Thursday, February 23, 2006


Iraq as a Senate campaign issue

I have to lay one thing out here - I like both Amy Klobuchar and Ford Bell. I've met them both, and they're each impeccable human beings. They're both solid on the issues, they both speak well, and they both have rabid support within the party. Looking at the race from a somewhat ivory-tower view, it looks like they've both run solid, fair, and clear campaigns in the run-up to the caucuses and convention.

I had to get that disclaimer out of the way, because I'm about to diss Bell's campaign, and unfortunately, it's for something I wish I could get behind. Doctor Bell has called for an end to American military involvement in Iraq by the end of the year (or something along these lines), and has been generating a lot of support in DFL Peace First discussion groups. I applaud desire and effort to bring our troops home, having done all they could for Iraq.

This position will get absolutely shredded in a statewide, one-on-one matchup with a Republican. Any Republican. Doesn't matter how bad a candidate it is. Doesn't matter if it's Mark Kennedy or Harold Shudlick or this Uldrich guy who's recently jumped in on the Republican side. Anyone who can claim ideological solidarity with President Bush's war policies will systematically disassemble an opponent who is calling for a quick timeline for ending our involvement in Iraq. They will call such an opponent weak, and soft on terror, and perhaps even come up with some cockamamie connection between their DFL opponent and Osama Bin Laden to underscore their criticism. And it doesn't matter how false the rhetoric will be - it will work.

The reason for this is simple. Like it or not, there is a wide range of political opinion in this state. We have frothing conservative nutbars, regular conservatives, true moderates, progressives, liberals, and even a few socialists. (Note to my conservative readers - there are differences between those last three, no matter what you may have read, or even written). It is my heartfelt belief that most moderates, those voters upon whose votes any statewide race is going to hinge, are turning against the war itself. They are turning against President Bush and his cronies and his allies in Congress for all their failures and lies and obfuscations and downright badness as leaders - but those moderates, by and large, believe we need to finish the job we (perhaps for the wrong reasons) started in Iraq. They will vote for a DFL candidate, but only if that candidate does not allow themselves to be hung as a scarecrow on a promise to push to bring the troops home soon. The hearts of the DFL Peace First folks are in the right place, but we have to win the election first.

So I think the next three months are going to be very, very interesting for this race. I have to be honest though - I'd still love to see Ford Bell jump into the 3rd CD race against Jim Ramstad. Perhaps it's wishful thinking. But perhaps not.

Blogger jim said:
While I agree with you that both Klobuchar and Bell are running good campaigns and they both have support within the party, I disagree with your analysis about what will make a good Democratic candidate in the general election against Kennedy.

First I want to say that I have never understood why everyone has been so excited about Klobuchar from day 1. What really makes her electable anyway? The reasons that have been given are:
a. She has great name ID
b. She has raised millions of dollars
c. She is endorsed by Emily's List
d. Chuck Schumer likes her
e. She is a prosecutor (read lawyer)
f. She has the party wrapped-up

But let's examine these assertions of her strength as follows:

a. Her high name ID means many Minnesotans know of her as a lawyer from Minneapolis which is not good.

b. Money makes the world go around so she does deserve credit here but she does not have a clear message to go with the money which is not good

c. Emily's List endorsement has become more of a hurdle for pro-choice women candidates to clear than a real plus. The group does bring late money contrary to their original purpose and without their seal of approval a pro-choice woman candidate is doomed. The group has a terrible reputation for meddling and ruining campaigns. But the worst part is they have a terrible track record electing their endorsed candidates which is not good.

d. Chuck Schumer is a New Yorker and MN has seemed to show an interest in electing former NY (Gov. Carlson and Sen. Coleman) but Schumer is not a former NY. Schumer does not have a vote in MN and MN does not like DC power brokers telling them who to support which is not good.

e. I fail to understand how being a prosecutor or a lawyer is a good profile for a statewide candidate running for anything other than Attorney General. Forget the polls and use our state's political history as a guide. The only description of a candidate that Minnesotans like less than a "politician" is a "lawyer" and Klobuchar is both which is not good.

f. The party has only won two elections for US Senate in nearly 30 years (not counting Wellstone's re-election in 1996). The elections the DFL won were in 1990 and 2000 both of these elections had contested Democratic primaries and were against Republican incumbents. The 1990 election saw a professor no one thought could win go on to win a primary and the general. Can you say Paul Wellstone? The 2000 election saw a former State Auditor no one thought could win go on to win the primary and the general. Can you say Mark Dayton? They were both rejected and written off by the DFL party insiders as cookey candidates who didn't stand a chance of winning. They also both had a message that resonated with the DFL's liberal base.

I think that Ford Bell will continue to gain momentum against his prohibitive frontrunner opponent Amy Klobuchar. She is a great debater, fundraiser, party hack schmoozer, etc etc but she has no message that the public cares about. Everything she discusses is centrists and poll tested.

I like the fact that Ford Bell is for getting our troops out of Iraq that shows real conviction and honesty.
Blogger SQ said:
Wow, was that comment longer than the post?

Anyway, it's late and I'm tired, so take it with a grain of salt, but damn. NO MATTER WHAT a Democrat says they're gonna get blasted for being weak on terror, war, blah blah blah.

Since Republicans will lie about anything, why not have some convictions that Dems can respect and get behind. Over half the public is against the war... over half wins elections right?

If we always run from issues the Republicans can divide people on we will always lose.... oh wait, we have been losing. Maybe its time to take a stand on something. Ford's a strait shooter - worked for Wellstone and Feingold and Barrack, let's not run from our convictions.
Blogger Norwegianity said:
If anyone wants to download the MPR Bell and Klobuchar interviews, I've got them up at my site right now (, or if you can stream them from MPR's site.

If you listen to both interviews back to back I think you'll see a HUGE difference between these candidates.
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