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Saturday, May 31, 2008

NM-Sen: Wilson-Pearce Debate Follies; Domenici Flip-Flops to Endorse Wilson

Last night's final debate between the "Common Sense Conservative" and the "Club for Growth Hero" consisted mostly of a rehash of already plumbed issues like who voted against what in terms of pork for New Mexico, who would drill the most for oil and do it quicker, who supports the highest fence at the border, which one is more "electable," and who wants to throw widows and children off Social Security.

Naturally, both candidates stood tall and recited the familiar mantra, with maximum gradiosity and moral certitude, that "marriage is between one man and one woman." I wish one of the soft-ball questioners would have asked them if they supported starving the widows (or widowers) and children of gay partners because federal Social Security benefits available to married couples are not available to gay couples. I really would have liked to hear their answers. But it was not to be.

I fail to see much value in any of the "debates" I've seen this season. The norm is that simplistic, banal questions are asked that permit each candidate to recite their memorized talking points, and then the topic is changed. Never any follow-up to throw the candidates off their rote recitations designed to convey as little as possible of any depth. Never any challenging of a distortion or muddied logic in an answer. Question - recitation - next question.

Take the gay marriage question. Does anyone paying attention believe that either Pearce or Wilson would say anything other than what they always say? Why ask a question when everyone already knows the answers that will be given? All it does is provide the candidates with another chance to repeat a wedge issue slogan. That's what passes for political discourse these days?

If you watched last night you'd have no idea that global warming, civil liberties, our right to privacy, FISA legislation, health care reform, "free" trade, the shredding of the U.S. Constitution or education improvements were issues being discussed in the real world. I thought even the Iraq occupation and "homeland security" got short shrift. I guess dealing with these kinds of issues would just take away from the main concerns of Republicans -- avoiding paying their fair share of taxes while grabbing the most defense and energy pork for their home state, and keeping the gay folks unmarried.

The Fumbled Endorsement
The giddiest response by the media and analysts was produced by an awkwardly introduced and rather confusing revelation by Heather that Pete Domenici had suddenly decided to endorse her. Or something. Heather became a bit teary eyed when announcing the development, as she has a tendency to do when Domenici's name is mentioned or a Superbowl half-time show features a mammary faux pas. But it was unclear during the debate whether Domenici had really endorsed Wilson or merely wished her well in the debate. She did claim she had verified the endorsement with Domenici's office, but there was much muttering afterwards about what had really happened, and when.

Turns out the 76-year-old Domenici, who's suffering from a degenerative brain disease, blurted out during a Socorro appearance yesterday that he wished Heather would win the debate. This was apparently interpreted by Steve Bell, Domenici's powerful right-hand man, to mean that the Senator was "probably" endorsing Wilson. Bell later confirmed it was a genuine endorsement. Eventually, a written statement was released by Domenici's office formally providing the endorsement. Here's the text.

In the statement, Domenici explains he broke his pledge to stay neutral in the GOP Senate primary due to the failure of Pearce to stop the TV ads bashing Heather that were being run by the New York City-based, right-wing Club for Growth. Domenici had previously called for Pearce to convince the out-of-state group to stop running the ads. He also described Wilson as "the brightest member of Congress I know." Heaven help us if that's true. I will say one thing -- Wilson exhibits some of the strangest facial expressions of any "debater" I've seen. I wonder what that tells us about her being ....

An article in today's Albuquerque Journal offers a few more reasons for Domenici's change of mind:

[Steve] Bell said Domenici became agitated in recent days with Pearce's criticism of so-called "earmarks," or pet spending projects lawmakers insert into appropriations bills. Pearce criticized congressional earmarks in a debate Tuesday night sponsored by the Journal and KOAT-TV.

"That sent him over the edge," Bell said. "This (Domenici) is a guy who brings 4 or 5 billion dollars to the state every year, and a lot of that is earmarks. He tried to keep a stance of public neutrality as long as he could," Bell said.

... Bell also said Domenici was put off by Pearce's opposition to mental health parity legislation and expanding health care for poor children. "How do you think he would react to that?" Bell said.

According to Repubs like Domenici, earmarks and government spending are great as long as they are meant for their home state, that of another Republican's or for a pet cause. It's only if they are for a Democrat's state or the common good that they represent bad, out-of-control spending. And it's a given that no taxes should be levied to pay for the pork. Deficit spending on Republican pork is always AOK in Repub circles.

If you missed the televised debate and, for some reason, would like to watch it, visit KNME's blog for video.

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May 31, 2008 at 11:59 AM in 2008 NM Senate Race, Republican Party | Permalink


A corrupt Senator endorsing an equally corrupt Congresswoman! Isn't that SPECIAL?

Posted by: VP | Jun 1, 2008 8:36:23 AM

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