the Blue America endorsement list any time soon. Our idea of a good Arizona congressman would be Raul Grijalva or Howard Shanker or Bob Lord, not Gabby Giffords or John Shadegg or Trent Franks. That said...

I was catching up with Arizona politics yesterday at my favorite blog from that state, Rum, Romanism and Rebellion when I noticed that Giffords' Republican challenger had just hit a major speed bump on the road to his defeat in November. Arizona Senate president Tim Bee, an eager Bush clone, has been pushing a divisive anti-gay constitutional amendment in Arizona-- one that was already defeated once, but that he feels will help bring out reactionaries to vote for McCain and himself in November. (And as bad as Giffords' voting record has been, she's not an animal. She did vote in favor of the Hate Crimes Bill and even if she's a fear-driven wishy-washy non-leader without many principles, she is a decent person with decent instincts; she ought to follow them more frequently.)

Anyway, last week the much-liked Republican former congressman from Tucson, the one who Giffords replaced, just withdrew his support from Tim Bee. Jim Kolbe, who admitted being gay while in the House and who continued being re-elected several times, didn't appreciate Bee's craven politicization of gay people for the sake of partisan politics. Many people think that his refusal to support another homophobic extremist in 2006, Randy Graf, is what allowed Giffords to be elected-- quite handily-- in the first place. Bee claims Kolbe's withdrawal of his endorsement won't hurt him; he's incorrect. It marks him as an extremist and a radical partisan and will solidify Giffords' claim to be the moderate in a moderate district. Alas, I doubt it will move her away from her fearful outlook on politics.

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At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AZ politics are pretty amazing. My wife and I moved there in 1980. We both grew up in the Chicago area. The demographics are unique with many hispanics (30%?), mormons, cowboys, militia's ..... quite a mix. Remember Ev? there is a very small black population. Tucson has always been move progressive than PHX but Tempe (my town) has always been pretty progressive. It is frustrating that the power structure has always favored conservatives. Not much forward thinking and our rep Harry is pretty much hard wired to the inside the beltway crew or the new Daley machine from Chicago.

At 10:08 PM, Blogger Bruce said...

I clicked on "grinding halt" and found a cool song by The Cure. Thanks Howie. I envision a new GRAMMY category- Best Use Of Music In A Political Blog. You win, hands down!

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howie, a couple of points about Gabby. Luckily, my rep is Grijalva. But truthfully we wouldn't have a Dem in her district if she weren't "moderate": she has two major military bases in her district, Ft. Huachuca (famous for its intel training and a major mastercommand for "drone" aircraft that bomb). She is excellent on the environment and a major player in solar power. Just FYI, thanks.

At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops, the other major military base is Davis Monthan Air Force Base.


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