Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Henry Cuellar is no Lloyd Bentsen

What an awful, awful column by Jonathan Gurwitz today.
Why a hard-core right-wing partisan like Gurwitz constantly feels the need to advise Democrats on how to run their party is beyond me, but at the very least you would think he could make a coherent argument. But here we have Gurwitz claiming that:

Independent-minded politicians willing to do right by their constituents are an increasingly rare breed in both parties. But among Democrats, they are positively an endangered species.

But who is Gurwitz’ example of this? Why Henry Cuellar who Gurwitz admits coasted to an easy primary victory recently and faces no serious opposition in November. Some endangered species.
Is there another example? Oh, yes, there is Sen. Joseph Lieberman whose ultra-hawkish support of the debacle in Iraq has drawn him a primary opponent in the liberal bastion of Connecticut. Lieberman has been a more outspoken proponent of the war in Iraq than most of the Republicans representing his home state, so it should be no surprise that he might face a primary challenge this time. But there is no guarantee that he will lose. In fact, chances are that he will coast to victory just as easily as Cuellar did.

So then, how can Gurwitz support his contention that Lloyd Bentsen could not win a Democratic primary campaign in Texas today? He can’t. Bentsen would win easily if he were running today. His kind of traditional conservatism - fiscal discipline, responsible management of our military resources - is still very popular among mainstream voters today in contrast to the reckless and radical misuse of both our domestic and military resources by the current administration.
But Bentsen was no Henry Cuellar. It was not Cuellar’s support of free trade agreements or his opposition to the estate tax that riled so many Democrats during the last campaign. It was his decision to sit on the Republican side of the aisle during the State of the Union Address and his playing kissy-face with the president afterwards. Bentsen would never have done such a thing.

As for Lieberman drawing a primary opponent, let me ask Gurwitz to consider this scenario. What if our own Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison were to suddenly announce her strong support for abortion rights and then began voting like Olympia Snowe of Maine. And what if she also suddenly became a very outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq. Would she be likely to draw an opponent in the next Republican primary? You bet she would!
The other big fallacy of Gurwitz’ column is the blind eye he casts on his own party’s ideological intolerance. You think Democrats are purging their party of conservatives? What about the dodo birds of modern politics - the liberal Republicans? That is almost an oxymoron these days. Remember what happened to James Jeffords? I think the GOP needs to worry about the log in its own eye before trying to pick the sliver out of the Democratic Party’s eye.

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