Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Column 79 - The Nevada Races

With the primaries about four months off and the election not until November, you wouldn’t expect things to be heating up in the state races quite yet, but you’d be wrong. Maybe it’s because we have the unusual situation of every constitutional office being up for grabs with no incumbents running this year (the first time since statehood), or maybe it’s just the tenor of the times, but things are already starting to get interesting.

Apparently Senator Bob Beers or his campaign sent out an April Fools Day press release saying that Jim Gibbons had come out in favor of Beers’ pet initiative, the TASC (Tax and Spend Control) amendment. Now Gibbons, displaying his characteristic lack of humor and tendency toward overreacting has demanded that Beer retract the joke release and has threatened legal action. To be fair, one of our local TV stations (who hereby forfeit the “sharpest tool in the shed” competition) thought the release was straight and aired it as fact, but having read the release I think that is more of a comment on the political savvy of the news editor than on the plausibility of the release. You can read the release at http://www.rgj.com/blogs/inside-nevada-politics/documents/FakeNewsRelease.doc and judge for yourself.

I have to admit that as a Democrat it’s fun to see GOP candidates tearing at each other for a change. Here we have the delicious spectacle of Gibbons taking his usual loud and pompous umbrage at Beers suggesting that he (Gibbons) is a fiscal conservative! As the regular reader of this column (there must be one) will know, my first priority in this year’s race for governor is ABG (anybody but Gibbons), but between Beers’ ill-advised advocacy for TASC and his apparent lack of judgment (and a sense of humor – the release is sophomoric), I’m not sure he’d be that much better.

Fortunately we have some good alternatives on the Democratic side and, so far at least, the two main candidates have refrained from the kind of internecine warfare that has killed off so many Democratic candidates in the past few years. Both Dina Titus and Jim Gibson have spoken to the Incline Democratic Club in the past months, and I was very favorably impressed by both of them. Senator Titus has some very creative ideas on how to approach state issues, and Mayor Gibson has good ideas of his own as well as a solid track record as Mayor of the state’s third largest city, and both would, I think, make excellent governors.

Gibbons, on the other hand is the perfect representative of the Republican Party in 2006. He is arrogant, not very bright as far as I can tell, and ready to respond to any opposition with guns and epithets blazing. The simple fact is that America is getting sick and tired of the neoconservative GOP’s culture of cronyism and corruption, and their hiding, from the President on down, behind the 21st Century version of red-baiting and spurious arguments about national security to justify actions that would have gotten any pre-9/11 president impeached.

We in Nevada have before us this year a unique opportunity to send a clear message to the Republican Party in Congress and to the President that, like at least two-thirds of the people in the country we are mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it any more. We are spending billions of dollars on a war that was, at best, ill-advised, the President holds himself above the law, authorizing surveillance on Americans without benefit of due process (e.g., by obtaining a FISA warrant), authorizing the leak of classified material, directly violating the law, and top GOP members of Congress have been caught up in corrupt relationships with a lobbyist that and other corrupt activities, and the American people are sick of it.

My only concern is that if there is a clear off-year shift toward the Democratic candidates Bush will have to do something desperate to try to salvage the ‘08 elections. Like invading Iran. But that couldn’t happen, could it? Could it?

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